Smarr, Larry | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Smarr, Larry

Historical Note:

Larry Lee Smarr (b. 1948) was professor of astronomy (1979-2000), professor of physics (1980-2000), and founding director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) (1985-2000) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He is a widely respected physicist who has made research contributions in the areas of general relativity, computational and observational astronomy, supercomputer applications, and scientific computing. As an administrator, he is known for overseeing and advocating for scientific collaborations including work on Web browsers and personalized medicine.

Smarr was born in Missouri in 1948 and earned a bachelor's degree and master's degree from the University of Missouri in 1970. He went on to earn a master's degree from Stanford University in 1972 and a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975. Smarr held research positions at Princeton, Yale, and Harvard before becoming a professor at UIUC in 1979. Over the course of his tenure at UIUC, his observational, theoretical, and computational research focused on relativistic astrophysics. As founding director of NCSA, he "helped drive major developments in the planetary information infrastructure: the Internet, the Web, scientific visualization, virtual reality, and global telepresence" (Center for Digital Transformation, UCI). Smarr's achievements have brought him widespread recognition, and he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering as well as fellow at the American Physical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His awards include the Franklin Institute's Delmer S. Fahrney Medal for Leadership in Science or Technology (1990), the IEEE Computer Society Tsutomu Kanai Award (2006), and the Golden Goose Award (2014).

Smarr is currently the Harry E. Gruber Professor of Computer Science and Information Technologies at the Jacobs School, University of California, San Diego, as well as founding Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). His current research interests include the computer science of large-scale optical networks and data science analysis of the human microbiome.


"About Larry Smarr," Calit2, accessed April 27, 2020,

Wikipedia, s.v. "Larry Smarr," accessed April 27, 2020,

"Larry Smarr," Center for Digital Transformation (University of California, Irvine), accessed April 27, 2020,

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