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Stewart Receives National Science Foundation CAREER Award

Christopher Stewart, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations The five-year award provides $500,000 in funding for Stewart’s research project, called “Carbon Footprint Modeling and Elastic Caching for Greening Services.”

Stewart studies the responsiveness, cost effectiveness and carbon footprint for next-generation cloud computing systems. Most systems today excel in only one of these dimensions, often at the expense of the others, risking the long term economic and environmental sustainability of cloud computing. His research employs performance modelling and autonomic computing to prototype high-performance cloud systems that are sustainable and scalable.

Stewart’s current project addresses a common issue facing cloud systems: dirty, carbon-intensive energy is cost effective, but not environmentally sustainable. Greening as a service exposes this issue to end users, allowing them to route requests through sustainable datapaths. The challenges are to track datapaths across multiple geographically distributed datacenters, move them to clean energy (e.g., via carbon offsets), and keep response times and costs relatively low. Stewart created datagreening.com, a prototype greening service that powers email with clean energy. Through this service, he hopes to gather data on the carbon footprint of popular email providers while helping hundreds of users utilize more sustainable computing services. The research will also help system managers identify performance bugs, especially costly ones that shift energy consumption toward datacenters with high energy costs.

Stewart is the editor of IEEE Sustainable Computing Register. He received his PhD from the University of Rochester in 2008 under the supervision of Kai Shen, associate professor of computer science. Before that, he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA.