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The Ecosystem for Research Networking (ERN, formerly the Eastern Regional Network) was formed to simplify multi-campus collaborations and partnerships in the Northeast, in order to advance the frontiers of research, pedagogy, and innovation. The ERN is first and foremost a network of people interested in pursuing this goal, and who use and manage the campus and regional research computing, data, storage and network resources that can make it happen.

Vision & Mission
The vision of the ERN is to simplify, support, catalyze, and foster multi-campus collaborations and partnerships between academic institutions of all types and sizes across the U.S. that advance the frontiers of research, pedagogy, and innovation. The mission of the ERN is to achieve this vision through a consortium of academic institutions, research facilities, core service providers, network providers, and industry partners, both public and private, organized around a shared interest in supporting and enabling collaborative data and computation enabled science/ This is accomplished by providing standards, blueprints, policies, and training associated with the design and implementation of an infrastructure to access data and research instruments, a distributed federated environment designed to simplify, support, catalyze, and foster collaborative science, scholarship, and education. To realize our mission and vision, the ERN will enable collaborations for democratization of access to research instruments, technical expertise, infrastructure, services, and resources to lower barriers to participation for scientists engaged  in collaborative research across institutional and disciplinary boundaries.

ERN Evolution
The ERN was formed in 2017 to address the challenges researchers face when participating in multi-campus team science projects, associated with shared access to research computing and data located within the national cyberinfrastructure ecosystem. The ERN began as a regional effort for two principal reasons: (1) a desire for face-to-face interactions and physical proximity to and access to shared instruments, and (2) a desire to serve the unique characteristics of our region—for example, the Northeast contains eight different state university systems in a geographic area whose size is comparable to that of the state of California, with nine different regional network providers, and close to two-thousand colleges and universities of all types and sizes, many of which are under-resourced or under-represented. As the ERN has grown, we came to realize that by addressing the challenges which we felt were  unique to the region, expanding our scope beyond the Northeast would not entail significant new logistical challenges and may, in fact, be more effectively pursued at the national level.

More recently, the ERN expanded its scope after interactions with several research communities led to the realization that the ERN needed to treat physical scientific instruments such as telescopes, research vessels, genome sequencers, and scanning electron microscopes similarly to research computing, storage, and networking in cyberinfrastructure planning. There is a need to access, move, store, and process the massive amounts of data generated by scientific instruments, and to access instruments remotely through federated services available to both researchers and their collaborators. Through interactions with the scientific and cyberinfrastructure communities, the ERN learned that these capabilities are often an afterthought when installing and commissioning new instruments, which can limit the value of major investments and lead to complications when sharing access the instruments and data there from. The ERN is now working on developing a federated solution to enable academic institutions to offer core services to the broader U.S. scientific community.

The ERN core activities: 

  • Organizing and/or supporting working groups focused on areas of interest to the community.
  • Facilitating Workshops for deep dive explorations of cross-working group areas of interest.
  • Hosting yearly All Hands Meetings to bring the community together to give updates and discuss future initiatives.
  • Offering recommendations on data standards, architectural blueprints, and policies.
  • Enabling delivery of training on topics related to new and emerging technologies and applications relevant to current areas of interest to ERN stakeholders.

Results of workshops, including findings and recommendations are shared with the broader community through publications and regional and national conference presentations. For example, three ERN papers were presented at the PEARC22 Annual Conference and the “ERN Cryo-EM Federated Instrument Pilot Project” paper received Best Short Paper. In addition to workshops, the ERN, along with its partners, offers a Data Science Seminar Series hands-on training of various software applications focusing on the support of Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence workflow methodology.  The workshops are open to anyone in the research community with emphasis on the  MSIs, HSIs, HBUCs, and EPSCoR institutions. Compute resources necessary for the on-hand efforts are made available to all participants and moderating support personnel address questions or issues. 

The ERN welcomes new members. For those interested in future participation in the Ecosystem for Research Networking (ERN), understanding who the stakeholders are, and membership requirements, please visit the ERN website


PEARC 2022 Short Papers 

  • “The ERN Cryo-EM Federated Instrument Pilot Project” – Best Short Paper
  • “Federating CI Policy in Support of Multi-Institutional Research: Lessons from the Ecosystem for Research Networking” 
  • “Broadening the Reach for Access to Advanced Computing: Leveraging the Cloud for Research”

PEARC 2022 Co-location Event,
“ERN – The Evolution”

Data Science Workshop Series


Structural Biology Working Group Workshop “Enabling PROTEIN STRUCTURE PREDICTION with Artificial Intelligence at Rutgers and Beyond,” (Virtual)

Broadening the Reach Working Group (BTR) workshop “Leveraging the Cloud for Research”, (Virtual)

PEARC 2021 Short Papers (Virtual)

  • “Identifying Research Collaboration Challenges for the Development of a Federated Infrastructure Response”
  • “Broadening the Reach for Access to Advanced Cyberinfrastructure – Accelerating Research and Education”

Structural Biology “The Voice of the Customer” Workshop, (Virtual)


ERN Federated Open Cyberinfrastructure Collaboratory (OpenCI Labs) Design

NSF CC* CRIA: The Eastern Regional Network funded

Working groups formed

  • Broadening the Reach
  • Computer Science
  • Federation and Architecture
  • Materials Discovery
  • Policy
  • Structural Biology


Introductory Meeting about ERN with NSF

PEARC 2019

First ERN All-Hands


Proof of Concept for Federated Computing

Coalition of the Willing: Gathering at Rutgers Newark 


Germ of an idea:
2017 National Research Platform (NRP) meeting


  • Adhering to principles that simplify access to both instruments and data through a federated platform in support of team science is a game changer for the research community.
  • Accessing, sharing, curating, and archiving data is a priority for research and education.
  • Supporting under-resourced and under-represented colleges and universities by democratizing research instruments and data is as important as serving R1 institutions.
  • Our effort is best spent on the development of applications, workflows, and orchestration tools that enable innovative science, not to reinvent the wheel.
  • Translational computer science is necessary for next generation infrastructure and services and the success of the ERN into the future.


  • Leadership – Embrace challenges and lead change. 
  • Diversity and Inclusion – Encourage diversity of ideas and styles. Engage people with different strengths, interests, and backgrounds. 
  • Community and Teamwork – Recognize the importance of working together and believe in the immense value from grassroot initiatives.
  • Innovation – Drive innovation spurred by collaboration and partnerships that enhance capacity and capability for the future.
  • Advocacy – Provide thought leadership that is valuable to funding agencies and policy makers.
  • Integrity – Act in a responsible, honest, open, ethical, and equitable manner. Be considerate and thoughtful when implementing new ideas.
  • Reciprocity – Listen and evolve together, helping and supporting each other to accomplish collective goals.


18 Events
11 Workshops
5 Papers
18 States

Participating types of organizations in events:

  • 62% Academic (47% R1s and 53% non-R1s includes MSIs)
  • 9% Federal Agencies
  • 8% RENS/non-profit
  • 17% industry
  • 4% international

Over 1000 Participants in ERN sponsored workshops, seminars, and training


  • Align U.S. university and regional network providers with 21st century research needs through federated public and private cloud services to support data workflows, distributed AI, instrument sharing, and data curation through federation, tiered storage, virtualization, and common data models.
  • Broaden the reach of ERN by supporting academic institutions of all types and sizes that attract and educate a more diverse workforce to design, build, and staff advanced research computing, core research services, advanced networking, and data services to create value through new business models, collaborative projects, and transformative/translational research.
  • Treat physical scientific instruments, such as telescopes, research vessels, genome sequencers, and scanning electron microscopes, as part of an ecosystem along with advanced computing, storage, and networking.
  • Build and support research infrastructure that simplifies access to both research instruments and data through a federated platform available to the research and education community. This work includes defining data standards, APIs, architectures, and policies. 
  • Augment and extend the reach and impact of existing national programs aimed at universities, industries and/or national laboratories.