Research Computing at the University of California, Riverside

The University of California, Riverside (UCR) is at the forefront of academic research, committed to advancing the frontiers of knowledge and innovation. In today’s world, where computational resources are essential to research and discovery, UCR’s Research Computing services are crucial in empowering our researchers, faculty, and students. With initiatives like Ursa Major and a comprehensive research computing strategy, we aim to offer a full suite of advanced computational tools and resources. This document outlines our mission, vision, and the strategic alignment of our research computing services with UCR’s overarching goals for research excellence, technological advancement, and community impact.

Mission and Vision

Mission: UCR’s Research Computing is dedicated to enhancing the university’s research capabilities by providing cutting-edge computational resources, expert support, and a collaborative environment. Our mission is to empower researchers across disciplines to achieve groundbreaking discoveries, tackle complex challenges, and contribute to the global body of knowledge, while fostering an inclusive and innovative research community.

Vision: To establish UCR as a leader in research and innovation by leveraging advanced computing technologies and fostering collaborations that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries. We envision a future where our research computing infrastructure not only meets the diverse needs of our research community but also propels the university toward its strategic objectives of academic excellence, societal impact, and technological leadership.

Aligned with UCR’s strategic goals, our research computing services are designed to:

  • Accelerate Discovery: By providing access to high-performance computing (HPC) resources, cloud computing solutions, and specialized computing clusters, we aim to quicken the pace of scientific discovery and innovation across all research domains.
  • Foster Collaboration: Through strategic partnerships with Information Technology Solutions (ITS), the Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE), the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS), and other key stakeholders, we aim to create a unified and supportive research computing ecosystem that encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration and knowledge sharing.
  • Enhance Research Productivity: By offering comprehensive training, educational outreach, and personalized support, we strive to enhance the computational skills of our researchers, enabling them to efficiently utilize advanced technologies and boost their research productivity.
  • Sustain Technological Advancement: Our commitment to continuous improvement, infrastructure upgrades, and the adoption of sustainable, future-proof computing technologies ensures that UCR remains at the forefront of research and technological innovation.
  • Support the Research Mission: Through unified management and governance, including the establishment of a Faculty Governance Committee, we ensure that our research computing services align closely with the needs and priorities of our researchers, supporting UCR’s mission to contribute to societal well-being and global knowledge.

This serves as a guide for the strategic development and enhancement of research computing services at UCR, outlining our commitment to equipping our research community with the computational resources and support necessary to excel in an increasingly digital and interconnected world.

Enterprise Research Computing Strategy

The University of California, Riverside (UCR) is poised at the edge of a transformative era in research computing. As we navigate this pivotal juncture, our strategic vision is guided by our recent accomplishments, including our induction into the Association of American Universities (AAU) and our recognition as a Hispanic Serving Institution. These milestones underscore our commitment to inclusive, high-quality research and position us as a significant academic influencer. Our strategic plan is designed to bolster our infrastructure, enabling us to meet global academic challenges and the specific needs of our diverse community, thereby enhancing our regional impact and promoting socioeconomic growth in Southern California.

Strategic Goals

Strategic Goal 1: Increased Faculty Engagement
We aim to deepen faculty engagement and collaboration, fostering a robust partnership between UCR researchers and IT support staff. This goal is vital for customizing research computing services to meet the unique challenges and needs of our academic community.

Strategic Goal 2: Comprehensive Data Management and Storage
Our focus on implementing scalable and secure data storage solutions is essential for advancing research collaboration, ensuring data protection compliance, and enhancing research workflows. This strategic objective supports our commitment to information security, user experience, and operational efficiency.

Strategic Goal 3: Advanced Research Computing Infrastructure
Upgrading and expanding our research computing infrastructure with state-of-the-art hardware, software, and cloud resources is crucial. This infrastructure enhancement will empower our researchers with advanced computational tools, attracting top-tier talent and reinforcing UCR’s academic and research stature.

Strategic Goal 4: Enhanced Training and Support
Developing comprehensive training and support for research computing technologies is key to maximizing the benefits of our resources. By enhancing researchers’ skills and knowledge, we aim to boost research output and innovation across disciplines.

Strategic Goal 5: Sustainable and Future-Proof Infrastructure
Incorporating sustainability into our research computing operations and ensuring our infrastructure’s adaptability to future technologies are strategic imperatives. This approach guarantees that UCR’s research computing remains environmentally responsible and technologically relevant.

Initiatives and Metrics

  • Faculty Engagement: Establish the IT Research Advisory Board, increase participation in research talks, and strengthen grant acquisition partnerships. Metrics include the number of advisory board meetings, events attended, and grants applied for with IT collaboration.
  • Data Management and Storage: Implement encrypted storage solutions, develop tiered storage systems, and integrate storage with research tools. Metrics involve compliance audit results, usage rates of storage tiers, and rates of FAIR compliant datasets.
  • Computational Infrastructure: Partner with cloud providers, upgrade network infrastructure, and incorporate AI/ML resources. Metrics include increases in cloud resource usage, network speed improvements, and the number of AI/ML projects supported.
  • Training and Support: Create workshops for research computing tools, establish helpdesk services, and distribute online resources. Metrics encompass the number of training programs conducted, support queries resolved, and user proficiency improvements.
  • Sustainable Infrastructure: Implement energy-efficient technologies, regularly update computing technologies, and plan for scalable infrastructure development. Metrics focus on reductions in energy consumption, frequency of technology upgrades, and infrastructure utilization rates.

Strategic Alignment

Our Enterprise Research Computing Strategy aligns with UCR’s broader goals of academic excellence, societal impact, and technological leadership. Through this strategic framework, we are committed to enhancing our research computing capabilities, fostering an inclusive and collaborative academic community, and driving innovation that contributes to global knowledge and societal well-being.

Leadership and Governance

  • Research IT Committee: A coalition of faculty and IT leadership, this committee steers strategic planning, supervises significant projects, and ensures the alignment of research computing efforts with UCR’s broader research goals.
  • Operational Teams: Specialized teams dedicated to the management of infrastructure, user support, training initiatives, and project execution, guaranteeing the proficient provision of research computing services.

UCR’s dedication to advancing research computing is evident through its strategic planning, collaborative partnerships, and ongoing investment in resources and support services. By nurturing a cooperative ecosystem, leveraging state-of-the-art technologies, and addressing the evolving needs of its research community, UCR is poised to maintain its leading edge in academic and research innovation.

Major Projects and Initiatives

Ursa Major Project

The Ursa Major Project is a cornerstone initiative at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), designed to dramatically enhance the computational capabilities available to our research community. Through a strategic collaboration with Google Cloud Platform (GCP), this initiative is set to transform the research landscape at UCR by providing unparalleled access to advanced computational resources. Here are the key components and strategic goals of the Ursa Major Project:

Key Components

  • Collaboration with Google Cloud Platform (GCP): At the heart of the Ursa Major initiative is a groundbreaking partnership with GCP. This collaboration unlocks a suite of advanced computational tools and resources tailored to the needs of academic research. It includes access to high-performance computing (HPC) clusters, cutting-edge AI and ML services, and robust, secure data storage options. By leveraging GCP’s scalable infrastructure, UCR researchers can pursue more ambitious projects, handle larger datasets, and perform complex computations more efficiently than ever before.
  • Comprehensive Access to Computational Resources: Through the Ursa Major Project, UCR is able to offer its researchers comprehensive access to a wide array of GCP resources. This includes not only conventional computing power but also specialized services for big data analytics, machine learning model training and inference, and secure, compliant data storage solutions. These resources are available to researchers across all disciplines, facilitating a wide range of scientific inquiries, from genomics and climate modeling to data science and digital humanities.
  • Enhanced Research Infrastructure: The Ursa Major initiative also involves significant enhancements to UCR’s existing research infrastructure. This includes the integration of GCP resources with on-premise systems, the development of new workflows and tools to streamline access and utilization, and the establishment of best practices for cloud computing in research. These improvements are designed to make it easier for researchers to leverage cloud resources effectively, ensuring that UCR’s research community can fully exploit the capabilities of cloud computing.

Strategic Goals

  • Elevating Research Output: One of the primary objectives of the Ursa Major Project is to significantly elevate the quality and impact of research conducted at UCR. By providing researchers with access to state-of-the-art computational resources, the initiative aims to accelerate scientific discovery, enable more complex and detailed analyses, and foster innovative research that can lead to groundbreaking findings.
  • Securing Further Grant Funding: With enhanced computational capabilities, UCR researchers are better positioned to compete for and secure grant funding from major funding agencies. The ability to incorporate advanced computing resources into research proposals not only strengthens these proposals but also demonstrates UCR’s commitment to supporting high-caliber research.
  • Attracting Elite Faculty and Students: By establishing itself as a leader in research computing, UCR aims to attract elite faculty and top-tier graduate students who are seeking institutions with strong computational research support. The Ursa Major Project serves as a key differentiator for UCR, highlighting its commitment to providing the resources necessary for cutting-edge research.
  • Establishing UCR as a Research Computing Frontrunner: Ultimately, the Ursa Major initiative positions UCR at the forefront of research computing within the academic community. By embracing cloud computing and forming strategic partnerships, UCR not only enhances its research capabilities but also contributes to the broader academic dialogue on the future of computational research in higher education.

Through the Ursa Major Project, UCR is making a significant investment in the future of research computing, setting a new standard for academic institutions and cementing its role as a leader in the advancement of scientific knowledge and innovation.

Research Computing System Administration Service (RCSAS) MOU

The Research Computing System Administration Service (RCSAS) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a formal agreement at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) that outlines a comprehensive framework for the collaboration between UCR faculty and the Information Technology (IT) department in the administration of research computing systems. This MOU is pivotal in establishing a clear governance structure for research computing resources, ensuring that these systems are managed effectively to support UCR’s research missions. Here are the detailed objectives and scope of the RCSAS MOU:


The primary objective of the RCSAS MOU is to clearly define the roles, responsibilities, and financial aspects associated with the administration of research computing systems owned and utilized by UCR faculty. This includes:

  • Clarification of Roles and Responsibilities: Establishing clear delineations between the duties of UCR faculty, researchers, and the IT department in the management and use of research computing systems. This ensures that all parties understand their obligations and the standards they must adhere to.
  • Financial Framework: Outlining a transparent financial model for the funding, maintenance, and expansion of research computing resources. This model addresses the allocation of costs between the university, individual departments, and external funding sources.
  • Governance Structure: Setting up a governance structure that involves faculty in decision-making processes related to research computing guidelines, infrastructure investments, and the prioritization of IT support services.


The RCSAS MOU covers a wide range of aspects related to the administration of research computing systems at UCR, emphasizing security, reliability, and ongoing innovation. Key areas within the scope include:

  • System Design and Build: Guidance and support in the design and construction of research computing systems, ensuring that these systems are tailored to meet the specific needs of faculty-led research projects.
  • System Management: Ongoing management and administration of research computing systems, including regular maintenance, updates, and security measures to ensure the integrity and reliability of the systems.
  • Security Compliance: Implementation of robust security protocols and compliance measures to protect sensitive research data and intellectual property. This includes adhering to university policies, as well as federal and state regulations governing data security and privacy.
  • Innovation and Upgrades: Proactive engagement in the exploration and adoption of new technologies and innovations that can enhance the capabilities of research computing systems. This includes regular assessments of emerging tools and platforms that could offer improvements in computational power, efficiency, or cost-effectiveness.
  • Support and Training: Provision of technical support, troubleshooting, and training services to faculty and researchers, enabling them to utilize research computing resources effectively. This encompasses personalized consultations, workshops, and documentation to assist users in maximizing the potential of their computing systems.

By establishing the RCSAS MOU, UCR commits to fostering a collaborative, efficient, and innovative research computing environment. This agreement ensures that research computing systems are managed in a way that aligns with the university’s strategic goals for research excellence, security, and technological advancement, while also addressing the evolving needs of UCR’s diverse research community.

Tiered Research Storage Strategy

UCR Research Computing recognizes the diverse storage needs of our research community and has adopted a tiered storage approach to ensure that researchers have access to the appropriate solutions for their specific requirements. This approach is designed to provide a comprehensive and flexible storage ecosystem that supports the entire research lifecycle, from data generation and analysis to collaboration and long-term preservation.

Tier 1: Ceph RDS – Foundation for Research Data

The Ceph Research Data Service (Ceph RDS) serves as the foundation for research data storage at UCR. This highly scalable and secure storage solution is designed to meet the evolving needs of our researchers, providing a robust platform for storing, managing, and accessing large datasets.

Ceph RDS offers the following key benefits:

  • Scalability: Starting with an initial capacity of 2 PB, the Ceph RDS can seamlessly scale to accommodate growing data storage requirements.
  • Data Integrity and Security: With 8k + 4m erasure coding and encryption, Ceph RDS ensures the highest levels of data integrity and security, making it suitable for sensitive research data.
  • Performance: Leveraging high IOPS NVMe-backed storage pools, Ceph RDS delivers the performance required for data-intensive research workloads.
  • Accessibility: Ceph RDS supports a wide range of access protocols, including NFS, CIFS/SMB, S3, and various file transfer protocols, enabling seamless integration with existing research
  • Campus Integration: Ceph RDS connects directly to the High-Performance Computing Center (HPCC), campus clusters, and centers providing a tightly integrated storage solution for computational research and analysis.

By establishing Ceph RDS as the foundation for research data storage, UCR ensures that researchers have access to a robust, secure, and scalable storage solution that can support their data-intensive projects.

Tier 2: Google Drive – Collaboration and Document Management

Google Drive serves as the next tier in UCR’s research storage approach, focused on enabling efficient collaboration and document management. Tightly integrated with UCR’s G Suite, Google Drive provides a user-friendly environment for storing, sharing, and editing various file types, including documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

Key benefits of Google Drive include:

  • Collaboration: Real-time collaboration features facilitate seamless teamwork and enable researchers to work on shared documents simultaneously.
  • Ease of Access: With web-based access and integration with various productivity tools, Google Drive offers convenient access to research materials from any location.
  • Interoperability: Google Drive supports interoperability with web-based services like the Open Science Framework (OSF), enabling researchers to leverage additional tools for research management and dissemination.

While Ceph RDS serves as the foundation for research data storage, Google Drive complements this by providing a focused solution for document management and small file sharing, enhancing collaboration and productivity within research teams.

Tier 3: Cloud and Backup Storage – Scalable and Secure

UCR recognizes the importance of providing cost-effective and secure storage solutions for various research needs, including long-term archiving, data backup, and cloud-based storage. To address these requirements, UCR offers access to cloud storage platforms like Google Cloud Storage (GCS) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3, as well as backup solutions like CrashPlan.

These storage solutions offer the following benefits:

  • Scalability: Cloud storage platforms like GCS and AWS S3 provide virtually unlimited scalability, enabling researchers to store and manage large datasets without capacity constraints.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: UCR has negotiated discounted pricing for these storage solutions, making them cost-effective options for researchers.
  • Data Protection: Backup solutions like CrashPlan ensure the longevity and integrity of research data by providing reliable backup and recovery capabilities.
  • Flexibility: With various storage classes and access options, these solutions can accommodate a wide range of research needs, from frequently accessed data to long-term archiving.

By incorporating cloud and backup storage into the tiered approach, UCR empowers researchers with flexible, secure, and cost-effective storage solutions tailored to their specific project requirements.

This tiered research storage approach ensures that UCR’s researchers have access to the most appropriate storage solutions for their needs, enabling them to focus on their research while benefiting from a robust, secure, and collaborative storage ecosystem.

Grant Collaboration

At the University of California, Riverside (UCR), our dedication to advancing research extends into the realm of securing and effectively managing grants. Through collaborative efforts and providing a wealth of resources, we aim to support our researchers in navigating the complexities of grant acquisition and management.

Strategic Partnerships

We cultivate strategic partnerships between researchers and our Research Computing team, ensuring comprehensive support from the initial planning stages to the completion of projects. This collaborative approach is vital for developing compelling grant proposals that stand out and securing the necessary funding for groundbreaking research.

Advanced Computational Resources

UCR offers a wide range of computational resources, including our High-Performance Computing (HPC) platforms and the Ursa Major project with Google Cloud Platform. These tools are crucial for enhancing research efficiency and fostering innovation, making UCR’s grant proposals more competitive.

Premier Campus Facilities

Our premier campus facilities, such as the Campus Data Center, Bourns College of Engineering Data Center, and the Genomics Data Center, support diverse research activities. Equipped with the latest computing and storage technology, these facilities provide the necessary infrastructure to facilitate cutting-edge research across various disciplines.

Focused Grant Opportunities

UCR actively seeks out focused grant opportunities that align with our mission to enhance research capabilities and infrastructure:

UCR’s commitment to leveraging these grant opportunities underlines our dedication to propelling our research computing infrastructure forward. By fostering an environment of innovation and excellence, we aim to support our researchers in making significant contributions to their fields and beyond.

Comprehensive Research Computing Support

At the University of California, Riverside (UCR), we understand that the foundation of groundbreaking research is not just access to advanced computational resources but also robust support and a vibrant community of collaboration. Our comprehensive research computing support strategy is designed to ensure that our researchers have the tools, knowledge, and community needed to excel in their projects.

Integrated Strategy

Our approach to research computing support involves a holistic strategy that encompasses the deployment and management of computational resources across cloud-based and hybrid environments. This strategy is meticulously aligned with UCR’s broad research goals, ensuring that computational resources effectively meet the diverse needs of our research community. Key elements include:

  • Cloud and Hybrid Computing Environments: Offering a range of computing environments to suit various research requirements, from high-performance computing (HPC) clusters to cloud services with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Amazon Web Services (AWS). This flexibility allows researchers to select the most appropriate environment for their projects, whether it’s for large-scale data analysis, AI/ML model training, or secure data storage.
  • Infrastructure Alignment with Research Goals: Ensuring that our computational infrastructure is not only state-of-the-art but also directly supports the research objectives of UCR’s faculty and students. This involves continuous evaluation and upgrading of our systems to cater to the evolving demands of academic research.
  • Seamless Access and Management: Simplifying access to and management of research computing resources through user-friendly portals, streamlined authentication processes, and robust support systems. This ensures that researchers can focus on their work without the burden of technical complexities.

Community and Collaboration

A key aspect of our strategy is to strengthen the research computing community at UCR, fostering an environment where engagement, training, and collaboration are actively encouraged. We aim to build a cohesive ecosystem that supports the sharing of knowledge and resources. Initiatives include:

  • Engagement and Networking Events: Hosting regular events, seminars, and workshops that bring together researchers from different disciplines. These events serve as platforms for sharing best practices, discussing research challenges, and exploring new technologies.
  • Training Programs and Workshops: Offering comprehensive training sessions and workshops that cover a wide range of topics, from basic computing skills to advanced topics in HPC, cloud computing, and AI/ML. These educational programs are designed to enhance the computational proficiency of our researchers and students.
  • Collaboration Platforms: Developing and supporting platforms that facilitate collaboration among researchers. This includes tools for project management, data sharing, and communication, as well as support for collaborative grant applications and interdisciplinary research projects.

Through our comprehensive research computing support strategy, UCR is committed to providing an ecosystem that not only equips our researchers with cutting-edge computational resources but also nurtures a community of innovation, collaboration, and discovery. By integrating advanced technology with strong support and a collaborative environment, we aim to propel UCR research to new heights of excellence and impact.

Research Computing Team

At the University of California, Riverside (UCR), the Research Computing team is at the forefront of empowering the university’s dynamic research landscape. Under the strategic guidance of the Deputy CIO, Mike Kennedy, and the direct leadership of the Director of Research Computing, the team is committed to providing cutting-edge computational resources, fostering an environment of collaboration, and aligning with UCR’s overarching research objectives.

Core Team Dynamics

  • Director of Research Computing: The Director orchestrates the development, deployment, and management of research computing services across UCR. This pivotal role involves harmonizing the efforts of the research computing team with the needs and goals of the university’s research community.

  • Student Workers:
    • Matthew Chung: As a research facilitator and system administrator, Matthew is instrumental in assisting with the technical aspects of research computing. He also leads the student High-Performance Computing (HPC) Club, engaging students across disciplines in the exploration and application of HPC concepts.
    • Keerthi: Serving as a programmer, Keerthi contributes to the team by developing software solutions that enhance UCR’s research computing infrastructure. Both Matthew and Keerthi, as student workers, embody the spirit of innovation and dedication that drives the research computing team forward.
  • Lead Research Facilitator: Bart Kats, in his role as Lead Research Facilitator, is vital in providing expertise and support to researchers. By guiding access to computational resources and delivering tailored training, Bart ensures that researchers can effectively leverage technology in their work.

Extended Team and Collaborations

  • ITS Systems, Network, and Security Teams: The Research Computing team collaborates closely with these ITS teams, integrating their specialized skills and resources to maintain a secure, reliable, and high-performance computing environment for research.

  • Research IT Leaders (RITL): Collaborating with RITLs from other schools and groups within UCR, the Research Computing team benefits from a broad network of expertise and support, enhancing the university’s research computing capabilities.

Guiding Coalitions

  • IT Research Advisory Board: This coalition of faculty and IT leadership plays a critical role in guiding the Research Computing team’s strategic direction. By overseeing significant projects and ensuring that research computing efforts align with UCR’s broader research goals, the IT Research Advisory Board is instrumental in shaping the university’s research computing landscape.

The mission of UCR’s Research Computing team is to advance the university’s research endeavors through technological innovation, comprehensive support, and collaborative synergy. By cultivating a rich ecosystem of computational resources and expertise, the team not only supports groundbreaking research but also contributes to UCR’s standing as a leader in academic and research excellence. Through strategic leadership, dedicated teamwork, and strong partnerships, the Research Computing team at UCR is a cornerstone of the university’s research success.