Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has received nearly half a million dollars from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to construct a “Science DMZ” for research.

“This is a critical infrastructure grant that supports our research and education in computational intensive areas,” said Dr. L.D. Chen, Director of the School of Engineering and Computer Science.

“Science DMZ” is a play on the term “demilitarized zone.” In this case, instead of being a neutral area between warring nations, the DMZ is a sub-network on the Internet where institutions, normally protected by firewalls, will be able to freely and safely share information with each other. Since its inception, the Internet has sped the pace of scientific discovery, but the necessary firewalls that protect institutions from malicious online activity can hinder data sharing among research partners.

The Principal Investigator for securing the NSF award, Dr. Dulal Kar, Associate Professor in Science and Engineering says the main goal is to accelerate A&M-Corpus Christi’s research in Coastal, Marine, Atmospheric, and Geospatial Sciences.

“The ‘Science DMZ’ will boost internal as well as external collaborations through fast data sharing over the dedicated high-speed network infrastructure,” said Kar. “We anticipate this will not only produce new research results fast but also help our researchers to secure more grants.”

Kar says the “Science DMZ” will significantly impact projects like the ongoing Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information and Data Cooperative (GRIIDC) project. GRIIDC is the largest data base in existence for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and is kept by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.

“The success of the GRIIDC project bolsters the University’s significance nationally and globally in environmental research,” said Kar “Being able to share that data faster not only enriches Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s research infrastructure, but will also help expand our research community by attracting and hiring more world-class scientists and researchers,”

This is a two-year grant that has several phases. The actual installation phase will only take three to four months since the University already has fiber-optic cables in place connecting all major science and research buildings. After that, a secure science data center will be established which can be accessed by all campus science and engineering researchers as well as by their collaborators within the A&M system and beyond.

“Having an operational science data center will take more time for us,” said Kar. “This process will involve testing, performance analysis, security analysis, and fine-tuning of the entire cyber-infrastructure.”

When completed, the Islander “Science DMZ” will provide researchers throughout campus with a new high-availability, fiber-optic data network separate and distinct from the University’s general campus network with speeds of ten gigabits per second and extremely low latency or delay times.

“This could not be timelier with our IT needs, especially for our growing atmospheric science and geospatial programs,” said Dr. Frank Pezold, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering.