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Auckland e-expert to head supercomputer network

A University of Auckland e-research expert has been appointed director of the New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI), a nationwide supercomputer network supporting cutting-edge research.

Nick Jones is co-director of the Centre for eResearch at the University of Auckland. He led the successful bid to establish NeSI along with colleagues from the project’s partner institutions.

Jones has extensive experience in e-research, network design, e-learning, and software research and development, as well as governance of collaborative projects across the New Zealand research sector.

NeSI will aim to provide New Zealand researchers with the computing capability, data storage and technical support they require for highly competitive research.

“NeSI will support computational research across the New Zealand science sector, whether it’s quantum chemistry, radio astronomy, drug discovery or modelling of fluid flows,” Jones said in a statement on 1 September.

“We’re now well underway with the procurement of new high-performance computing equipment, and our ambition is to begin offering access to the initial computing sites later this year.

“Already the work is having impacts, such as senior researchers accepting new appointments based on the availability of the infrastructure,” he added.

NeSI will be built over three years with investment of NZ$48 million from the government and partner research organisations.

It brings together supercomputer hubs at the University of Auckland, Canterbury University, the University of Otago, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, and Landcare Research. It will be open to researchers nationwide, and will use the Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network (KAREN) to connect researchers from all institutions to its national data and computing infrastructure.