Academics & Faculty

UCLA Announces New Institute for Digital Research and Education


UCLA officialstoday announced the formation of the Institute for Digital Research andEducation (IDRE), a high-end computation, system simulation, and visualizationcenter that will bring together faculty expertise campuswideand enhance the university's already significant efforts in this important,expanding area.

The institutewill be directed by professor Alan J. Laub, who comesfrom the University of California, Davis, and has had a long and distinguishedcareer in control theory, numerical linear algebra and advanced computing. AtUCLA, he will hold appointments in electrical engineering and mathematics.

The campus has aconsiderable number of investigators who are deeply involved in digital andcomputational research and are working in the realms of engineering, science,the arts and humanities, and applied mathematics. The institute plans tocapitalize on UCLA's considerable strengths in such areas as plasma science andengineering, brain mapping, computational chemistry, fluid dynamics, and climatemodeling to obtain base funding that will link these researchers in innovativeand dynamic ways.

The newinstitute also will have the benefit of significant staff resources and thestate‑of‑the‑science facilities of Academic TechnologyServices through a partnership with, and realignment within, UCLA's Office ofInformation Technology. Bringing together this robust team will enable IDRE tocompete immediately with, for example, the National Labs, which already benefitfrom this kind of infrastructure, according to Laub.

IDRE also willencompass Geographic Information System-based research and curricula in thesocial sciences, arts and humanities.

"This is an arearipe for the kind of innovative research that has made this campus famous," Laub said.

Laub also currently serves on theSimulation-Based Engineering Sciences panel for the National ScienceFoundation, a panel that seeks to accelerate the use of computers inengineering research and education.

"The newinstitute is going to put UCLA on the international map in digital andcomputational research," he said.

"Computation andvisualization are now regarded as an equal and indispensable partner, alongwith theory and experiment, in the advance of scientific knowledge andengineering practice," said UCLA Vice Chancellor Roberto Peccei,who will oversee the institute's operations.

The vision for the institute has been building for severalyears and has finally come to fruition through the concerted efforts of Peccei; Dean Tony Chan of the UCLA College; Dean Vijay Dhir of the Henry Samueli Schoolof Engineering and Applied Science; Associate Vice Chancellor for InformationTechnology James Davis; and Warren Mori, professor of both physics andastronomy, and electrical engineering.

In keeping withits unique and collaborative nature, the institute will be governed by acouncil of deans representing the divisions of physical sciences and lifesciences in the UCLA College; the Henry SamueliSchool of Engineering and Applied Science; the David Geffen School of Medicine;the School of the Arts and Architecture; and the School of Theater, Film andTelevision.

Laub's career with the University of Californiabegan in 1983 at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He served aschair of electrical and computer engineering there from 1989 until 1992. In1996, he moved to the University of California, Davis, as dean of the Collegeof Engineering. He subsequently served for two years in the U.S. Department ofEnergy as the director of the Scientific Discovery Through Advanced Computingprogram in Washington, D.C. While at the Department of Energy, he alsoco-chaired the High-End Computing Revitalization Task Force for the NationalScience and Technology Council under the auspices of the administration's Officeof Science and Technology Policy.

"There are no limits to what we can do to make UCLA an evenbigger contributor to the field of digital computation and education," Laub said. "Modern computation is all about team‑basedenterprises, and teams involve many players across many disciplines. I intendIDRE to be a unifying force on this campus."



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