Kim Wong and Adam Hobaugh connected by waves of light
Features & Articles

Research and IT foster strategic collaboration

  • Technology & Science
  • Innovation and Research

The Center for Research Computing (CRC) has new permanent leadership.

Kim Wong and Adam Hobaugh will co-direct the center, connecting the research computing community with Pitt’s Information Technology unit.

Appointed by Senior Vice Chancellor for Research Rob Rutenbar, Wong and Hobaugh, who have served as interim co-directors since November 2020, will work to offer Pitt faculty from all backgrounds resources for incorporating advanced computing and data technology into their work.

“CRC’s new co-director structure embodies Pitt’s commitment to both scientific and technical leadership in research computation,” said Rutenbar. “Together, we leverage Pitt IT’s expertise on systems, the cloud and state of the art networking, which allows us to deliver world-class computing and data services to our full spectrum of partners. Adam brings strong IT leadership, and Kim has great leadership strength in science.”

The CRC is a mainstay for the growing number of researchers integrating computing into their work, enabling free access to advanced hardware and software. Pitt has redoubled its efforts to recognize the transformative role data and information play in today’s world, with the Office of the Provost announcing the 2021-22 academic year as the Year of Data and Society.

Rutenbar said that it has been a challenge to make Pitt’s advanced computing resources familiar and accessible across the University. To address this, Wong and Hobaugh are spearheading the development of Advanced Research Computing Services (ARCS), an umbrella structure coordinating resources for researchers.

A website for ARCS will launch later this year, creating a one-stop gateway to the gamut of resources and expertise of CRC, Pitt IT, PSC, the University Library System, the Health Science Library System and Pitt Research.

A team of research faculty at CRC also offer training and consultation on topics including simulation and modeling, machine learning and genomic sequencing analysis.

Meet the directors

Wong has been at Pitt since 2008, becoming a research associate professor in 2017. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Utah after earning his PhD in chemistry at the University of Texas, Austin. He describes the CRC’s mission as supporting discovery.

“I want to make advanced research computing easier to use — to democratize an advanced skill set to transform the ways we pursue deeper understandings of self, community, humanity, the universe and the connections between them,” he said.

Shawn Brown, Pitt’s vice chancellor for research computing and director of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), called Wong a driver of outreach and innovation.

“Kim continues to be a leader in supporting a growing range of researchers, from seasoned practitioners to novices, through refining configurations of hardware, software and workflows, as well as conducting many workshops and individual consultations,” Brown said.

Hobaugh currently serves as Pitt’s deputy chief information officer after holding Pitt IT leadership positions over the past 10 years. He has worked at a robotics startup and in other industries after serving in the United States Air Force.

Brown said Hobaugh has already made an impact at the CRC. “As interim co-director, Adam has helped develop strategic goals to expand CRC services to meet the growing needs of Pitt researchers while fostering collaboration and communication with the research community as well as PSC.”

“I’m impressed with the number of grants tied to CRC resources and the exceptional talent and passion on a team focused on helping faculty and students,” said Hobaugh. “They are always building and enhancing connections and relationships within the community.”

Vice Chancellor and Chief Information Officer Mark Henderson said he is excited about the collaboration. “The positive impact that the research taking place at Pitt has had and continues to have around the world really cannot be overstated. Pitt IT and our partner organizations owe it to our great research community and each other to work together in every aspect toward collectively delivering the best possible resources,” he said.

“I’m delighted that the Office of Research and Pitt IT have formalized our collaboration under Adam’s and Kim’s joint leadership. What we’re doing is unprecedented at Pitt, and just one of many steps we’re taking to strengthen synergies toward improving and expanding our computing and scientific research capabilities,” Henderson added.


— Brian Connelly, photography by Tom Altany