June 11, 2019


SUBJECT:    Retirement of Professor and California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) Founder, Larry Smarr

Following two decades of service to UC San Diego, Professor Larry Smarr has announced his retirement, effective June 30, 2020.

In 2000, Smarr joined the Computer Science and Engineering faculty at Jacobs School of Engineering. Later that year, he was appointed the founding director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), an interdisciplinary research and education institute with two divisions — the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego and Calit2@UC Irvine. He will step down as director of Calit2 on July 1, 2020. A search committee will be announced later this fall to select his successor. Professor Ramesh Rao has been appointed as the interim director of Calit2.

Smarr worked closely with the Calit2 division directors, as well as countless collaborators, to develop a wide range of Calit2 multidisciplinary research efforts in health, energy, environment, and culture, all driven by exponential advances in information technologies, telecommunications, nanotechnology and biomedical technologies.

With 20 years of National Science Foundation funding, Smarr and his colleagues at Calit2 and the San Diego Supercomputer Center demonstrated how to use optical fiber networks to create distributed computer, storage and visualization systems to empower data-intensive research, first at UC San Diego and UC Irvine, and then expanding to connect campuses across California and outward to campuses around the world.

Over the last decade, Smarr has become a pioneer in the quantified-self movement, including personalized surgery. He has developed a unique, multi-year time series of over 100 biomarkers and gut microbiome genomics, using his own body as a laboratory, which is now being analyzed by many UC San Diego faculty, staff and students. He is also currently a lead investigator on research supported by the Helmsley Charitable Trust on a 3D Medical Imaging Pilot to Improve Surgical Outcomes for Patients with Crohn's Disease.

Prior to joining UC San Diego, Smarr was a professor of Physics and of Astronomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) for 20 years where he conducted observational, theoretical and computational-based research in relativistic astrophysics. During that time, he served as the founding director of the UIUC National Center for Supercomputing Applications and later the National Computational Science Alliance, headquartered on the UIUC campus.

Smarr served three NIH Directors as a member of the NIH Advisory Committee and four NASA Administrators as the chair of the NASA Information Technology Infrastructure Committee. He was also a member of the NSF Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure and served on Governor Schwarzenegger's California Broadband Task Force in 2007. He currently serves on the Advisory Board to the Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Professor Larry Smarr has been an extraordinary friend, colleague, and mentor to many within the University of California community. He propelled UC San Diego to new heights through his commitment to collaborative research, pioneering vision, respected leadership, and dedication to public service. He will be deeply missed.

Please join me in expressing my sincere gratitude to Professor Smarr for his lasting contributions to our university and in wishing him happiness in his retirement.

Professor Ramesh Rao will serve as interim director of Calit2 in addition to his current position as the director of the Qualcomm Institute. With funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, he has collaborated with researchers from UC Irvine to apply telecommunications and information technologies in support of disaster response at locations devastated by man-made or natural disasters. He chaired a National Academy study on Improving Disaster Management for the National Academy.

As the director of the Center for Wireless Communications, Rao enhanced UC San Diego’s relationships with all of the major wireless companies including Qualcomm and Ericsson. In recent years he helped establish the Qualcomm Institute Innovation Space that provides space and access to advanced labs and services for more than 35 California startups. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a senior fellow of the California Council for Science and Technology.

Pradeep K. Khosla