News Bureau | University of Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign logo


2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008
Email to a friend envelope icon for send to a friend

NCSA founder Larry Smarr to leave UI for San Diego campus

John Melchi, (217) 244-3049;

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — After 20 years at the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign and 15 years as the director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Larry Smarr announced today that he has accepted a professorship at the University of California, San Diego.  His wife, Janet Smarr, also has accepted a position at UCSD.  They will begin their new positions July 1.

The Smarrs raised two sons in Champaign-Urbana, and now that the youngest is about to start college, the time seemed right to evaluate new opportunities.

“With this impending turning point in our lives, Janet and I have thought a lot about the future,” Smarr said.  “I have come to realize that after 20 intense years of building at UIUC – creating first NCSA and then the Alliance – that I need some time for renewal.  During the last few years I have turned down a number of very interesting job offers, but, finally, the UCSD offers for both of us just seemed like the right point of departure.  It will allow us to continue the close family ties to our sons and give us the personal challenges of new surroundings and new intellectual opportunities.”

Smarr will join the UCSD computer science and engineering faculty, where he will collaborate with a wide range of academic researchers and private-sector companies that work on the frontiers of development of the global information infrastructure.  Janet Smarr, a UI professor of comparative literature, will become a faculty member in the UCSD department of theater and dance.

“Larry Smarr has made enormous contributions to the university and this community.  He and his team have literally helped define the new high-tech world we live in and put the UI at the center of the information revolution,” said Provost Richard Herman.  “We are very fortunate that one of those contributions was to build a very strong team at NCSA and the Alliance that is ready to address the exciting challenges of the next few years.”

On March 2, Smarr, who founded NCSA in 1985 and the National Computational Science Alliance in 1997, assumed the new role of Alliance Strategic Adviser.  This change freed him of his management responsibilities of the Alliance and NCSA.

“The Alliance and NCSA have achieved the reputation that they have because of the hard work and the vision of Larry Smarr,” said Dan Reed, who took over the helm as Alliance director in March.  “We are fortunate that we will continue to have Larry’s input and insight even as he moves to a new position on the West Coast.”

With his announcement of a more complete framework for his future activities, Smarr made it clear that he will continue his close working relationship with the campus, NCSA and the Alliance.

Specifically, Smarr will remain involved in these areas:

• Alliance Strategic Adviser
Smarr will continue to work closely with the Alliance management team to identify emerging trends that will become part of the second five years of Alliance focus areas.  As a part of this role, Smarr is a co-principal investigator on the Alliance proposal for a National Science Foundation terascale computing system and will play an active role with the Alliance team during the competition.  Smarr will continue to use the Access Grid to partake in Alliance virtual meetings, with quarterly visits to campus to work with Alliance and NCSA management.

• Recruitment to UI Research Park
Smarr also will continue to work with the university as it develops the new University Research Park.  This rapidly expanding research park will soon be anchored at the north end with the new NCSA and department of computer science buildings.  Smarr will work directly with the Atkins Group and Fox Development, developers of the research park, to attract technology companies to this community.

• Co-Founding of Champaign-Urbana Software Startup
Smarr is co-founding a software development and services company with NCSA Executive Director Jim Bottum.  The company, to be headquartered in the University Research Park, will focus on rapid transition of Alliance and UI research prototypes to private-sector services and products.

“I believe that UIUC has the right team in place to create the changes that will lift the campus and the community that surrounds it,” Smarr said.  “I look forward to contributing to that worthy goal, and I truly appreciate all that the university has done to make Champaign-Urbana a productive place for Janet and me, NCSA and the Alliance.”