Report: 2020 ADBC Summit

Wed, 10/07/2020 - 3:59pm -- jvgoodwin

The 10th annual Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections (ADBC) Summit was held virtually September 22-25, 2020. The ADBC Summit brought together representatives from Thematic Collections Networks (TCNs), Partners to Existing Networks (PENs), the National Science Foundation (NSF), iDigBio, and other initiatives related to the national effort to digitize biodiversity collections through NSF's ADBC program. The Summit’s aim was to inspire collaboration and facilitate discussions on shared goals, challenges, and opportunities. With 263 attendees, the virtual conference drew nearly twice as many participants as past Summits. Session recordings and presentations can be found on the Summit wiki page.

Day one of the Summit was dedicated to welcoming new partners to the ADBC community. The morning began with an orientation to ADBC organized by the iDigBio Core team. iDigBio gave a series of presentations about resources, how to get involved, and what is expected of TCN and PEN award recipients. Next, break-out sessions were held to allow new and existing TCN members the opportunity to network and ask questions. The day ended with a less formal meet-and-greet for the new TCNs and PENs.

Day two of the Summit began with a keynote session from Rebecca Johnson, Associate Director for Science and Chief Scientist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), and Ian Owens, Deputy Director at the Smithsonian’s NMNH. Rebecca addressed the Smithsonian’s efforts to integrate collections based research and their digitization efforts. Ian discussed the state and relevance of global natural history collections in the 21st Century. Later in the afternoon, the three 2020 TCN awardees gave presentations highlighting their plans for the future of their projects.

Presentations from existing TCNs were given on the third day. Fifteen active TCNs gave presentations that included a short overview of their TCN and either a story highlighting their accomplishments in workflows, sustainability, collaboration, broader impacts, and research use of data, or one lesson learned that would benefit new TCNs starting out. Presentations were five to ten minutes and provided a lot of helpful insight about what the TCNs have accomplished over the last year.

The final day of the Summit was designed to be forward-thinking with regard to the future of museum collections. The day started with a review of the survey results from the pre-conference mini-series, “Taking the Pulse of Natural History Collections During COVID-19 Series: Where are we now?”, followed by a review of the recently released National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Report: "Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century". Then, NSF program officers Reed Beaman, Peter McCartney, and Roland Roberts gave a “Looking forward with NSF” presentation. The day ended with all speakers acting as panelists to address questions generated from group discussions.

Although this year’s virtual format prevented us all from meeting and collaborating with our peers in person, we were thankful for everyone’s flexibility and enthusiasm moving to a virtual format!

Next year's 2021 ADBC Summit will be integrated into the Biodiversity Summit 2021 conference, tentatively planned for October of 2021. iDigBio will be partnering with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and GBIF for the joint 2021 event. We hope to see you there!