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Pepperdine | Seaver College

Research Computing Servers Expand Research Accessibility in Virtual Learning Environment

When teaching and learning moved to virtual settings to protect the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pepperdine’s Information Technology (IT) and Research and Sponsored Programs offices worked creatively to continue to support faculty and students in their research endeavors. With the new research computing service, Pepperdine researchers, no matter their personal equipment, can access superior hardware for their complex simulations and calculations remotely. 

“These systems are custom tailored to meet faculty’s unique needs. We are able to adjust performance and add additional memory, processing power or disk whenever they need it. Also, allowing them 24/7 remote access has been significantly helpful during the pandemic,” shares Brian Aasen, server engineering manager.

The servers have facilitated projects for several Seaver College faculty members, including associate professor of biology Javier Monzón and assistant professor of biology Leah Stiemsma and their students. In their server, Monzón’s conservation genetics class can perform three major anaylses to look at population genetic structure, molecular variance, and population viability. Stiemsma and her students are also able to perform complex DNA sequencing to analyze the bacteria in the breast tissue microbiome and its potential indicators of breast cancer. 

Previously, Monzón and Stiemsma recall the significant time it took from class for each student to install computing software on their personal equipment, troubleshoot software, and clarify data discrepancies due to system or equipment differences. The research computing servers have proved increasingly beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic allowing every student to remotely view and control the same software without being limited by their own personal equipment. Now they can perform intensive computations—functions that previously would have taken several hours—in minutes with the same results across the board. Faculty anticipate continuing and possibly expanding their server usage when students return to campus due to its efficiency. 

To learn more visit the Pepperdine Research Computing website.