College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Iowa State part of U.S. National Science Foundation newly established artificial intelligence research institute on cyberinfrastructure

Hongwei Zhang portrait
Photo of Hongwei Zhang standing and smiling
ISU Professor Hongwei Zhang is leading the edge wireless component of the ICICLE project. (Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University)

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the establishment of 11 new NSF National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes – including one led by Iowa State University – building on the first round of seven institutes funded in 2020. The combined investment of $360 million ($220 million in 2021 and $140 million in 2020) expands the reach of those institutes to include a total of 40 states and the District of Columbia.

One of the 11 institutes, called the AI Institute for Intelligent Cyberinfrastructure with Computational Learning in the Environment (ICICLE), is led by The Ohio State University, with Iowa State Professor Hongwei Zhang of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering leading the edge wireless component of that project.

ICICLE will build the next generation of cyberinfrastructure that will make AI easy for scientists to use and promote its further democratization. It will transform the AI landscape of today by bringing in scientists from multidisciplinary backgrounds to create a robust, trustworthy and transparent national cyberinfrastructure that is ready to “plug-and-play” in areas of societal importance, such as “smart foodsheds,” precision agriculture and animal ecology. The institute will develop a new generation of the workforce, with sustained diversity and inclusion at all levels. This institute is fully funded by NSF.

Dhabaleswar K. Panda, professor of computer science and engineering at Ohio State, is the principal investigator for ICICLE, leading a core team of 46 academic researchers and staff scientists from 13 organizations, including Zhang from ISU. The institute will build the next generation of cyberinfrastructure with a goal of making AI data and infrastructure more accessible to the larger society.

The Ohio State ICICLE team will work in collaboration with the Ohio Supercomputer Center, Case Western Reserve University, Iowa State University, Indiana University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Texas-Austin/Texas Advanced Computing Center, University of Utah, University of Delaware, University of California, San Diego/San Diego Supercomputer Center, University of California, Davis, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and IC-FOODS.

More information about ICICLE can be found at

Learn more about the NSF AI Institutes by visiting