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The UK e-Science Institute wins continued funding.

Press Release 8th February 2006

The decision by Research Councils UK that they will continue to fund the e-Science Institute through an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council grant for a further five years post July 2006 marks a significant investment in the continuation of the UK e Science Programme which commenced in 2001. Over 2.7 Million has been awarded to the Institute at the University of Edinburgh, to continue its programme of support for the UK e-Science community by providing a focus and meeting place for researchers.

E-Science enables new advances in science, engineering and medicine that are made possible by connecting together powerful computers, distributed information sources and collaborating researchers using high-speed networks. Many people are familiar with Moore's law in which computing power doubles every eighteen months. However, not everyone is familiar with a similar law for networks in which network capacity doubles every nine months. This growth has enabled the meteoric growth of the World Wide Web and has provided the opportunity for researchers to work and collaborate in entirely new ways. Perhaps not since the development of the printing press, has a new technology had such a profound effect on the ways in which knowledge and information can be extracted, used and disseminated.

Thus e-Science represents a new way of doing research in which complex systems such as the collision of black holes, which are not solvable by pen and paper nor explorable by experiment, can be investigated by simulation. But more than this, it allows researchers to navigate often large datasets of different but related information, such as ground and sky based astronomical observations at different wavelengths, on different computers in different continents and so to discover new knowledge. Keeping to the astronomical theme, one such example was the announcement in 2004, by the Astrophysical Virtual Observatory, of the discovery of thirty-one previously undetected supermassive black holes. Finally e Science is about global collaboration to work on the 'Grand Challenges' of human knowledge, and the next generation of computing infrastructure that will enable it.

The e-Science Institute (eSI) situated near to the centre of Edinburgh is the national UK centre and the meeting place for e-researchers. It already responds to current issues and community needs by running a programme of workshops, lectures, conferences and tutorials with hands-on training. There, researchers can share knowledge and ideas about their particular research projects, forge new interdisciplinary activities and investigate ways in which distributed computing can advance their research. They have the opportunity to recognise new challenges and invent new research strategies to address them, and to explore emerging issues in depth. The eSI also runs a visitor programme, in which researchers can focus on their research with like-minded experts and enthusiasts, and summer schools intended to seed the UK with highly motivated young researchers with well advanced e-Science research skills. In this new phase, the Institute will concentrate on developing a more thematic approach to its programme, enabling particular areas to be investigated in depth and over an extended period of time.

Professor Malcolm Atkinson, Director of the e-Science Institute, said: "The e-Science Institute is an international focus where leading researchers meet to pursue advanced research. We are extremely fortunate to have this opportunity in Edinburgh and look forward to stimulating significant innovation. In this new phase, the Institute will be focussing on the research challenges of further developing e Science and in helping researchers in all disciplines to take advantage of e-Science methods."

Professor Timothy O'Shea, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, said: "We very much welcome this award. The University of Edinburgh deservedly has a world-wide reputation in e-Science - an exciting field of research that extends beyond the sciences. E-Science includes all areas of research which will benefit from the latest advances in computing science, and indeed it has applicability in other areas of human endeavour including business, education, healthcare and libraries. This additional funding will enable us to continue our very strong commitment to e-Science and to support the most advanced possible research which delivers academic, economic and scientific benefit."

Dr Anne Trefethen, Director of the e-Science Core Programme, said: "The eSI plays a fundamental role in continuing e-Science activities. It will help to set the directions and agenda for e-Science research across the disciplines. Providing support for the eSI to enable it to sustain its activity at least until 2011, means that there will be a continuing forum for researchers, national and international, to address and develop the research agenda within e-Science."  






Professor Malcolm Atkinson mpa@nesc.ac.uk +44 (0)131 651 4040

Dr Anna Kenway anna@nesc.ac.uk.ac.uk +44 (0)131 650 9818

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