Linking Environmental Data and Samples

↪ Aims and scope
↪ Programme
↪ Logistics and accommodation
↪ Programme committee
↪ Organising committee

29 May - 2 June 2017, Canberra, Australia

An international symposium to be hosted by CSIRO.

Aims and scope

Environmental and earth science data is collected by a large number of organizations, in both public and private sectors, with a heavy focus on observations and spatial data. There is an abundance of data standards, and weak governance around controlled vocabularies, so data reuse often involves educated guesses about its structure, and the meaning of embedded abbreviations and codes. Links to physical samples, and to features in the real world from where these were taken, are often ambiguous. This fragmentation imposes significant costs on projects, with as much as 80% of project effort spent on identifying and cleaning existing data. Challenges are technical, social, and institutional.

A growing community of earth and environmental scientists, working on the interface with computational science, are developing detailed practices and standards around identifiers, vocabularies, and software interfaces, which are necessary for wider community application. Currently, these efforts are fragmented, as is the communication of technical solutions and organisational best practices.

Linking Environmental Data and Samples will bring together leading researchers in earth and environmental informatics, to establish the current state of the art in environmental science data publication and its use of modern web principles. The focus is on linking data, with a particular interest in the integration of physical samples with datasets based on these, with a goal of triggering the adoption of uniform practices across Australia and internationally.

Communities within the earth and environmental sciences that have been particularly active in these areas include:

Some of these have a particular reliance in physical samples, including geological sciences and biodiversity. The symposium will explore opportunities for alignment of identifier and registration systems from these disciplines, as well as more general research data systems like DataCite.

The design of the symposium will build on the experience of the highly successful Earth Science Information Partnership (ESIP) series that has been running for more than two decades in North America.

The symposium will include a field trip on Monday 29th May to a number of national sample collections around Canberra. Following this, an opening reception will be held at the National Museum of Australia on Hospital Point.

Programme outline

Field trip to sample collections
  • Geoscience Australia
  • National Herbarium
  • CSIRO Black Mountain
  • Welcome from Dave Williams - CSIRO Executive Director for Digital, National Facilities and Collections
Opening Keynotes
  • Donald Hobern - Global Biodiversity Information Facility
  • Peter Fox - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Science Drivers
  • Kerstin Lehnert - Columbia University
  • Rob Guralnick - Florida Museum of Natural History
  • Dave Blodgett - US Geological Survey
  • Jess Robertson - CSIRO
  • Krzysztof Janowicz - UC Santa Barbara
Open Science and Applications
  • Markus Stocker - Pangaea
  • Ingo Simonis - Open Geospatial Consortium
  • Andre Zerger - Bureau of Meteorology
Technical Factors
  • Doug Fils - Ocean Leadership
  • Bob Arko - UNOLS/R2R, Columbia University
  • Adam Shepherd - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Jonathan Yu - CSIRO
  • Pablo Rozas Larraondo - ANU
  • Lesley Wyborn - National Computational Infrastructure, ANU
  • Wim Hugo - SAEON
  • Lee Belbin - Taxonomic Databases Working Group
  • John Wieczorek - Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, UC Berkeley
  • Alistair Ritchie - Landcare New Zealand
Social and community factors
  • Erin Robinson - Earth Science Information Partnership
  • Paul Box - CSIRO
  • Andrew Treloar - Australian National Data Service
  • Ingo Simonis - Open Geospatial Consortium

Logistics and accommodation

International guests will find that there are few international flights directly into Canberra. You will likely be routed through Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne.

The symposium will be held at CSIRO's Black Mountain site. There are many accommodation options in Canberra, though it is usually tighter when parliament is sitting which includes this week. Locations in Acton, New Acton, Civic, Braddon, Turner are all in reasonable walking distance.

Programme Committee

Organising Committee


Simon Cox (@dr-shorthair), Jens Klump (@jklump), Lesley Wyborn, Kerstin Lehnert (@klehnert55), Bruce Caron (@BruceCaron), Erin Robinson, Jonathan Yu (@jyucsiro).