Research Cyberinfrastructure and Advanced Computing Advisory Council Charter

Purpose and Role

The Ohio State University’s strategic plan, Time and Change, sets forth the next steps of what it means to be a leading national flagship public research university. Pillar III of the strategic plan drives advances in research and creative expression. To achieve its bold vision, Ohio State must ensure researchers have timely and cost-effective access to key research support services including:

  • Research Cyberinfrastructure, which consists of computing systems, data storage systems, advanced instruments and data repositories, visualization environments, and people, all linked by high speed networks to make possible scholarly innovation and discoveries not otherwise possible.
  • Advanced Computing, which includes technologies such as high performance computing, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other efforts to take us “beyond Moore’s Law.”

Today, individuals requiring these types of research support must take an ad hoc approach leveraging opportunities as they became available. Expensive components, such as advanced instruments, are acquired through individual grants but have no funding line to support ongoing operations. Support staff with specific types of skills or expertise are employed by research teams, centers, institutes, schools, departments and colleges where those skills are most needed; however, long-term funding for many of these staff require them to be written into grants limiting their potential impact. Researchers needing high performance computing cobble together solutions using their own clusters, college clusters or the Ohio Supercomputer Center. Data storage and management must be addressed locally. Osuwireless is used by researchers across Ohio State, but secure network access often requires VPNs managed by a unit-level IT team. 

While this ad hoc approach has delivered results, it has also created silos that limit Ohio State’s ability to scale and adapt quickly. Researchers waste hundreds of hours each semester overcoming administrative and technical barriers to accessing data, compute, storage, instruments and advanced computing resources. Navigating the landscape is difficult, especially for those new to the university. This problem is amplified by the trend towards more cross-disciplinary research, external partnerships and attempts to bring researchers together in shared facilities such as the Research Commons or TDAi’s collaboration spaces.

The Research Computing Committee was initially created to address these kinds of barriers. Over time it has had some success, such as orienting new researchers to resources at Ohio State, lobbying for electronic lab notebooks and providing guidance on data management plans. Going forward, Ohio State needs an advisory body that is structured to have a larger impact on the acquisition and ongoing delivery of key research support at scale. 

The Research Cyberinfrastructure and Advanced Computing Advisory Council (referred to as “RCAC”) will be responsible for delivering these results. This charter outlines RCAC’s mission, charge, composition and success metrics.


RCAC Mission

RCAC’s mission is to ensure that Ohio State researchers have the cyberinfrastructure and advanced computing resources they need to be competitive at scale. RCAC will identify gaps and prioritize investments that will strengthen Ohio State’s competitive position.

Types of investments include:

  • Cyberinfrastructure and advanced computing physically located at Ohio State
  • Ohio State researchers’ access to cyberinfrastructure and advanced computing located elsewhere (e.g. National Labs, Ohio Supercomputer Center, commercial cloud services)
  • Ohio State researchers’ ability to acquire, access and use data
  • System integrations that facilitate cross-college and multi-institution research programs
  • Sustainable public private partnerships in cyberinfrastructure and advanced computing
  • Data and technology environments designed to meet national security, HIPAA and intellectual property protection needs


RCAC Charge

RCAC’s work focuses on portfolio management and prioritizing investments to address portfolio gaps. To this end, RCAC will be responsible for:

  1. performing a baseline review of Ohio State’s cyberinfrastructure and advanced computing portfolio
  2. identifying a few priority areas within the portfolio to focus on over the next 5 years and writing up a strategic vision for each one
  3. defining a 3-year roadmap for each priority area to help different units plan forward in a coordinated way
  4. prioritizing co-investments that are most needed in FY21-22 that will deliver the biggest overall impact

After the first year, RCAC will review the portfolio annually making any changes necessary to the priority areas and their related 5-year vision, 3-year roadmap and 2-year investment plan.

RCAC will review, prioritize and propose investment plans to executives for sponsorship and funding. Investment plans will include key stakeholders, project plans, startup and ongoing costs, funding sources, responsibilities, expected outcomes and metrics. Investments could include any combination of technologies, people, services, processes, policy changes, etc.


RCAC Composition

RCAC will include an Executive Committee supported by an Advisory Board and various Working Groups. RCAC will be chaired by the Sr. Vice President for Research. Membership for each group will be evaluated annually and adjusted as needed.

Executive Committee – A steering group comprised of senior university executives, WMC leadership, representative deans and key external partners.

  • Office of Research (Stone, SVPR)
  • Office of Academic Affairs (McPheron, Provost)
  • Office of Business and Finance (Papadakis, SVP/CFO)
  • Wexner Medical Center (Paz, EVP/Chancellor)
  • Office of the Chief Information Officer (Hofherr, VP/CIO)
  • College of Engineering (Williams, Dean)
  • College of Arts and Sciences (Ritter, Dean/VP)
  • College of Food Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (Kress, Dean/VP)
  • College of Medicine (Kent, Dean/VP)
  • Corporate Engagement Office (Osborne, VP)
  • External Partners:
    • Battelle (Von Thaer, President/CEO)
    • Nationwide Children’s Hospital (Robinson, CEO)

Advisory Board – Cross-functional team of leaders who devise partnerships that will accelerate research in key areas by reducing friction and filling gaps in the research support portfolio (facilities, infrastructure and services.)

Board Membership will be limited to 15-20 individuals selected by the Executive Committee from diverse backgrounds who excel in at least one of the following skills sets:

  • Doers
  • Thinkers
  • Persuaders
  • Helpers
  • Organizers
  • Creators

The Advisory Board needs people who can:

  • Launch a startup
  • Lead scary change
  • Deliver reliable services
  • Manage finances
  • Manage risk
  • Vision the future
  • Think outside the box
  • Get things done with one phone call

Working Group(s) – Teams of subject matter experts, stakeholders and thought leaders who will be appointed annually by the Advisory Board to address specific issues and/or systemic challenges with the research support portfolio (facilities, infrastructure and services) such as:

  • Barrier-busters – projects that remove key barriers to collaboration
  • Matchmaking – help researchers explore options and find resources/support
  • Advanced computing/high performance computing skills training for research staff
  • Core Labs and shared research facilities
  • Data access and management
  • Tools, software, apps, sensors, devices
  • Security, privacy, compliance (w/ RSGB)
  • Machine Learning
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • High Performance Computing
  • Quantum Computing
  • Digital Healthcare
  • Partnerships (w/ OSC, Nat’l Labs, other)

Working group members may be removed, or new members appointed, at any time as needed by RCAC’s Advisory Board.


Meetings and Resources

  • Regular meetings. The Executive Committee will meet 1-2 times annually. The Advisory Board will meet 3-4 times per year and the Working Groups will meet regularly as dictated by initiative timelines.
  • Ad Hoc meetings. If necessary, ad hoc meetings of the RCAC will be called by the SVPR (or designee) in order to review and make recommendations with respect to cyberinfrastructure and advanced computing in a timely manner.
  • Organization. The Deputy CIO, Office of the CIO (or their designee) will act as the facilitator of the RCAC (the “Facilitator”). The Facilitator will be responsible for setting meeting agendas, scheduling and presiding over meetings, capturing key decisions and action items, and sharing information with the appropriate stakeholders.
  • Recommendations. Working Group proposals, metrics and other outputs will be provided to the RCAC Advisory Board for review and decision. The board’s recommendations will be sent to the Executive Committee for final consideration and approvals as needed. The Executive Committee will identify partnership opportunities and approve investment plans. All relevant university stakeholders will be notified of recommendations and/or approvals.
  • Resources. RCAC might require resources to be able to carry out its responsibilities, such as project management, administrative support, faculty fellowships for in-depth thought leadership in key areas, travel for members to participate in site visits or to bring external experts to Ohio State. Resource requests will be made to the Executive Committee.


Deliverables and Metrics

RCAC will deliver the following in FY20:

  • Formation and launch of RCAC, including its mission, charter and membership of the Executive Committee, the Advisory Board and FY20 Working Groups
  • Portfolio of current cyberinfrastructure and advanced computing resources
  • Priority areas defined with a 5-year vision, 3-year roadmap, 2-year investment plan for each area
  • Success metrics defined to determine impact/outcome of recommended investments such as:
    1. Research impact
    2. Cost savings, cost avoidance, total cost of ownership
    3. Return on investment
    4. “Customer Effort Score” – a consumer metric that could be adapted to measure researchers’ ease of experience with cyberinfrastructure and advanced computing resources at Ohio State.


Issue Date: December 10, 2019