Indiana University celebrates the 20th anniversary of the International Networks Program

Twenty years ago, Indiana University took its first step toward being a world leader in the management and operation of high-speed international research networks when IU President Michael A. McRobbie, then the IU vice president for information technology, started the International Networks Program.

McRobbie was the principal investigator for the initial TransPAC award, the program's first major success, which was funded by a $12 million award from the National Science Foundation in 1998. This pioneering project, now in its fourth funding cycle with awards totaling nearly $29 million, connects at extremely high speeds researchers in the U.S. with their counterparts in Asia, allowing them to share massive data sets quickly and easily.

At a reception to mark the 20-year milestone, McRobbie described how the International Networks Program began and thanked his colleagues who helped to establish TransPAC.

"Everything we learned in those early TransPAC days enabled us to get better and better—and to develop an international reputation for excellence in network engineering and operations of which IU is immensely proud," McRobbie said.

From the top: Dave Jent, Indiana University Associate Vice President of Networks; Jim Williams, retired director of International Networks at IU; Jennifer Schopf, director of International Networks at IU; IU President Michael A. McRobbie; and Brad Wheeler, IU vice president for information technology and chief information officer pose for a photo at the anniversary celebration. McRobbie with Kazunori Konishi, recipient of the Thomas Hart Benton Medallion. McRobbie speaks at the event held in the Cyberinfrastructure Building Atrium. Photos by Emily Sterneman

Since taking that first step in 1998, the International Networks Program has taken leaps in its growth, attracting nearly $50 million in federal government funding, as well as funding from other U.S. and international sources to support its activities.

Research and education networks managed and operated in Indiana reach 91 percent of countries around the world, furthering important discoveries in a range of fields including astronomy, bioinformatics, climate science and medicine.

At the 20th anniversary celebration, McRobbie was also able to honor Kazunori Konishi, who has been involved in TransPAC since its inception and is the director of Asia Pacific Advanced Networks – Japan, with the Thomas Hart Benton Mural Medallion.

"Konishi-san, you have achieved great distinction in your career," McRobbie said. "Your expertise and your willingness to collaborate have helped to connect researchers around the world—and your partnership has made an important contribution to Indiana University’s success in international networking."

Now led by Jennifer Schopf, International Networks at IU continues to be a global leader in managing networks critical to 21st century scientific research.

Read IU President McRobbie's speech from the event