BLOOMINGTON—The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced earlier this month it would award nearly $4 million of support for the Midwest Big Data Hub, one of four regional Big Data Hubs across the U.S.
This is NSF’s second round of funding for The Midwest Big Data Hub (MBDH), a network of cross-sector partnerships working to manage the end-to-end life cycle of big data assets.
The second MBDH phase includes funding that encourages creative answers to the region’s issues with an emphasis on seed funding for small start-up grants to pilot feasibility studies.
Indiana University Bloomington will receive about $340,000 for its part in the four-year award. MBDH partners, including IU, will initially receive half of the award, which will renew after two years upon proficient team performance.
IU is one of five partner universities that make up the hub, which is led by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Using MBDH resources, each university will support projects and events that use big data to solve regional and national issues.
The IU Principal Investigator is Franco Pestilli (Psychological and Brain Sciences). Co-Investigators are Inna Kouper (Informatics) and Valentin Pentchev (Indiana University Network Science Institute). Also in leadership is Craig Stewart (Pervasive Technology Institute).
Pestilli said IU is ready to lead the way in establishing “Smart, Connected, and Resilient Communities” across the Midwest, which will be IU’s contribution to MBDH efforts going forward.
He added that the hub is becoming a critical network for researchers who require access to tools for large-scale research.
“The Midwest Big Data Hub has the potential to become the critical transdisciplinary connection mechanism for scientists and engineers who are in need of access methods and data for large- and global-scale research,” Pestilli said.
IU’s hub contributions
Since MBDH’s inception in 2015, IU has been critical in advancing the mission of the hub. This includes Pestilli’s own brainlife.io project, which with seed funding from NSF’s Big Data program, received funding from NSF’s BRAIN initiative special program to create an open computing platform for neuroscience that allows researchers to publish, access, and analyze brain data and algorithms.
MBDH also partnered with Beth Plale (IUB Informatics) on her project SEADTrain, which brought together publishing tools from the NSF-funded Sustainable Environments Actionable Data project and advancements in persistent ID technology to develop modules for workforce training in big data.
Plale, who is currently on loan at NSF as one of the program directors managing Big Data Hubs awards, served as IU’s Principal Investigator for MBDH from 2015 to 2017.
Plale was succeeded by Kouper in 2018. Kouper expanded the IU network of collaborators and, along with Pentchev of IUNI, led data science education and training initiatives.
“During Phase 1 we established a diverse network of academic, industry, and public partners who are all vested in improving the life of the region through data-driven approaches,” Kouper said. “This provides a great foundation for Phase 2, where we can continue connecting people, communities, and organizations and aligning research interests with societal needs.”