Thursday, April 10, 2008

iPlant kickoff - links between geo and bio

On Monday, I had the pleasure of being a kick-off speaker at the inaugural conference of the iPlant Collaborative being held at Cold Spring Harbor Lab (CSHL) in New York (right).

iPlant is an NSF-funded, $50 million, 5-year research initiative based at University of Arizona to build the cyberinfrastructure to answer plant biology's grand challenge questions. The project unites plant scientists, computer and information scientists, with social scientists in an attempt to change the way we do science.

So, what did a geologist in a state survey have to say to 200 of the leading biologists in the world?

Well, AZGS is taking the lead among the 51 state geological surveys in partnership with the USGS to build a national digital Geoscience Information Network (GIN). We have agreement to create a distributed interoperable data network using open source protocols and standards. Our breakthrough has been in getting broad organizational and conceptual design agreements after 7 years of vigorous debate in the geosciences (generally referred to as our "herding cats" period).

Many of the cultural and social challenges facing iPlant are similar to those in the geosciences and other scientific disciplines. We have a lot to learn from each other. In addition, all four divisions of the USGS are participating in GIN, including Biological Resources. These creates natural linkages between GIN and iPlant that should be enhanced with both initiatives headquartered in Tucson.

Fran Berman, director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UCSD, led off the keynote session at CSHL on Monday night, laying out a dazzling vision for scientific cyberinfrastructure. She was featured in a story in the New York Times on Wednesday about that.

I'll be posting more about the GIN effort here, but we are posting various workshop reports and other materials at the geoinformatics portal that AZGS is developing for the community - www.geoinformatics.info.




1 comment:

  1. Dr. Allison -- I realize this is a fairly old post to your blog, but it's the first mention I found for the Geoscience Information Network (GIN). Can you provide some commentary on the relationship (if any) between GIN and the National Geoscience Data Repository System (NGDRS). It seems like there must have been some sort of connection between the two, and I'm curious to know what that was. Thanks very much for any information you can provide.

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