Leveraging Advanced Cyberinfrastructure and Developing Organizational Resilience for NSF Large Facilities in the Pandemic Era
- Understand how to design organizations such as NSF Large Facilities (LFs) to be resilient to future crises and major disasters.
- Inform future cyberinfrastructure innovations that can support the LFs’ science missions during major disruptions.
The COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020 has created major disruptions to the research enterprise. NSF-supported large facilities are critical elements of US research infrastructure and are increasingly dependent on advanced cyberinfrastructure (CI) comprising advanced computing, data and software assets, networking, and the related specialized workforce to accomplish their science missions. This study investigates how large facilities are impacted by, and are responding to, the pandemic challenge with a focus on understanding factors related to the use of existing CI. This project will also explore the value of CI in the broader social context of how people and the facilities perceive and respond to major disruptive events. The goal is to determine how to design large facility organizations to be more resilient during crises and major disasters and what CI capabilities are needed to support these and other large science projects to accomplish their science missions during such disruptions.
This study comprises three main research questions related to NSF large facilities and CI during the pandemic: (a) What types of research activities remain "business as usual" and what types of activities must adapt or stop completely under pandemic conditions (b) If facilities could turn back time, what would they have done to better prepare, dnd (c) What lessons are facilities learning from the current disruptions, and how can these be best disseminated to the facility, CI, and research communities? The approach is grounded in Weick's Theory of Organizing, and examines disruptions from the environment (ecological change) through the stages of enactment (immediate actions), selection (rules establishment), and retention (identification of approaches worth re-utilizing in future events), with feedback loops linking the stages and the environment. The project's goals will be accomplished primarily through interviews with domain scientists, CI users, developers, and administrators who are engaged in NSF large facility science and operations. The project will also analyze and document the organizational structures of the facilities to identify the key engagement points with national CI resources and services, towards enhancing the ability of the broader CI community to engage with the facilities. The ultimate objective of this project is to provide a framework for facilities and other large science projects to mitigate disruptions to their scientific and operational activities in current and future times of crisis. Study outcomes and findings will be widely disseminated to the stakeholder communities.