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Five grants awarded for University of Hawaii student research using the Maui High Performance Computing Center

University of Hawaiʻi
David Lassner, (808) 956-3501
Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer
Larry Wiss, (808) 956-9393
Communications Officer
Posted: Feb 7, 2008

HONOLULU — Five University of Hawaiʻi departments have been awarded grants for the current academic year totaling over $127,000 to support UH students engaged in research using the Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC), which operates the 25th most powerful supercomputer in the world.

This is the fourth round of awards in an internal program designed to advance UH research through greater student involvement in increased use of modern high performance computing (HPC) technologies.

UH Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer David Lassner, who also serves as principal investigator for the Maui High Performance Computing Center, noted that "This program leverages UH‘s role as contractor for MHPCC to help the university embrace the kinds of modern research outlined by the National Science Foundation‘s Cyberinfrastructure movement and the National Institutes of Health Roadmap."

The awardees for the 2007-08 academic year were selected competitively by UH and MHPCC staff based on merit of the research and its importance to UH, MHPCC and Hawaiʻi; evaluation of the ability of the faculty and student to execute the work proposed; importance of support to the overall project objectives; impact of the project on bringing HPC to new students and new areas of research; and overall diversity of the award program portfolio.

Each of the students is working under the leadership of their faculty advisor throughout the academic year. They are provided with access to MHPCC supercomputing resources through an Educational Partnership Agreement entered into by UH and the Air Force Research Lab, for which UH operates the MHPCC facility.

At the end of the award period, each student will give a public presentation about his or her research, and write a short publication. Work by four previous awardees has been published in the MHPCC Application Briefs booklet and several have been featured in the MHPCC booth at Supercomputing, the major international conference on high performance computing.

The awardees for 2007-08 are:

  • Ruey Hwu, Mechanical Engineering

    Advisor: Dr. Weilin Qu

    Project Title: Three-Dimensional Simulation of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cells by Parallel Computing

    Summary: As use of PEM fuel cells is becoming a more feasible alternative to traditional forms of energy, accurate modeling is more and more necessary to optimize the operation of the fuel cell to compete in the commercial market. Ruey began his project using Hurricane, a 288-processor IBM computer for this complex model, but has already transferred the account to the powerful 5,120-processor JAWS, a Dell cluster. He will develop a Fuel Cell model on JAWS and compare the model results with published performance data from the operation of a working Fuel Cell.

  • Seung-Sep Kim, Geology and Geophysics

    Advisor: Dr. Paul Wessel

    Project Title: Finding Seamounts in the Satellite-Derived Gravity Field

    Summary: Seamounts are volcanic features on the ocean floor that can cause ship wrecks and disguise the approach of tsunamis. Seung-Sep Kim plans to use the power of Hurricane, combined with mapping, visualization, and data analysis software, to process satellite-derived global gravity grids (containing over 300 million data values) and produce databases for seamount and volcanic ridge locations (likely more than 100,000).

  • Kin Wai Leung, Mechanical Engineering

    Advisor: Dr. Marcelo Kobayashi

    Project Title: Computational Modeling and Simulation of Wave-Impact on Coastal Structures

    Summary: Kin Wai will use Large Eddy Simulation techniques to study the effects of tsunamis on buildings near the coast. He will run his model on the powerful JAWS computer at MHPCC and will start with basic fundamental studies, using one wave and a regular block shape, increasing complexity with each case.

  • Erik C. Franklin, Zoology

    Advisor: Dr. Paul L. Jokiel

    Project Title: Quantification and Comparison of Patch, Class, and Seascape Scale Metrics for the Shallow Coral Reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

    Summary: Using Hurricane, Erik will analyze maps derived from satellite imagery to examine spatial patterns of the shallow reefs around the atolls in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The analysis will increase our understanding of the ways in which the particular spatial arrangement of reefs can influence the mobility of reef fish populations.

  • Jhonsen Djajamuliadi, Chemistry

    Advisor: Dr. Kristin K. Kumashiro

    Project Title: Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Human Connective Tissue Protein Fragments in Water

    Summary: Jhonsen will study the formation of elastin in the human body and the role water plays in that formation by looking at the protein folding properties. A molecular dynamics simulation run on Hurricane will give Jhonsen more insight on the actual phenomena occurring in these processes.

  • Paulo H.R. Calil, Oceanography

    Advisor: Dr. Kelvin J. Richards

    Project Title: Generation of Submesoscale Vorticity Filaments in the Ocean and their Impact on Primary Productivity in an Island Wake

    Summary: Paulo will use Hurricane to study the effect of eddies on the ocean circulation as well as on the ecosystem around the Hawaiian Islands. He will combine ocean models of the physical circulation with biogeochemical models.

Another round of the program will be announced in Spring 2008 for the next academic year. Faculty and students from any UH campus interested in this program or for more information about HPC at UH may visit or contact Dr. Susan Brown at (808) 956-2808 or email

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