The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of the University of Wyoming
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Laramie, WY 82071-2000
When Timothy Kuhfuss was recruited to UW in the summer of 2011 as Information Technology’s new director of research support, he had no idea he’d be facing not just a new job but ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS causes progressive degeneration of the motor neurons, and there is currently no cure.
“Ironically, I thought I was having trouble with the altitude—low energy, couldn’t really run,” Kuhfuss says. “Then after a lot of painful diagnostics and tests, they figured out what it is.
“My birthday was mid-summer (2013), and my goal was to not need a wheelchair until my birthday,” he says. “A week after I got one.
“The biggest adjustment so far is just getting around—transportation. And it affects the voice right now,” Kuhfuss explains.
“It doesn’t affect the brain. People with ALS can work fairly actively for a while, and I am.”
Work actively he has, building UW’s research support unit from scratch and overseeing the university’s first high-performance computer.
“It is available to all faculty, students and collaborators,” he says. “We’re close to 150 users on it and 30 different projects.”
Kuhfuss isn’t done yet. His next goal is to get the word out to researchers and help train them. “Because of the training and the outreach, we’re starting to get people who used to use desktops to say, ‘I can do this.’ ”
Computer simulations can go from two weeks down to two minutes when researchers switch to the high-performance computer. “That changes the way they do their business,” he explains.
On the personal front, Kuhfuss hopes to increase awareness and thus research of ALS.
“My nieces and nephews all do fundraisers now,” he says. “They had no idea it existed before. … I want people to know about it.”
Kuhfuss has no regrets about his move from Chicago to Laramie. “The university has lived up to the hopes and expectations I had when I came here. The people are fantastic to work with. My staff and the users are naturally curious, which makes it exciting to wake up every day.”
IMPACT: Creating UW’s impressive research support unit and increasing awareness about the terminal disease, ALS.