Research Computing playing leading role in $2 million sustainability project

Research Computing is playing a leading role in the Global to Local Analysis of Systems Sustainability (GLASSNET) project, a collaborative effort to address sustainability issues related to land and water use that is funded by a $2 million award from the NSF.

The GLASSNET project, led by principal investigator Thomas Hertel, distinguished professor of agricultural economics, is an “international network of networks” that will bring together researchers from around the globe in disciplines such as crop science, climate science, ecology, economics, geography and hydrology to build a common language for sustainability research. Current partners include networks in the United States, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil and China.

Research Computing senior research scientist Carol Song is a co-PI on the NSF grant and is co-chairing the project’s working group on data and computational infrastructure with Matt Huber, professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences. They’re striving to ensure the data generated meets “FAIR” principles (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable).

Key GLASSNET activities are facilitated by MyGeoHub, a science gateway developed by Song’s team, which will be used for easy access to supercomputers, publishing tools and sharing datasets. Among the existing MyGeoHub tools that the project will make use of are the SIMPLE-G and GGCMI crop modeling tools and the AgMIP tool connecting crop scientists with economists and policy analysts.

MyGeoHub will also host tutorials and other interactive learning materials to assist the project in achieving one of its main goals, developing the next generation of sustainability researchers.

“We’ve discussed many data and computational challenges to working across different domains and scales, and this group demonstrated a wealth of creative ideas and presented solutions that worked for each network,” says Song. “We are in the right place at the right time, with forward-looking platforms (such as MyGeoHub and Purdue’s upcoming Anvil system) and tools to help build cross-network workflows.”

The GLASSNET team is hosting a series of workshops this summer, held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic, that will bring together a diverse group of sustainability researchers across different disciplines, countries and generations to share their experiences, discuss best practices and map out the remaining several years of the project.

The first workshop, held in June, focused on data integration and interoperability. Song will chair the September workshop on cyberinfrastructure, which will feature thought leaders from Purdue and elsewhere. The workshop series will culminate with the bi-annual networks meeting in October.

Writer: Adrienne Miller, science and technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), 765-496-8204,

Last updated: August 19, 2021