George Morris joined ITS as Director of Research Computing in January. Before arriving at Dartmouth, George was Chief Information Officer for Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum and Weld Hill Research Center. His role at Harvard included research computing as well as leadership responsibility for the division’s administrative and academic computing services. George has also held scientific informatics leadership positions at biotechs and pharmaceutical firms including Genetics Institute, Wyeth, Zycos, and Novartis. Throughout his career, he led initiatives to integrate computing systems with research and development lifecycles to help companies innovate, discover, and develop novel therapeutics.
We asked George a few questions about his background, his interests, and why he made the move to Dartmouth.
Why did the Director of Research Computing position appeal to you?
The primary appeal lies in the transformational nature of this role at Dartmouth. Secondly, it’s an opportunity to return to my passion for research. I join Dartmouth at a unique point in time where there is a vast appetite across all levels to leverage resources and talent in research computing. Higher education institutions across the globe are increasingly looking to research computing as a means to attract and retain faculty, drive student success, and compete for research grants. It is my view that success in this role will greatly enhance Dartmouth’s capabilities and standing. It is an immense challenge that I relish.
What would you like to accomplish in your first year as Director of Research Computing?
I hope to accomplish many things, but my priority is to work collaboratively with Dartmouth’s faculty and IT community to build a common vision of high-performance computing. By doing so, we can leverage the vast amount of talent and resources already in place and simplify researchers’ usage.
[Ed. note: In order to solve large problems in science, engineering, or business, high-performance computing aggregates computing power in a way that delivers greater function than one could receive from a typical desktop computer or workstation.]
To remain competitive, Dartmouth must define a high-performance computing vision that meets today’s diversity in supply and demand. Our vision involves harnessing the power of the Discovery cluster and other high-performance computing resources available at Dartmouth; looking towards promising cloud-based opportunities; and working with our most important resource: people. We aim to expand a core team that will work with faculty and ITS to weave research computing technology into the fabric of teaching and research at Dartmouth.
What is the most surprising little-known fact about you?
I’m a fairly mild mannered, low-key type of individual, but I have been an avid participant in amateur autocross and drift racing. This outlet permitted the “beast mode” in me to express itself. A squealing tire is a happy tire.
Where did you last go on vacation?
This past summer, I spent two weeks in Europe with my daughter, Emily: one week in France, and another in England. My trip to France included fulfilling a lifelong desire to visit the Normandy beaches. It was a very memorable trip and perhaps a capstone vacation with Emily before she attends college.
Read any good books lately?
Since I was headed to Europe for the summer, I most recently read D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Battle for the Normandy Beaches, by Stephen Ambrose. Since the summer, I’ve put a moratorium on recreational reading to focus on my transition to Dartmouth.
Are you using any new apps?
While not necessarily new, I have an increased appreciation for Waze, as I am commuting from my home in Salem as I transition to the greater Hanover area. It’s a terrific example of crowdsourced surveillance of traffic conditions.
Anything else you’d like us to know about you?
Before moving into the world of computing, I performed laboratory research in gene expression. My first job was working as a lab tech at MIT for Dr. Susumu Tonegawa who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine. It was quite the experience for me at such an impressionable age.