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RAC 2017 Recipients Announced - 108 Projects in Western Canada

On May 19, Compute Canada announced the recipients of its 2017 Resource Allocation Competitions (RAC), representing some of Canada’s brightest minds and top research projects. Of the 390 allocations, nearly one third of them were awarded to projects led by researchers based at WestGrid member or partner institutions.

The Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition and Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) Competition are annual, peer-reviewed processes to allocate 80% of Compute Canada’s resources. The remaining 20% is reserved for use via its Rapid Access Service.

“Each year we’ve seen the number and quality of RAC applicants increase, making the allocation process extremely competitive,” said Lindsay Sill, Executive Director of WestGrid. “I’m pleased to see so many projects from Western Canada among the recipients list as this is an excellent showcase of the strong research teams and exciting work happening at our member and partner institutions.”

To view the RAC 2017 recipient lists, click on the links below:

The diversity of projects receiving allocations represents the range of science supported by ARC today, from applications of artificial intelligence and deep learning, to enhancing our understanding of climate change effects, to designing new ways to diagnose and treat diseases.

For example, at the University of Alberta, Professor Michael Bowling is using a RAC allocation to support investigations into building automated decision-making systems for real-world applications. Last year, the Bowling group’s Arcade Learning Environment, a freely available set of benchmark domains for the evaluation of decision-making methods, received worldwide attention for being the platform Google DeepMind chose to evaluate their research.

At the University of Saskatchewan, Professor Howard Wheater’s RAC allocation supports the processing, management, visualization, and analysis of large quantities of multidimensional climate-related data for Global Water Futures (GWF), a multi-site water research partnership. With 380 researchers across Canada, GWF is well-positioned to help develop a national water strategy that addresses issues ranging from health and safety to sustainable development of industries to protection of crucial water resources.

University of British Columbia Assistant Professor Mauricio Ponga is using his RAC allocation to aid in the design of new lightweight alloys, which could play a crucial role in improving the efficiency of transportation vehicles. As weight reduction is one of the most effective ways to increase vehicle fuel economy and energy efficiency, Ponga hopes to identify new mechanisms that could be used for improving the mechanical properties and industrial applications of lightweight alloy materials.

At the University of Manitoba, Assistant Professor Michelle Liu’s RAC allocation is supporting the analysis of genome-wide microarray data from the Autism Genome Project Consortium. Her group’s novel genetic mapping methods and next generation exome sequencing data analyses can identify novel chromosomal regions linked to autism which were not detected using genome-wide association studies. By identifying the causal genetic genes for autism, her project has the potential to provide key biological markers for better diagnosis and treatment for autism in the future.

All 2017 RAC recipients are given priority access on WestGrid and Compute Canada systems for the allocation amount awarded in the competition. The allocation includes access to WestGrid and Compute Canada’s distributed team of technical experts, who are critical to enabling the efficient use of these state-of-the-art systems. (Note: This technical support is in addition to the day-to-day services the technical teams also deliver to thousands of other researchers across Canada who only require minimal or short-term access to WestGrid or Compute Canada resources.)

Other Highlights from the West

In 2017, 108 projects based at WestGrid member or partner institutions received RAC allocations.

Western Canadian recipients by province:


 Western Canadian recipients by research area:


For a complete summary of RAC 2017 statistics and results, visit the Compute Canada website. If you would like more information about the RAC overall, visit Compute Canada’s RAC - Frequently Asked Questions page.

The next RAC Call for Proposals will be issued in Fall 2017. Prior to then, out-of-round allocations may be available to researchers if there is a chance of an unexpected major breakthrough or if he/she is a faculty member who has recently moved to Canada. For more information, email