Racing toward research

A $3 million award to UVM will make Internet connection for researchers 35 times faster. Two foundations have awarded more then $17 million to universities and research institutions across Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Delaware to build a high-speed fiber optic Internet network. “This new fiber optic network will give students, researchers and faculty at the University of Vermont the ability to share vast amounts of research and data with other research institutions across the region and across the world at the speed of light,” Sen. Patrick Leahy said. This Halloween, a new branch in the network will connect the University of Vermont, as the lead institution in the group, to Albany, N.Y. The network will allow researchers to share “gigantic collections of data” required to advance in biology, engineering, complex systems, medicine and many other research fields that conventional Internet services cannot provide, according to University Communications. After the Burlington to Albany leg of the fiber network is complete, the next step will be connecting Burlington to Hanover, N.H. by February 2011, according to University Communications. “This very large bandwidth for interstate traffic is necessary if Vermont researchers and educators are to reach global resources and collaborators,” University Distinguished Professor Judith Van Houten said. The first major project using the new network will be a study of algae blooms in Lake Champlain and other lakes. These data will help scientists to understand why some blooms form and why some turn toxic, according to University Communications. “It is fitting that the first data sets to be shared on the network will be aimed at fighting algae blooms on Lake Champlain and in lakes across the Northeast,” Leahy said. “This new network is the latest in Vermont’s effort to create an unparalleled broadband network that reaches every home, business, educational facility and health care institution across the state.” President Daniel Mark Fogel announced the award on Thursday, Oct. 28 at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain in Burlington. “We salute Sen. Leahy’s longstanding leadership for the well-being of Lake Champlain and commitment to keeping Vermont at the front edge of advanced cyber-enabled research technologies,” President Fogel said. “Thanks to his vision and effort, these important competitive awards will allow UVM … to reach new heights in science research, workforce development throughout the state and research innovations for the next generation of scientists.”