John Towns is the Deputy CIO for Research IT at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. NCSA, Technology Services, and the Vice Chancellor for Research collaborated to create the position of Deputy CIO for Research IT. This position is focused on a crucial goal of the campus strategic plan: to foster scholarship, discovery, and innovation by supporting our faculty’s needs for information technology.
In the role of Deputy CIO, John works to enhance technologies and services used in research. Drawing on his resources and experiences at NCSA, Technology Services, and other campus units, John is well prepared to meet these challenges. He focuses particular attention on high-performance computing, high-speed networking, big data, and visualization.
John also collaborates with members of the campus research community to develop new initiatives, conduct ongoing needs assessments, and coordinate research IT activities across campus units.
In addition to being the Deputy CIO for Research IT, John is also PI and Project Director for the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) project and the Executive Director for the XSEDE Project Office at NCSA (the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, also at Illinois) where he is the Director of the Illinois Campus Cluster Program. He plays significant roles in the deployment and operation of high-end resources and services, and distributed computing projects providing leadership and direction in the development and provisioning of advanced computing resources and services. His background is in computational astrophysics utilizing a variety of computational architectures with a focus on application performance analysis. He earned M.S. degrees in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Illinois and a B.S. in Physics from the University of Missouri-Rolla.