g i r f t y

CENIC Presents Innovations in Networking Awards

CA Community Colleges, CSU, Cultural & Scientific, University of California, Healthcare, K-12, Libraries, Performing Arts, Private Sector, Private Universities & NPS, RENS & NRENS
REGIONS: California, Western Region, National, International


Each year the CENIC Innovations in Networking Awards highlight exemplary efforts that leverage ultra-high bandwidth networking, particularly where innovations have the potential to transform the ways in which education and research are conducted or where they further the deployment of broadband in underserved areas.

On March 21, seven awards were presented during the 2017 CENIC Annual Conference: The Right Connection. CENIC operates the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network that provides a platform for these innovations and that is designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers, and individuals at other vital public-serving institutions. The following individuals, organizations, and projects were recognized with the 2017 CENIC Innovations in Networking Awards.

Broadband Applications

Christina DiCaro and Michael Dillon were recognized for their work on behalf of California’s libraries, which was critical to securing the necessary funding for public libraries to be connected to CalREN. Their tireless efforts as advocates for public libraries and the communities they serve have improved the lives of generations of California libraries, librarians and, most importantly, library patrons.

“The impact of connecting public libraries to CalREN has been tremendous. Over 80% of jurisdictions are connected or in the process of connecting, serving the needs of thousands of Californians who did not have high-speed broadband access. Bridging the digital divide continues to be important for libraries, and I am grateful to Mike and Christina for their work on behalf of the California Library Association to improve access statewide,” said Helen McAlary, president of the California Library Association.

The Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) and Director Steven Huter were recognized for NSRC’s work to improve network infrastructure, facilitate collaboration, and build professional capacity in countries around the world. The NSRC is comprised of a distributed team of network engineers and trainers living in Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, Europe, and Latin America, with the core group of staff and student employees based at the University of Oregon.

“Successful network connections in a less developed country require expertise both in hardware/software technology and in human connections. Steve’s unique, multi-cultural upbringing has made him superbly skilled in human connections with people in developing countries, and his immense passion has enabled him and his team to seek materials and technology specifically tailored to each country. He and his NSRC team have done outstanding work in reaching out to developing countries for the National Science Foundation. Through them, US researchers are richer and blessed to be connected to thousands of scientists from those countries who are able to join us for science discovery and to share global culture and values,” commented William (Bill) Chang, formerly with the Office of International Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation.

Experimental Applications

Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) and Wendy Huntoon, Katherine Mace, Marla Meehl, Lauren Rotman, and Jason Zurawski were recognized for their work to expand the diversity of the SCinet volunteer staff and to provide professional development opportunities to highly qualified women in the field of networking. SCinet is the annual supercomputing conference.

“Until you roll your sleeves up and dig into building and operating SCinet, which is an amazingly robust, high-bandwidth network that exists for just two weeks, it’s hard to imagine just how tough it is — and how rewarding it is. Many of our ESnet engineers have been members of the SCinet team over the years, bringing back valuable skills in network operations, project management, teamwork, and on-the-spot problem-solving. Our support of WINS is one way of contributing back to the conference and the community’s growth and success,” noted Inder Monga, executive director of the US Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network (ESnet).

Educational Applications

The California Community Colleges Technology Center and its leaders Tim Calhoon, Lou Delzompo, Patricia Donohue, Roberto Fuentes, and Jeff Holden were recognized for their work to develop a systemwide federated identity for students across the 113 California Community Colleges. The 2.1 million students who annually attend California’s Community Colleges enjoy enhanced convenience, security, and privacy thanks to the work of the Technology Center.

“With single sign-on access to all systemwide technology offerings, students statewide can easily access available tools and resources provided by the CCC to help them succeed in reaching their educational goals. With systemwide student identity to tie student data together, it is now within reach to achieve significant improvements in administrative decision making and student success rates," said Debra Connick, vice chancellor for Technology, Research, and Information Systems at the CCC Chancellor's Office.

Outstanding Individual Contribution

Tom DeFanti, research scientist at Calit2, University of California San Diego, was recognized for his work to develop next-generation networks, advance the mission of Calit2, and shape collaborations across organizations. DeFanti’s contributions to the development of next-generation networks and applications to advance science have been profound, and his work in visualization and virtual reality technologies has been recognized around the world.  

“Over the past 25 years, Tom has continued  to push the limits of big networks, as big resolution instruments, sensors, and simulations generate big visualization and virtual-reality data that scientists want to access, display, and share on big displays," noted Joe Mambretti, director of the International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University.


The Wide-Area Visualization Environment (WAVE) system at University of California Merced and Greg Dawe, Rachel Hadley, Nicola Lercari, and Jeffrey Weekley were recognized for the WAVE system’s power to enable members of the UC Merced community to conduct research, experience the world, and deepen their learning through an immersive environment.  

"The WAVE at UC Merced is the highest resolution walk-in virtual environment on earth, using 20 4K 3D screens. It is better than 20/20 visual acuity and matches the display to human eyesight, making it often look better than being there. It complements the original WAVE at UC San Diego, and the four library CAVEkiosks at UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, UC Merced, and UC San Diego, all tied together for daily telepresence over CENIC and the Pacific Research Platform," commented Tom DeFanti, research scientist at Calit2, University of California San Diego.

Corporate Partnership

Sunesys, one of the private companies that provide high speed, cost-effective network connections for CENIC and its members, was recognized for its collaboration with CENIC and the University of California Santa Cruz to develop a successful application for California Advanced Services Funding to construct new fiber in the Salinas Valley. The construction of this fiber will provide enhanced connectivity for two CENIC member institutions: UC Santa Cruz and Hartnell College.

“The connectivity provided by Sunesys will give local ISPs the capacity to provide Internet services to underserved areas in the Salinas Valley, which in turn helps communities that have not had adequate (or any) Internet services. It also helps CENIC constituents, particularly K-12 students in their schools and in their homes. Our common work has been a model for how the CENIC community can work with other, similar companies who build infrastructure for California’s communities,” said Louis Fox, CENIC president and CEO.

The future of education and research in California is brighter because of the contributions of these remarkable leaders. CENIC and all its members thank them for their contributions to the research and education community in California and beyond.