Los Alamos Grants University of Michigan $15M to Fund Computing Collaboration

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico has awarded the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor $15 million to partner with the lab to develop advanced computing technologies — including artificial intelligence (AI) and increasingly sophisticated modeling techniques.
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Los Alamos National Laboratory has awarded the University of Michigan $15 million to partner with the lab to develop advanced computing technologies. // Stock photo

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico has awarded the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor $15 million to partner with the lab to develop advanced computing technologies — including artificial intelligence (AI) and increasingly sophisticated modeling techniques.

AI and scientific computing play a critical role in helping researchers address some of the world’s most complex challenges — from finding solutions to environmental challenges and developing solutions that combat climate change to modeling the spread of infectious diseases.

“Even though there have been significant advances in computational algorithms and computer hardware, much of the potential of modeling and simulations remains to be realized in many applications that are of broad interest to society,” says Karthik Duraisamy, principal investigator on the project, a professor of aerospace engineering and director of the Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering.

“In many cases, this is primarily due to a lack of alignment between the complex underlying physical processes, the computational algorithms to describe them, and the computer codes and hardware used to execute the algorithms. Through this award, we have a unique opportunity to address this challenge by harnessing the breadth and depth of expertise from across U-M and LANL. Together, we will create a vertically integrated solution to help unlock a spectrum of unmet needs in scientific discovery and engineering design.”

The solution involves tightly coupling extreme-scale algorithm development and domain knowledge with elements of AI and computer architecture to generate significant efficiencies, scales, and throughput so that researchers can address the root causes of, and potential solutions for, important global challenges, according to Duraisamy.

While the research is foundational in nature and focuses on transformational advances in scientific computing, the team initially will apply these methods to explore the fundamental physics of fusion and its potential impact on clean energy and basic processes in stellar evolution.

As part of the ongoing collaboration, U-M also will provide LANL researchers with access to its suite of custom generative AI tools, as developed by the university’s Information & Technology Services team.

“We created these AI services to foster a spirit of innovation in our community and beyond,” says Ravi Pendse, vice president for information technology and chief information officer at U-M. “We look forward to growing that spirit exponentially through our ongoing work with Los Alamos National Laboratory.”

The new research collaboration between U-M and LANL builds on U-M President Santa J. Ono’s university-wide strategy to amplify research and scholarship, which calls for enhanced partnerships with national laboratories. LANL is one of 17 national laboratories overseen by the Department of Energy, and each one possesses unique facilities and instruments to facilitate transdisciplinary research, with a strong emphasis on translating basic science to innovation.

In addition to its latest partnership with LANL, U-M also maintains collaborative research agreements with five other DOE national laboratories, including Idaho National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab in Illinois, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington state.

U-M faculty who are co-principal investigators on this research project include: Reetuparna Das, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science; Alex Gorodetsky, assistant professor of aerospace engineering; Brendan Kochunas, assistant professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences; Scott Mahlke, professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

The team also includes faculty and students from U-M’s College of Engineering and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.