Partnerships for Cyberinfrastructure: Collaboratively Building Capacity

October 15, 2014

Associate Director of Synthesis

Last week, IT staff members from five of the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s BIO centers held our second annual meeting to discuss common challenges and solutions across our programs. SESYNC’s Associate Director of Cyberinfrastructure, Mike Smorul, leads the effort under a supplemental grant from NSF to facilitate collaboration on cyberinfrastructure-related issues across the BIO centers and center-like programs. This year we met in East Lansing, Michigan at BEACON to discuss new developments (technological and otherwise) at our centers and to continue work on projects started during last year’s meeting hosted at SESYNC in Annapolis, Maryland.

The biggest outcome of our collaboration thus far has been the development of a two-day “Data Carpentry” technical training workshop based on the Software Carpentry model. During the past year, Tracy Teal, a microbial ecologist and bioinformatician at BEACON, has led an effort to develop a common curriculum for teaching members of the NSF BIO research community when and how to transition out of Excel into new tools for data storage and analysis that are more robust, effective, sustainable, and reproducible. To date, four Data Carpentry workshops have been held, one each at NESCent, SESYNC, iDigBio, and BEACON. Over the next year, we’ll focus on training additional workshop instructors within the BIO center community and on developing more domain-specific lessons. For example, iPlant, BEACON, and NESCent expressed interest in modules that use a genomics-based data set to teach the core tools of SQL, shell, and R.

Another highlight of this year’s meeting were useful insights from Karen Cranston, a computational phylogeneticist at NESCent, on planning for sustainability and longevity of the myriad valuable products developed over a center’s lifetime. Unfortunately, NESCent is scheduled to close next summer, but thanks to the foresight and efforts of Karen and her colleagues, many of the datasets and tools developed during its existence will continue facilitating synthesis and discovery from other platforms and venues.

SESYNC Accepting Applications for Workshop & Short Course

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) is now accepting applications for our "Bayesian Modeling for Ecological & Social Scientists" workshop and "Teaching Socio-Environmental Synthesis with Case Studies" short course. Applications for each opportunity must be received by October 31, 2014, at 5 p.m. Eastern Time (ET).

Deadline Extended: Data-Intensive Analysis and/or Modeling

Deadline extended to August 22, 2014.

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) invites proposals for data-intensive analysis and/or modeling projects that advance socio-environmental synthesis research. This funding opportunity covers two types of projects:

Seminar: Neil Carter & Lorien Jasny

Navigating the Complexity of Human-Carnivore Coexistence with Agent-Based Models

Neil Carter’s research integrates ecological and human dimensions for conservation purposes. He conducted his master’s research at the University of Michigan, evaluating the drivers and spatial location of potential conflict “hot-spots” between black bears and people in Michigan.

Seminar: The Values of Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Current understanding of traditional ecological knowledge depicts those bodies of knowledge as threatened and eroding, but—at the same time—as dynamic and adaptive. In this seminar, Dr. Victoria Reyes-García will analyze those apparent contradictions and explore the issue of the value of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) systems as the main cause of its endurance. To do so, she will first provide a brief review of the change of status of traditional ecological knowledge both in academia and international policy.

SESYNC, USDA Partner to Catalyze Data-Driven Research on Food Systems Resilience to Climate Change

Annapolis, Md — In partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) announces the “Data to Motivate Synthesis” Program for early career scientists and researchers at the agriculture, environment, and social nexus to identify and understand the factors that influence food systems resilience to climate change.

Now You See It

June 24, 2014

Many researchers in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) are harnessing the power of “big data”—a popular term used to describe the massive amount of information that is acquired, stored, searched, shared, analyzed and visualized—in the quest for answers to some of the world’s most complex problems. Using the latest computational tools to extract the most important pieces of information from these huge data sets and applying sophisticated analytic techniques, researchers are discovering patterns and making unexpected connections in virtually every scientific discipline.

Director of Cyberinfrastructure Joseph JaJa, Postdoctoral Fellow Mary Collins, and SESYNC Scientific Programmer Ian Muñoz are featured in the June 2014 issue of Odyssey Magazine, published by CMNS at the University of Maryland.

Click here to read the story.

Associated SESYNC Researcher(s): 

Detecting Signatures of Socio-Ecological Innovation in Urbanizing Regions

The goal of this workshop is to assemble a team of interdisciplinary scholars and researchers to articulate a research design and develop a research proposal to explore the interactions between social and ecological networks in urbanizing regions. We aim to analyze and quantify the relationships between biophysical, social, and technological characteristics of urban systems and their socio-ecological innovation.

Drought Adaptations in Kenya

Severe problems of drought represent some of the most pressing humanitarian, environmental, and political challenges of our time. The objective of this project is to develop a system model that can be used to provide policy makers with reliable information and analyses so that they can make well-informed decisions on resilient water-related infrastructures in developing regions.


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