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Bridging Science and Data Domains

Scientists and data experts met at the University of Arizona's Biosphere 2. (Image: Dan Wilson)

By Shelley Littin, CyVerse

A workshop and hackathon hosted by CyVerse last weekend brought together domain scientists and identifier experts from many backgrounds to pose questions related to future possibilities and exploring more collaborative approaches to science.

The participants in Practical Hacking on Identifiers at Biosphere 2 (PHOIBOS2) included U.S. and international researchers. They met at the at the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 and worked together to identify synergies in the field of identifier services and technologies. “Identifier technologies” describes any technology that supports the creation, use, or discovery of digital identifiers.

"This workshop was about bringing together people who otherwise almost never interact,” said Ramona Walls, CyVerse senior scientific analyst who was the Principal Investigator for the workshop and hackathon. “Having domain scientists from multiple disciplines, such as biology, engineering, and geology, let us find common gaps and challenges in identifying data, as well as the issues that are unique to each field.”

The participants worked in five breakout groups, each producing a detailed solution document defining a problem and solution. The solution definition included plans for a business model, operations, finances, governance, management and staffing, resources, integration, and sustainability. The groups also produced concrete products including a set of metadata properties to aid in persistence of data resources and a draft outline for a publication on identifier use cases in the data life cycle.

“Bringing together the scientists who create datasets with the developers who create systems to identify, store, and serve those datasets helped the developers better understand scientists' needs and the scientists better understand how to take advantage of identifier technologies,” Walls said. “The synergies that resulted from this workshop can advance scientific discovery by producing concrete products to aid in data preservation and discovery and reuse."

The event was funded by the National Science Foundation and co-organized by Ramona Walls, Maria Esteva from the Texas Advanced Computing Center, and John Deck from the University of California at Berkeley.