Through a suite of Electronic Infrastructure (CI) components, Science Gateways generally make it easier for researchers and educators to connect to computing resources, share data, facilitate scientific collaboration, disseminate content, and interact with large audiences. To extend the impact in these ways, the team behind SGCI proposed a new effort that has gained support and gained special recognition as a Center of Excellence (CoE) from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Officially titled CI CoE: SGX3, a Center of Excellence for Expanding Reach, Expanding Community, and Providing Examples of Good Practice for CI Through Science Portals (SGX3 In short), the new endeavor was awarded $7.5 million by NSF and took effect on September 1, 2022.
The SGX3 was designed by the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC(Director of Sustainable Programs Michael Zentner, along with team members Mittal Dahan)Texas Advanced Computing Center), Sandra Gissing (Discovery Partners Institute at the University of Illinois), Linda Hayden (Elizabeth City State University), Marlon Pierce (Indiana University), Claire Sturm (SDSC) and Paul Parsons (Bordeaux), in response to challenges faced by the science portals in architecture, workforce skills, stability, sustainability, and planning for the future.
Over the past six years, the SGCI has noted that the community of portal developers, portal owners/operators and portal end users tend to operate relatively independently – sometimes at their expense. For example, gateway owners/operators are often unaware that they are facing similar problems as others; End users are only aware of the portal they are using in their work, their experiences and ideas for improvements are not passed on to the larger community and the creators of the portal framework are constantly reinventing each other’s capabilities, etc.
“By modeling our processes as a cell, we will exemplify how we hope to influence the science portal community to behave similarly,” Zentner said. Acting like a beehive, each stakeholder may continue to maintain its independence, but can also be more aware of how their efforts contribute to the collective capabilities of society.
A key aspect of the SGX3 mission is to provide forward-looking studies of the capabilities of the next generation of science portals. SGX3, for example, will introduce a new service called Blueprint Factories, where it will work with collaborators to better understand the CI needs of entire research communities and electronic infrastructure providers nationwide.
“The Blueprint Factories are an important way to keep the CI community’s fingers on the pulse of evolving needs in science,” said Pierce, who will lead this component.
Four plants are currently being planned. Two to understand the needs to expand access to large-scale computing resources funded by NSF. The other focuses on the field of materials science. A fourth Blueprint plant will focus on best practices for sustainability. SGX3 will also conduct up to three additional planned factories for specific scientific fields.
According to Zentner, the team received inquiries about whether or not the SGX3 represents a continuation of the SGCI. He explained that while SGCI will continue to operate beyond its NSF funding, according to its sustainability plan, SGX3 is “something different.”
“We’ve reframed some of our previous activities to be more focused on helping science portals form partnerships in SGX3, but we also have a much greater focus on bringing ‘science’ into the science portals space,” Zentner said. “To truly meet the needs of science, this must be a more equal partnership between field scientists and cyber infrastructure professionals. The development of our community and the efforts of the new Blueprint factories specifically address this.”
Zentner noted that science portals should also focus on new scientific needs that are constantly emerging through large, newly funded computing infrastructures, advances in artificial intelligence (AI), and needs for FAIR resources (find, accessible, interoperable, and reusable), the physical separation of data from computing resources, structured data requirements, and the availability of new or specialized computing resources.
“Issues such as these require forward thinking about how future science portal technology will evolve to serve these issues and the field sciences where they are important,” Zentner explained. “SGX3 is designed to serve the science portals community by helping its members make decisions about how to effectively launch, guide best practices and sustainability decisions and serve as a point of expertise to help portals navigate the future needs of scientific research and education.”
The plan is for the SGX3 to accomplish all of this through four axes:
- developing a diverse community,
- workforce development,
- Work as experts for the community and
- Imagine the future.
The broader impacts expected of SGX3 activities include enriching existing relationships and forging new links with minority-serving institutions in order to introduce portal development into the curriculum; Provide domain-specific portals to classrooms and related research settings; and training faculty to expand these efforts to grow and live beyond the SGX3.
SGX3 also plans to: host postgraduate students working on real portal frameworks serving real end users; Develop its own team, not only technologically, but also with skills in mentoring and running a vibrant User Experience (UX) consultancy, largely staffed by students who will learn about scientific computing and its associated user experience requirements by working with real science operators the gate.
The SGX3 series of conferences and outreach activities will focus in particular on reaching more field scientists who may participate in science portals as part of their research, but are unaware that there is an entire community of people who make science portals easier to set up and operate. and use.
In addition to these direct efforts, each scholarly portal assisted by SGX3 has a defined goal of extending the impact of the research and educational resources that that portal provides to a community as large as is appropriate.
“All of our activities support this goal for our clients, and significantly amplify the broader impact of SGX3 outside of its internal activities,” said Sandra Gissing, SGX3 Principal Investigator who leads the community building effort. “By supporting science portals serving diverse fields, SGX3 will accelerate socially and economically beneficial research addressing, for example, climate change, improving global food sustainability, water and land use planning, innovation of new materials, accelerating the development of new drugs and much more.”
More details about the SGX3 will be shared at future community meetings and during Gates Conference 2022October 18-20 in San Diego, California. visit sciencegateways.org for more information. You can read more about the effects of SGCI clients in the file SGCI Storybook.
SGX3 is supported by the National Science Foundation (grant number 2231406).