Petascale Campus Initiative

The Petascale Campus Initiative (PCI) is a five year plan to accelerate the University's capacity for data-intensive research over 2018 to 2022. The PCI is ensuring all our researchers have the tools and resources to produce world-class research.

The Petascale Campus Initiative (PCI) is a five year plan to accelerate the University's capacity for data-intensive research over 2018 to 2022.

The PCI Project team, led by Senior Academic Convenor Prof Andrew Turpin, is now implementing a program of activity including engaging with academic divisions to establish processes to ensure researchers’ needs are fully expressed when prioritising infrastructure and servicing requests.

This team is working to ensure our researchers, students and collaborators have the necessary tools and resources now and in the future to keep us at the leading edge of research in this exciting, fast-paced era of data science.

The PCI is structured to support our researcher-led vision: embedding a process of continual consideration, development and resourcing for both our digital science infrastructure and the academic specialists who will help us maximise our use of that infrastructure.

Our challenges

  1. build the necessary infrastructure and services for a digitally-enabled research campus
  2. future-proof its operations and resources
  3. create a community of software practitioners and domain experts to support data-intensive research
  4. streamline research data management.

Our process - as a diagram

PCI process v2

Our people

PCI PROJECT TEAM (Based in Chancellery)

Prof Liz Sonenberg,
DVC/R delegate and Chancellery Project sponsor
Prof Andrew Turpin, Senior Academic Convenor (1.0 FTE)
Mr Rowland Mosbergen,
Project Facilitator (1.0 FTE)
Dr Rebecca Farrington, Academic Convenor, Physical and Natural Sciences (0.6 FTE)
Associate Prof Paul Gruba, Academic Convenor, Humanities and Social Sciences (0.6 FTE)
Associate Prof Douglas Boyle, Academic Convenor, Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences (0.4 FTE)
Ms Helen van de Pol, Communications Lead (0.2 FTE)
Dr Helena Lynn, Program Manager, Research Data Management (1.0 FTE)


Dr Stephen Giugni,
Associate Director, Research Platform Services
Dr Lyle Winton, Manager, Digital Scholarship
Enterprise Architecture team led by Mr Sean Turner
Mr Alan Palser
, Senior Program Manager (0.5 FTE)
Mr Simran Singh, Project Manager (0.5 FTE)

MELBOURNE DATA ANALYTICS PLATFORM Our team of experts in data analytics

Dr Edoardo Tescari, high performance computing, big data management (1.0 FTE)
Ms Kim Doyle, natural language processing and text mining (0.8 FTE)
Dr Daniel Russo-Batterham, wrangling, analysis and visualisation, Research Data Steward co-located in Scholarly Services (1.0 FTE from October 2019)
Mr Geordie Zhang, data wrangling, research data management and administration (0.6 FTE)
Mr Lucien Boland, grid computing, high end computing, large-scale data storage, Linux system administration (0.6 FTE)
Ms Priyanka Pillai, bioinformatics and health informatics specialist, Research Data Steward co-located in Scholarly Services (0.4 FTE)
Mr Zaher Joukhadar, research software engineering, image and video processing and analysis (0.5 FTE)
Dr Simon Mutch, scientific simulations and modelling, high performance computing, data visualisation (0.5 FTE)
Ms Usha Nattala, research data specialist, software developer (1.0 FTE)


PCI Committee
The plans and activities of the PCI Project will be approved through the PCI Committee, chaired by Prof Liz Sonenberg, DVC/R delegate and Chancellery Project sponsor

Digital Research Platforms (DRP) Committee
The DRP is a representative committee where all members represent a Faculty or a major research support unit provider, chaired by Prof Rachel Webster, School of Physics


In 2019 access to National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) access has been available to University of Melbourne researchers through a LIEF grant. August 30 is the due date for Q4 allocations. Half year update here.

2 August 2019: July update - announcing the new Melbourne Data Analytics Platform, welcoming new team members, updating on infrastructure progress ...

15 March 2019: Today's news update includes further developments across infrastructure, leadership and workforce building.

18 January 2019: Year 2: Call for Expressions of Interest from Software Engineers, Data Scientists, Informaticians, Data Stewards, Data Visualisation experts, Simulation & Modelling experts, Data Curators or Generalists expert in supporting data-intensive research.

9 November 2018: Year 1: Building our Petascale Campus, how the University is delivering on its five year plan to uplift informatics, data and compute capabilities for research.

Work to date


  • On Monday 2 September the new Melbourne Data Analytics Platform (MDAP) launched with the opening of its first round of Expressions of Interest to work with the team of experts on longer-term collaborative research projects (three months +). The aim of MDAP is to support data-intensive research, increase the capability of research teams to perform such research across every discipline in the University, and to connect already existing capabilities to form a community of practice for data-intensive research methods. MDAP offers a dedicated team of academic specialists with expertise in data science, data stewardship, research software engineering and high-performance computing. As academics, MDAP staff will work closely with researchers and academics on collaborative projects to produce high impact research. Applications open until 11:59pm, Sunday 22 September 2019.
  • In June Dr Helena Lynn joined Prof Turpin for a three year appointment to review Research Data Management at the University. Helena’s PhD was in Molecular Virology: Utilising advanced microscopy techniques to elucidate the role of the microtubule cytoskeleton in poxvirus replication and pathogenesis. In the past three years she has been engaged in USyd’s strategic planning, coming to that work from a digital research role in the Sydney Informatics Hub.
  • Following a call for Expressions of Interest to join the PCI 'On Ramp' in January, a comprehensive selection process has now led to eight new internal appointments (as mostly 0.5FTE secondments). Onboarding followed and already the team has been consulting widely as it builds its community and networks.
  • New compute hardware and cloud capacity has gone live and a new dashboard for launching cloud computing has been released by Research Platform Services and University Services and the PCI Team delivered an update on existing in-house compute systems and plans to upgrade them - in consultation with University expert groups - for the first half of 2019.
  • A light-touch process to allocated resources on the University account on NCI has been facilitated though the PCI Team.


  • The PCI Strategy was endorsed by University Executive, including $500K from Chancellery to progress the initiative and plan for and implement the On Ramp; establish the PCI Project team with Senior Academic Convenor, Academic Convenors and Project Facilitator appointments made.
  • Large-scale Computing and Research Data expert groups were formed.
  • A University-wide engagement, planning and prioritisation framework was established in conjunction with University Services.
  • Team members consulted widely with researchers to identify the University’s existing 'On Ramp' workforce and plans for further supporting and developing their work.
  • The University Services and PCI teams worked to finalise a 'Services Map' to establish a framework from which to prioritise resources for researchers.
  • The PCI team sought and obtained co-investments from most Faculties for submissions to the October Planning and Budget Conference for both capital expenditure for hardware resources and building the On Ramp.
  • The PCI team developed a draft of the On Ramp Implementation Plan for building research software engineering, data management and data science expertise to support digital research.
  • Engagement across all Faculties and University Services divisions continued to inform the PCI roll-out, ensuring that the consultations on new project proposals continue to be comprehensive and inclusive.
  • An evaluation framework for the PCI project, detailing three specific domains: Infrastructure, Workforce and Leadership, was prepared for implementation from 2019.
  • Following review by the Digital Research Platforms Committee, the  On Ramp Implementation Plan was approved at the December meeting of the PCI Committee. Calls for expressions of interest in newly-created positions were announced in January 2019.
  • With the success of an ANU-led NCI LIEF grant to which UoM was a partner, the PCI team established a process to allocate our researchers' access to this valuable national compute resource.


  • The University's Capital Advisory Group recommended $7.25M be released for urgent infrastructure upgrades and improvements
  • The PCI was presented at the annual Planning and Budget Conference


The PCI Project is being hosted at Melbourne Bioinformatics, Ground Floor, 187 Grattan Street, the University of Melbourne 3010


Andrew Turpin
Senior Academic Convenor

Rowland Mosbergen
Project Facilitator
+61 (3) 8344 6623

Helen van de Pol
Communications Lead
+61 (0) 448 920 235

Engage with us

We welcome input from all University researchers, students and collaborators.


“Increasingly, scientific breakthroughs will be powered by advanced computing capabilities that help researchers manipulate and explore massive datasets. The speed at which any given scientific discipline advances will depend on how well its researchers collaborate with one another, and with technologists, in areas of eScience such as databases, workflow management, visualization, and cloud-computing technologies.”

Back cover, The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery, T. Hey, S. Tansley, and K. Tolle, Eds., Redmond, VA: Microsoft Research, 2009