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ACM, IEEE-CS Honor Pioneer of Grid Computing

Francine Berman, First Kennedy Award Winner, Led Effort to Create National-Scale Cyberinfrastructure

Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession


Virginia Gold

Margo McCall



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NEW YORK, October 20, 2009 -- The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEE Computer Society (IEEE-CS) will jointly present the inaugural Ken Kennedy Award to Dr. Francine Berman for her leadership in building national-scale cyberinfrastructure, the environment that supports rapidly expanding computing and information services over  networked resources, including the Internet.  Berman, vice president for research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is a pioneer in grid computing, a structure that lets companies or universities link many computational and other resources over a network to solve current health, environment and social problems.  She will receive the 2009 Kennedy Award, at the SC09 Conference November 14-20, in Portland, OR.

             Berman was cited for “her influential leadership in the design, development, and deployment of national-scale cyberinfrastructure,” the aggregation of computers, data, networks, instruments, and individuals to address the 21st century’s greatest challenges in science and society. She is a leading advocate for the development of a national-scale cyberinfrastructure for the access, use, stewardship, and preservation of the digital data that forms the foundation of the Information Age.  Her work has had a major impact on the direction of computational science and the cyberinfrastructure that supports it.

            Berman was named one of the 10 top women in Technology by Business Week in 2004, and one of the 15 national leaders in Science and Technology by Newsweek in 2006.  In 2008, she was named a “Digital Preservation Pioneer” by the Library of Congress for her leadership and a vision that is “both grand and rooted in reality.”  She has promoted computing as an enabling force for science and engineering and is a pioneer in the area of application-focused grid computing.  She was also cited for her inspiring work as a teacher and mentor, and her service to the high performance computing community.

            Berman is co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access, an international group focusing on economic sustainability of the digital information that must be accessed and preserved for decades to come.   She has served on key advisory boards for the National Science Foundation, the National Academies, the National Institutes of Health and other groups, and was one of the two founding Principal Investigators of the  National Science Foundation’s $53 million TeraGrid Project.

            In 2001, Berman  became director of both the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI), a consortium of over 40 national and international partners, whose mission was to advance science by creating a comprehensive national computational infrastructure.  Under her leadership, NPACI developed a national-scale grid and created an integrated package of software supporting large-scale domain applications, providing critical initial experience with technical organizational policy and applications for national-scale cyberinfrastructure.

            Committed to ensuring that the science and technology draw from the best and the brightest in the largest possible pool, Berman is recognized as an outstanding role model and advocate for women to be part of the mainstream science and technology world.  She was a founding member and a co-chair of CRA-W (the Computing Research Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research) as well as the founding editor of the “Expanding the Pipeline” column in Computing Research News. She currently serves on the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI) Board of Trustees.

            Before her appointment at Rensselaer, Berman held the High Performance Computing Endowed Chair in the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California at San Diego, and served as San Diego Supercomputer Center director.  In 2000, she was named an ACM Fellow  for pioneering work in application scheduling for parallel distributed computing.  Berman received a B.A. in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Mathematics from the University of Washington.

            ACM and IEEE-CS co-sponsor the Kennedy Award, which was established in 2009 to recognize substantial contributions to programmability and productivity in computing and significant community service or mentoring contributions. It was named for Ken Kennedy, the founder of Rice University’s nationally ranked computer science program, who was one of the world’s foremost experts on high-performance computing.  It carries a $5,000 honorarium endowed by the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Architecture (SIGARCH) and IEEE-CS.

About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, unites computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.


About the IEEE Computer Society

The IEEE Computer Society, one of the societies of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), is dedicated to advancing the theory, practice, and application of computer and information processing technology. Through its conferences, applications-related and research-oriented journals, local and student chapters, distance learning campus, and technical committees, the Society promotes an active exchange of information, ideas, and technological innovation among its members.

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