October 24, 2014  

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State’s Research Universities, Public to Reap Benefits from New Internet2 Connector Site

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University of Southern Mississippi research efforts on differentiating stem cells will be enhanced by the use of Internet 2. The above is an image from a confocal laser scanning microscope of some stem cells in the process of differentiating. (Submitted photo)

When researchers and faculty members at Mississippi's research universities and institutions switch on their computers this morning, they have a new direct connection to the ultrafast Internet2 network via the new Jackson Internet2 connector site.

With more than 8 terabytes per second of potential capacity now flowing through Jackson, the Internet2 connection gives Mississippi's researchers the ability to share large sets of data with collaborators across the country and around the globe. University officials expect the enhanced connection to boost research and economic development efforts statewide.

The switchover moves the high-speed connections used to support research at Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, University of Mississippi, UM Medical Center and University of Southern Mississippi from Baton Rouge, La., to Jackson. The start-up and transfer is a joint project between the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and Internet2.

The project was made possible through expansion funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. The switchover was months in planning with representatives from each institution making a case for the move. Last fall, IHL signed an agreement with Internet2.

"Connecting to the Internet2 network represents a tremendous step for Mississippi public universities, the state and its citizens," said Hank M. Bounds, IHL commissioner. "Our institutions collaborate very closely on academics and research, and improving our connectivity through Internet2 will strengthen this process. The end result is research and innovation that encourage and support economic growth and opportunities to benefit all Mississippians."

 The Jackson connector site is possible because of the new Mississippi Optical Network, referred to as MissiON.

Former Gov. Haley Barbour worked with AT&T to create the network for the Mississippi Research Consortium, which includes UM, MSU, USM and JSU. The network also serves the UM Medical Center, the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg and NASA's Stennis Space Center.

"We are delighted that MissiON is now directly connected to the Internet2 Network and that these expanded capabilities of the new Internet2 network are available in Jackson," said Rob Vietzke, Internet2 vice president of network services. "The new network node dramatically improves Mississippi's ability to collaborate with hundreds of similarly connected advanced research organizations across the globe.

"MissiON, which is the 21st regional network to become a connector to the Internet2 Network, now makes it possible for Mississippi Research Consortium members to use our newly upgraded 100G network – the nation's fastest, coast-to-coast network – to implement new technologies that support scientific 'big data' and cloud applications to drive innovation involving clean energy, cancer cures, astronomy and other important global collaborative research."

Research officers shared expectations of how the switchover will improve projects at their respective institutions.

"The quantity of information used for scientific discovery is rapidly increasing," said Alice Clark, UM vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. "This direct connection ensures that our researchers have the channels they need to participate fully in 21st century scientific discovery.

"From astrophysicists who are researching the mysteries of the universe to Shakespeare scholars who are using digital imaging to study Renaissance texts, Internet2 will have a broad impact across the diverse research activities at UM and will give all our students faster, more reliable access to a world of information."

Internet2 supports and enhances JSU's research mission in particular allowing significantly greater leveraging of its high-performance network.

"With our computational collaborative research projects being carried out with U.S. universities, government laboratories and our international partners, there is a need for fast transfer of large amounts of data," said Felix Okojie, JSU vice president for research. "Internet2 facilitates such operations, thus making JSU collaborative research efforts more efficient and effective."

David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development at MSU, said the direct connectivity to the new Internet2 point of presence in Jackson will allow for enhanced collaboration with other research universities and federal labs around the nation and the world.

"By enabling the development of new software applications, providing real-time control of remote instruments and allowing for massive data transfers more quickly and reliably than before, this enhanced capability will allow MSU to engage in new research endeavors, advance scientific discovery and promote economic development activities for the region and the state," Shaw said.

"Since we frequently use the Internet to send large data sets or hi-def images, an upgrade to Internet2 will certainly benefit us," said Glen Shearer, USM professor and chair of biological sciences and director of the Mississippi IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence.

 

 Internet2® is a member-owned advanced technology community founded by the nation's leading higher education institutions in 1996. Internet2® provides a collaborative environment for U.S. research and education organizations to solve common technology challenges, and to develop innovative solutions in support of their educational, research and community service missions.

For more information about Internet2, visit http://www.internet2.edu/. For more information about MissiON, visit http://mission.mississippi.edu/.