Leader in High-Performance Computing to Head RENCI

The director of the Ohio Supercomputer Center has been named the new director of the Renaissance Computing Institute, the multi-campus research center with its home base in Chapel Hill.

Stanley C. Ahalt, who has directed the Ohio center for six years, will assume his new position on Sept. 28. He also will hold a tenured faculty position in UNC’s computer science department.

“Stan is an accomplished, respected scientist and a national leader in the high-performance computing community,” said Tony Waldrop ’74, UNC’s vice chancellor for research and economic development. “He is the perfect match for RENCI and will be a strong leader as the institute continues its work of applying advanced technologies and faculty expertise to important state problems.”

Ahalt, a native of Virginia, held a faculty position in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the Ohio State University for 22 years. He helped build the Ohio Supercomputer Center’s national reputation for providing training, scientific computing and network research services to researchers in Ohio and nationwide.

He directed the construction of the Third Frontier Network, now OSCnet, that connects higher education institutions, federal facilities, information technology centers, Public Broadcasting Stations and all of Ohio’s K-12 schools.. He also led the supercomputer center’s Blue Collar Computing Initiative, an effort to enhance Ohio’s economic competitiveness by helping small and medium-size businesses use high-performance computing resources.

RENCI brings together multidisciplinary experts and advanced technological capabilities to address pressing research issues and to find solutions to complex problems that affect quality of life. It was founded in 2004 as a collaboration of UNC, Duke and N.C. State universities and the state of North Carolina.

Ahalt comes in an atmosphere of economic uncertainty. RENCI sustained in this year’s budget the deepest cuts in state appropriations among several centers and institutes run by UNC. It was forced to eliminate 18 staff members and four contractors.

Among his national leadership roles, Ahalt is chair of the Coalition for Academic Scientific Computing, co-chair of the Ohio Broadband Council, a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Advanced Biomedical Computing Center’s Oversight Committee and a member of the Council on Competitiveness High Performance Computing Advisory Committee.

He holds a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from Clemson University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech. During his career, he has been a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on research grants totaling nearly $17 million.

“I’m coming here because RENCI, with its unique multi-campus structure and multidisciplinary approach, offers tremendous opportunities,” Ahalt said. “RENCI is positioned to build fruitful partnerships that span campuses and research domains, academia, business and government. I look forward to bringing together the intellectual strength of our universities and RENCI’s advanced technology infrastructure to solve critical problems and to help build a robust North Carolina knowledge economy.”

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