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New research computing director named

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Georgia Advanced Computing Resource Center (GACRC) — formerly known as the Research Computing Center — has named Dr. Guy Cormier as its new director. Additionally, Cormier will hold the rank of associate research scientist within the Institute of Bioinformatics. He began working at the GACRC at the University of Georgia on Dec. 10.

Cormier brings to the GACRC 15 years of experience in research computing, implementation and administration of High Performance Computing and visualization environments, management, and a history of securing federal funds for research computing initiatives. He is a former chief information officer and director at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech.

The GACRC provides high-performance computing hardware and network infrastructure, as well as consulting and training services in support of world-class research computing and communications resources for UGA researchers. The GACRC is a collaboration between the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) and the Vice President for Information Technology (OVIT).

"We are pleased to have been able to attract someone of Guy Cormier's experience and expertise to the University of Georgia,” said Timothy M. Chester, vice president for information technology at the University. “Since I came to UGA 16 months ago, I have talked about the need to focus some of our strategic energies into providing better computational support for our faculty and researchers. With Dr. Cormier's appointment, I believe that we are now on our way to do that and this is the first of many steps along this path."

Cormier most recently served as a research scientist in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). In that role, he deployed and administered computational infrastructure and methodologies and data analysis for next generation sequencing.

Prior to that, Cormier was the chief information officer and director of the Core Computational Facility at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, also at Virginia Tech. There, he was responsible for planning, implementing and administering information resources and technologies for the world-renown biomedical research institute that included 240 researchers and staff.

Before his six-year stint at Virginia Tech, Cormier served for nine years as the founding director of the High Performance Computing facility at the University of Puerto Rico system, which includes 11 campuses.

By receiving federal funds, Cormier was able to implement the Center for Numerical Supercomputing for the University of Puerto Rico system, along with a Bioinformatics Resource Center and a Visualization Laboratory.

From 1998 to 2006, Cormier was the executive liaison between the University of Puerto Rico’s Internet2 project and the Internet2 consortium of more than 200 U.S. and international higher education institutions. That effort included designing and managing the deployment of a regional GigaPop that eventually included all of the University of Puerto Rico system’s 11 campuses, its central administration offices and two private medical schools in Puerto Rico via an undersea connection to Florida.

Based on his experience, Cormier says he understands what tools researchers need and how they may provided.

“I see myself almost as a translator as someone who understands the language and the concerns of a researcher,” Cormier said. “I’m there as an intermediate between the group of computer scientists, programmers and systems administrators that I manage and the researchers.”

Cormier earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Université du Québec à Montréal in Montreal, Canada. He earned his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Concordia University in Montreal. Cormier also received post-doctoral training from Concordia University, the Università degli Studi di Padova in Italy and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

In addition, Cormier has served as a principal or co-principal investigator for several initiatives funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

At the GACRC, Cormier will be responsible for participating in and implementing strategic planning activities related to research computing at UGA. He is further charged with designing, selecting, acquiring and developing infrastructural hardware and software for the GACRC; supporting grant-related activities; and managing the GACRC’s annual budget.

As the director of research computing, Cormier said he plans to meet with researchers at UGA to assess their needs and determine gaps in services. He welcomes suggestions from researchers on how the GACRC may assist them in projects.

“I’d like the GACRC to be seen as a very positive aspect that the University of Georgia can bring to the negotiation table with a prospective faculty member as to why that person should come here other than going elsewhere,” Cormier said.

The GACRC is guided by a faculty advisory committee and is administered by the University’s Enterprise Information Technology Services (EITS). Dr. Greg Derda has recently been serving as interim director of the GACRC and will now resume his past duties as the operational manager of the center.