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Empowering biodiversity researchers towards innovative collaborative science: press release

September 2012

Advancing Biodiversity e-science innovation through global cooperation,
19-20 September 2012, Recife, Brazil

A workshop jointly hosted by EUBrazilOpenBio and and the Brazilian Virtual Herbarium of Plants and Fungi

With species from online records being served by SpeciesLink and Brazil’s Virtual Herbarium representing 91.4% of all Brazilian Angiosperm species, collaborative research opens up considerable opportunities for the international biodiversity research community. Science is becoming increasingly data driven and multidisciplinary, turning researchers from many fields of inquiry into data scientists. On their part, biodiversity researchers need complex mathematical models to analyse large data sets from different sources and easier access to that data. However, they typically lack advanced IT skills. One of the promises of the cloud is ease of use and flexibility. Access to large data and new services like the cloud will enable researchers from many domains to make discoveries they could not make before. Together, the data deluge, cloud computing and open access are creating a revolution in scientific research.
The EUBrazilOpenBio project adds to this equation international cooperation tackling challenges surrounding biodiversity. EUBrazilOpenBio is deploying a specialised large data infrastructure that integrates advanced tools and services powered by grid and cloud computing. What’s more, the project fosters open access, not only to data but also to tools and services developed in Europe and Brazil. Its focus is on fully supporting the needs of the biodiversity community and paving the way for new data-intensive interdisciplinary approaches to scientific research.

About the workshop
The Workshop jointly hosted with the Brazilian Virtual Herbarium of Plants and Fungi, 19-20 September 2012 in Recife, Brazil, showcases successful EU-Brazil cooperation and the benefits of sharing both the data infrastructure and data resources. Botanists, biodiversity researchers, data and e-infrastructure experts, policy and decision-makers will come together to evaluate user community needs, explore future cooperation opportunities and assess the socio-economic and policy implications for Europe and Brazil. The EUBrazilOpenBio Advisory Board members will attend the event offering insights into the critical role of specialised large-scale collaborative infrastructures in enabling scientific breakthrough in the next decade. Nelson Simões, General Director of the Social Organisation within the Brazilian National Education and Research Network (RNP-OS) will be offering insights into advanced infrastructures for collaboration and communication. Malcolm Atkinson, UK National e-Science Centre, will be sharing key knowledge on advances in data-intensive interdisciplinary research, while Fabrizio Gagliardi, EMEA Director at Microsoft Research Connections, will be zooming in on the legacy of the European VENUS-C project, which has adopted a user-centric approach to cloud computing underpinned by an infrastructure.

The workshop offers a compelling example of novel approaches to global biodiversity challenges. Taxonomic information is essential for reliable environmental science, for monitoring changes in biodiversity and for tackling environmental change more effectively. But accessing and using taxonomic information is far from straightforward. “One major problem is how to integrate regional taxonomies that have been created locally for regional floras and faunas with global taxonomies linked to global monographs and global species databases” explains Alex Hardisty, Director of Informatics Projects, Cardiff School of Computer Science and Informatics, Cardiff University. One of the goals of EUBrazilOpenBio is to use the ‘taxonomic intelligence’ of the cross-mapping tools of the Catalogue of Life (CoL: the authoritative index of all living organisms published by Species2000 and ITIS ) to facilitate taxonomic specialists in a pilot study that cross-maps and analyses the regional plant catalogue of Brazil with the global index of plants within the CoL. The workshop features two demos: EUBrazilOpenBio tools for ecological niche modelling and cross-mapping of taxonomies and the tools and services to assess data quality and gap analysis provided by the Brazilian Virtual Herbarium. The demos complement a set of presentations on biodiversity data challenges, information system integration, workflows and services.

The workshop also looks at emerging technology enablers in this new era of science like remote sensing and environmental monitoring and new computing infrastructures deployed by the Brazilian National Education and Research Network (RNP). It shines the spotlight on science policy as well as European and Brazilian collaborative projects focused on new approaches to the complexity of biodiversity at different organisational, spatial and temporal scales. The Workshop takes an in-depth at data challenges like data discovery, data filtering, integration, analysis, modelling, scenario development and decision support. Specialised data infrastructures supporting an ecosystem approach to fisheries management and marine conservation are also highlighted.
The fundamental role played by policy makers is reflected in the keynotes from the Brazilian Ministry of Science and the European Commission as part of the drive to build stronger ties between the two regions. Drawing also on interactive roundtables, the outcomes of the workshop will feed into the in-depth impact assessessment and Joint Action Plan driven by EUBrazilOpenBio to foster scientific excellence while helping to address societal challenges.

Source: EUBrazilOpenBio

Workshop on Advancing biodiversity e-science innovation through global cooperation, hosted by EUBrazilOpenBio and INCT, 19-20 September 2012, Park Hotel, Rua dos Navegantes, 9, Recife, Brazil

About EUBrazilOpenBio
EUBrazilOpenBio project - Open Data and Cloud Computing e-Infrastructure for Biodiversity across Europe and Brazil, is a collaborative research project co-funded by the European Commission and the Brazilian Minister of Science Technology and Innovation (MCTI - CNPq). Its objective is to deploy an e-Infrastructure of Open Access resources serving the needs of the biodiversity scientific community. This will be achieved by integrating and interoperating EU and Brazilian data, cloud, and grid infrastructures and resources across biodiversity & taxonomy, fostering cooperation between the two ICT and biodiversity scientific communities.

About the Brazilian Virtual Herbarium of Plants and Fungi
The mission of the INCT Virtual Herbarium of Plants and Fungi is to provide a high quality, open botanical collections data infrastructure accessible to the public. This will integrate the data held in Brazil’s herbaria and will repatriate data held in foreign herbaria. The principal activities of the Institute focus on two basic lines of research: Biological diversity and taxonomy of plants and fungi, and the use of data on species distributions for the formulation of public policy on plant and fungal diversity.

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