Inside Rensselaer
NSF Symposium on "Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation"
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As part of the CCNI grand-opening celebration, Rensselaer also hosted a two-day National Science Foundation symposium Sept. 5 and 6. The event featured technical presentations by scientists and engineers addressing the complexity of the interactions of cyber and physical worlds. Arden L. Bement Jr., director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), delivered the capstone address at dinner on Sept. 6.

Under Bement’s leadership, NSF recently launched the Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI) initiative — a five-year program designed to explore radically new concepts, approaches, and tools at the intersection of computational and physical or biological worlds.

Chronicle of Higher Education reporter Dan Carnevale wrote about the symposium in his “Wired Campus” blog: “The complexities of medicine and biology provide a perfect chance for supercomputers to shine, said presenters at the National Science Foundation symposium on supercomputing on Thursday. But too little attention has been paid to that kind of research so far,” Carnevale wrote.

“Stem cells, for instance, are hard to come by and are expensive, said Badri Roysam, a professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute — not to mention the political controversy that surrounds them. Plugging their properties into a supercomputer can help researchers experiment with some aspects of stem cells without touching sensitive matter.

“Typical three-dimensional renderings of stem cells by computers use maybe four different colors to identify different components of the cells, Mr. Roysam said.

But there are over 10,000 different types of proteins that make up the cell, he said. Most of those 3-D pictures leave out most of what the cell is made of. ‘These fields are ripe for cyber-enabled discoveries,’ he said. ‘We need to understand how a complex and dynamic embryo goes about its business.’”

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 1, Number 4, September 27, 2007
©2007 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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