May 19, 2020

A Cadre of Computers Churns Out Quantum Chemistry Computations to Help Fight COVID-19

computer lab

WCU’s Information Services and Technologies (IS&T) has integrated 52 computers located in Schmucker Science Center South into a grid computing consortium known as the World Community Grid. The Scripps Research Institute will harness this consortium’s immense computational resources to look for possible treatments for COVID-19 (https://www.ibm.org/OpenPandemics). Since IS&T joined Team WCU, our contribution has consistently ranked in the top five among university contributors who participate from around the world.

“It’s a big data problem,” says Kurt Kolasinski (Chemistry), who initiated this collaboration among WCU’s College of the Sciences and Mathematics, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and IS&T. For the past nine years, Kolasinski has been involved in IBM’s project to utilize spare computing capacity. He approached IS&T with the concept of adding to his existing cadre of 15 chemistry lab computers to help find ways to combat COVID-19.

Participants’ computers are working on quantum chemistry computations when the screen saver activates or when the computers are idle. Computations halt when the participant uses the computer.

COVID-19 researchers need “thousands of years of computation time to model drug-virus interactions and we have the computers idle in my lab” and elsewhere, he notes. From a base of 60+ computers at WCU, generating more than two million points (again, in the top five globally) we are off to a great start.

Anyone can join Team WCU by going to https://join.worldcommunitygrid.org?recruiterId=762146.

 

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