Establishing seven PhD studentships in computational science in Welsh universities
Fujitsu and HPC Wales today jointly announced the first stages of a new supercomputing-based research collaboration, with the establishment of seven PhD studentships in computational science to be undertaken in Welsh universities. The studentships form part of a wider strategic collaboration between HPC Wales and Fujitsu, designed to promote the uptake of high-performance computing (HPC) in Welsh industries in areas of priority to the Welsh Government. The successful projects will utilise the HPC infrastructure of HPC Wales, powered by Fujitsu PRIMERGY clusters. Studentship projects will also have access to collaboration with researchers and HPC specialists from Fujitsu Laboratories of Europe and the Technical Computing Solutions Unit of Fujitsu Limited. This announcement follows Fujitsu’s recent re-entry into the UK HPC market after a ten-year absence, winning a four-year £15m project in 2011 to provide HPC Wales’ distributed computing grid, and reflects its extensive activity in the field of HPC simulation.
The topic areas for the PhD studentships under the research collaboration align with three of the Welsh Government’s priority areas – Energy and Environment, Advanced Materials and Manufacturing, and Life Sciences. Three studentships focus specifically on the marine energy industry, reflecting the tremendous potential for Wales to produce a high proportion of its future energy needs from low-carbon wave- and tidal-based sources and the accompanying economic impact that will come from developing marine energy. Under the environment banner, one project will study the consequences of any future climate change on the stability of the polar ice sheets and on global sea level. Another project will focus on simulations to predict the topography and heat flow contributions from the Earth’s mantle, which will be of value to the oil and gas industry. The area of genomics also features strongly, reflecting the rapid expansion of this subject through the development of the second generation of DNA sequencing devices that can produce fully sequenced genomes extremely rapidly and at low cost. A further 13 studentships are expected to be announced in July 2012 and July 2013.
David Craddock, Chief Executive Officer of HPC Wales, commented: “We are pleased to be supporting these projects, which are at the leading edge of scientific research and at the same time will contribute to the development of the Welsh economy. The projects already involve significant collaboration between the universities and businesses and promise to strengthen and grow a number of key areas of the Welsh economy.”
Fujitsu Limited’s Masahiko Yamada, President of Technical Computing Solutions Unit, said: “Fujitsu is proud to be engaged in these projects in Wales with the establishment of studentships and by making Fujitsu researchers available for collaboration with Welsh scientists. The studentships cover areas that are of both commercial benefit and, importantly, will contribute to future society – through the development of low-carbon energy generation, a better understanding of the effects of climate change, the sequestration of carbon dioxide, and the use of genomics to battle infection and improve agriculture.”
Energy and Environment
- Marine Energy Industry
Three PhD studentships are targeted specifically at the marine energy industry, reflecting the tremendous potential for Wales to produce a high-proportion of its future energy needs from low-carbon wave- and tidal-based sources and the accompanying economic impact that will come from developing marine energy. In summary, these three projects encompass:
• A project led by Professor Roger Falconer of Cardiff University to investigate both short- and long-term impacts of marine energy devices and structures (such as tidal stream turbine farms, tidal barrages and lagoons) by applying and refining state-of-the-art multi-scale hydro-environmental models.
• A second project, led by Professor Tim O’Doherty of Cardiff University, to produce data to help optimise the performance and structural integrity of tidal stream turbines when placed in tidal farms.
• A project led by Dr Simon Neill of Bangor University is aimed at assessing the environmental impact of farms of tidal stream turbines. In particular, it will examine the effects on offshore sand banks, which are an important form of natural coastal protection and a strategic source of marine aggregate for the construction industry.
• Professor James Scourse and Dr Mattias Green, of Bangor University, will lead a project in collaboration with the Climate Change Consortium of Wales, C3W, to study the consequences of any future climate change on the stability of the polar ice sheets and global sea level.
• Dr Huw Davies of Cardiff University will lead a further environment-focused project, involving simulations to predict the topography and heat flow contributions from the Earth’s mantle. This will be of value to the oil and gas industry, through increasing understanding of the evolution of hydrocarbon basins, both as new sources of oil and gas and as likely carbon sequestration reservoirs.
- Life Sciences (including genomics)
• A project led by Dr Tatiana Tatarinova of the University of Glamorgan to develop a novel integrated computational approach to distinguish between toxic and nontoxic bacterial strains. This could be used for rapid diagnosis of infections and environmental and food contamination, helping doctors to select appropriate antibiotic treatment and helping ecologists to deal with disasters and food poisoning outbreaks, for example.
• A project led by Dr Denis Larkin and Dr Martin Swain of Aberystwyth University will take advantage of HPC resources and low-cost sequencing to develop new algorithms and perform comparative genomics studies of different sheep breeds, with the aim of improving the breeding of Welsh sheep to enhance meat quality and reduce their environmental impact.