Professor Larry Smarr, Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at UC San Diego-UC Irvine
May 25, 2017
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Richard and Joe welcomed Professor Larry Smarr, Internet pioneer and the founding Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), a UC San Diego/UC Irvine partnership. Professor Smarr holds the Harry E. Gruber professorship in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering. At Calit2, he has continued to drive major developments in information infrastructure– including the Internet, Web, scientific visualization, virtual reality, and global telepresence–begun during his previous 15 years as founding Director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. His views have been quoted in Science, Nature, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, Wired, Fortune, Business Week, the Atlantic Magazine, and Xconomy.
Smarr promotes the benefits of technological innovation to scientific research, such as his advocacy of a high-speed network linking the national centers, which became the NSFnet, one of the significant predecessors of today’s Internet. When the NSF revised its funding of supercomputer centers in 1997, Smarr became director of the National Computational Science Alliance, linking dozens of universities and research labs with NCSA to prototype the concept of grid computing.
Most recently, Larry has become part of the self-tracking or self-quantifying movement. Over the last decade, he has tracked everything from his weight to his sleep patterns to his caloric intake and even the microbes in his stool to learn about his own health. What had started as a simple effort to track weight loss soon became a focused effort to apply all his scientific skills to manage his own health and lead to an early diagnosis of Crohn’s disease.
Larry was born and raised in Columbia Missouri where his parents ran a flower shop out of the basement of their home. He received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science degrees from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri and received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975. He did a post-doctoral fellowship in Astrophysics at Princeton University and was a Junior Fellow at Harvard University.
Professor Smarr is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, as well as a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2006 he received the IEEE Computer Society Tsutomu Kanai Award for his lifetime achievements in distributed computing systems and in 2014 the Golden Goose Award. He served on the NASA Advisory Council to 4 NASA Administrators, was chair of the NASA Information Technology Infrastructure Committee and the NSF Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure, and for 8 years he was a member of the NIH Advisory Committee to the NIH Director, serving 3 directors. He is currently the Principal Investigator on the NSF Pacific Research Platform grants.
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Larry goes into more detail about the application of supercomputing power to the examination of the microbiom of the gut and how San Diego is at the forefront of becoming the World Center for the study of the microbiom. And with all this new technology, are we approach a time where immortality is possible?
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