Professor David Abramson has been named 2016’s Education CIO of the year for his work enabling genetic researchers to quickly and easily access high-powered computing resources tailored to their field of study.
Abramson, and his team at the University of Queensland, built the Genomics Virtual Lab, a pre-packaged cloud-based toolset powered by the NeCTAR federated research cloud.
The GVL features everything a genomics researcher is likely to need to complete their data-heavy work, including a middleware layer of machine images, cloud management tools and the flexibility to spin up any sized compute clusters on demand, based on the task at hand.
The truly international effort has been a collaboration between the UQ team plus researchers at the University of Melbourne - which leads the NeCTAR cloud - and John Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Funded by a government grant, the Genomics Virtual Lab is offered to any Australian researcher for free.
While many of the tools, and access to the NeCTAR computing pool, have for some time been available to genomics researchers separately, the process to to piece all of the necessary elements has been complex and time consuming.
With the GVL, Abramson is seeking to ensure that scientists are not wasting their valuable time, meaning they can focus on potentially life-saving discoveries.
Its success is evident in its rapid take up by the genomics research community. There is no doubt the team’s efforts are already injecting much-needed research back into the life sciences field in Australia.
"I think at a time when Australians are being asked to have a boom of innovation, it's very rewarding to see research recognised," Abramson said.
He has risen to the top of a diverse and exemplary field of education finalists, including Professor Ken Udas’ campaign to bring digital literacy to the corrective services system and boost prisoners’ chances of rehabilitation, and Trevor McDougall’s savvy overhaul of the Open Colleges online learning platform.