TL;DR: Biophysicists currently use multiple devices in a disjoint way to do their research work; Cybershuttle is a platform allowing them to streamlining their research by linking multiple devices.


Powered by grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Cybershuttle is a joint project between Cyberinfrastructure Building-Indiana University and biophysicists at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).


3 months

Team members

2 UX Designers, 3 Developers, Project Lead

The Problem

Biophysicists find it challenging to switch between their computer and remote supercomputers to complete their research work.

The Solution

Cybershuttle. A platform that integrates their computer and supercomputers, and helps them manage their team and monitor their research work.

My Contribution

As a generalist UX Designer, I was part of the entire Design Process, and regularly coordinated with biophysicists and developers in the project.

Studying the workflow

Right from research work all the way to getting simulation results, biophysicists face a lot of hurdles. These hurdles arise due to a disjointed workflow and distributed roles.

To understand the touchpoints where biophysicists were facing challenges, we studied their current workflow of conducting research work.

Key Findings

Biophysicists need to constantly shuffle between their computer and remote supercomputer to complete their research work. This process is cumbersome and poses as a difficult transition.

Research Insights

While a disjointed workflow was the main reason for inefficiency in research, biophysicists also faced difficulties with management tasks like leading teams and tracking projects.

We interviewed biophysicists from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign to know more about the problems they face in their day to day work.

Managing multiple projects

Biophysicists need a consolidated interface to view, manage and check the status of their projects.

Team Management

Coordination and Supervision is important because team members are working for different parts of the workflow.

Inefficient utilization of resources

Biophysicists are also concerned about the inefficient utilization of supercomputers.

Opportunity Space

Understanding their workflow and gaining insights from the biophysicists helped us in defining our opportunity space.

How might we help biophysicists do all their research work and manage their team using just one device?

Introducing Cybershuttle

Cybershuttle is a platform that allows scientists like biophysicists to send and receive data and files from their computer to High Processing Computers (HPC) which may be located in their vicinity or far from their location.

Let's see how Cybershuttle is improving the workflow of biophysicists.

We compared the workflow of biophysicists by analyzing the current workflow and the changes in workflow after the implementation of Cybershuttle. Here is a detailed comparison between the two.

Key Findings

With Cybershuttle, the biophysicist can now send and receive data from their computer to the supercomputer, without having to switch between the two devices.

High-Fidelity Screens

How does Cybershuttle work?

Setting up the Simulation

The biophysicist starts off by setting up the structure that they want to conduct their experiment on. The simulation setup page helps them virtually choose the materials that they require for their simulations.

The biophysicist then moves on to the next step which helps them configure the simulation settings.

Output files in the form of configuration files are then generated based on the biophysicist’s inputs about the structure preparation and simulation settings.

Establishing connection to the supercomputer

This is the stage where the cybershuttle makes the integration between a biophysicist's computer and a remote supercomputer seamless. It starts with the biophysicist creating an HPC account.

The biophysicist then enters the credentials of their HPC Account.

The biophysicist then selects the project on which they want to run simulations.

Sending files to the supercomputer

Once the connection is established with the remote supercomputer, the biophysicist can now choose an HPC out of the ones available, and send files to the supercomputer to carry out the simulations.



Grasping and understanding scientific domain knowledge was a bit challenging at first, and there were a lot of grey areas in this process.


The requirements of this project detailed a vast amount of information to be shown in the user interface, which made it important to craft a seamless user experience.


Creating an easy to use navigation system by designing a site map was effective in establishing the flow of the Cybershuttle platform.

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