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Mel Bernstein elected president of MGHPCC

Mel Bernstein, Northeastern’s senior vice provost for research and graduate education, has been unanimously elected president of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, a state-of-the-art computational infrastructure and collaborative research center in Holyoke, Mass., and chairperson of MGHPCC Holyoke Inc., its nonprofit affiliate. He will succeed Tom Chmura in the position.

In the last 18 months, the MGHPCC has gone from vision to reality. Officially opening its doors in November 2012, the center is an unprecedented example of collaboration between private industry, state government, and five of the commonwealth’s leading research institutions.

Northeastern, Boston University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Massachusetts have each contributed $10 million to support construction of the facility, which is the first of its kind in the nation. The partnership also includes Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s office, Cisco Systems, and EMC Corp., a Hopkinton-based data-storage company founded by Northeastern engineering alumni.

“Now, the question is how do we move forward to maximize both the benefits of the facility and the collaborative spirit that has been developed in building it,” Bernstein said.

In recent months, MGHPCC has secured external funding from a variety of sources, including federal research and education grants and a $4.5 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. Bernstein is optimistic that by continuing to encourage collaboration among the center’s partners, it will become an even more competitive facility in its bid for major research funding.

Already, researchers from across the universities have entered into a number of collaborative research projects with seed funding from the facility. These are proof-of-concept projects, laying the foundation for larger-scale work once the MGHPCC is fully operational, which Bernstein expects will happen over the next six months.

“The university is thrilled that this investment has borne so much success already,” said provost Stephen W. Director. “It is particularly important that Mel is now in a position to carry the vision to the next level of research collaboration.”

Bernstein, who also serves as professor of the practice in technology policy and materials engineering, earned his doctorate in metallurgy and material science from Columbia University. Before joining Northeastern, he held faculty and senior administrative positions at Carnegie Mellon University, Tufts University, and the University of Maryland. In 2003, Bernstein created the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of University Programs and served as its director for three years.

“My responsibility at the university is to build our research base, and part of that has to be to work collaboratively with other universities both in the commonwealth, and across the nation” Bernstein said. “I plan to use the lessons gained through my work in Washington and elsewhere to make MGHPCC an even greater success.”