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Mason engineering professor receives funding from the National Science Foundation for cyber-infrastructure testbed

November 11, 2020   /   by Martha Bushong

Bijan Jabbari, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Volgenau School of Engineering collaborating with East Carolina University received approximately $2.5 million (with over $2 million to Mason) from the National Science Foundation. Jabbari, the Principal Investigator (PI) and his Co-PI Jerry Sobieski as the Mason team will lead efforts to develop a dynamic, high-performance programmable Cyber-Infrastructure testbed that connects research communities and their resources in the United States with collaborating partners and facilities in Europe.

Jabbari describes the Binding Research Infrastructures for the Deployment of Global Experimental Services (BRIDGES) facility that spans the North Atlantic and terrestrial optical links in the United States and Europe that form an intercontinental optical network ring arrangement. This arrangement will be capable of carrying up to 200 Gbps of science data -- with the potential of Terabytes -- between major nodes in Washington, DC, New York, Paris, and Amsterdam. “The key thing is innovation,” says Jabbari. “The system is a testbed that can be used by people who have data-intensive science applications.”

He says the facility will provide a flexible research-oriented infrastructure connecting laboratories and universities in the United States to their counterparts in Europe. The team is beginning by working with colleagues in the United States and Europe, but they hope to ultimately include researchers from Asia and Japan.

“At the core of the project is virtualization,” says Jabbari.

Simply stated, virtualization is technology that allows you to create useful cyber-infrastructure services using resources that are traditionally bound to hardware. It allows you to use a physical machine's full capacity by distributing its capabilities among many users or environments. What virtualization does, in any of its forms, is to enable cyber-infrastructure activities across a very broad range of requirements and opportunities to be performed more flexibly, efficiently, conveniently, and productively.

Science applications in high energy physics, deep-space communications, and even biomedical programs are collaborating with BRIDGES to leverage the investment in this technology to reach digital resources such as globally distributed or remote sensors and instruments, distributed data storage, analytical processing resources, to create new global applications tailored to the science at hand.  

BRIDGES is led by George Mason University and is working with and connecting an initial community of nearly 40 networking and science research projects that will include faculty, post-docs and students across the United States and Europe.  The project is expected to have a far-reaching impact beyond the testbed or interconnect facility and lead to innovative use of cyber-infrastructures.

“Our goal is to move the technology from point A to point B not incrementally but significantly and be transformative,” says Jabbari.