Amber Fulkerson grew up in Kaimuki on the island of O‘ahu and graduated from Sacred Hearts Academy in 2009. She will be a junior this fall at Oregon State University, studying to become a Civil Engineer.

Amber enjoys hiking, going to the beach, and hanging out with family and friends.

Institution when accepted: Oregon State University.

Akamai Project:  Moving Gemini Observatory Toward Sustainability: Greening an Astronomical Data Center

Project Site: Gemini Observatory

Mentors: Tim Minick

Project Abstract:

The Gemini Observatory spends over one million dollars per year in electricity charges to operate their Hawai‘i facilities. A major component of this high bill is the continuous operation of their data centers. Each data center is a room full of computer equipment including servers, storage systems, backup power supplies, environmental controls, and security devices. Since Gemini employees need around-the-clock access to the data archives and online services, this equipment is never turned off, and therefore the cooling system to prevent overheating is also never turned off. We have begun a feasibility study of techniques that would reduce Gemini’s operational support costs for its data centers. Any final recommendations must provide a return-of-investment within two years, require less than one day of data center downtime during installation, and allow for future expansion of the data center. Various techniques being assessed include using renewable energy, upgrading to more efficient servers, improving the cooling system’s efficiency, converting to more efficient lights, and implementing distributive power management software. We have completed our study of the cooling systems, and we recommend the installation of vinyl curtains as the best way to isolate different temperature zones in the rooms and reduce energy use. Using more efficient lights in their two Hawai‘i facilities can save Gemini nearly $200 in electricity charges every year. We anticipate additional energy savings in the other areas mentioned above, and a full feasibility report will be provided to Gemini at the end of our study. Future research is needed to investigate the transferability of our recommendations to Gemini’s other facilities located in Chile.