SPNHC 2017 – Wow! 4 sessions running in parallel, 11 workshops and 6 special interest group meetings, with 433 attendees representing 14 countries. All of this in beautiful Denver, with no shortage of places offering delicious eats and stupendous outdoor experiences. And, as the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) hosted this conference along with the Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG), we were lucky enough to go behind-the-scenes at the Avenir Collections - spectacular - and visit the DBG - so beautiful! The 2017 theme of The Next Generation in Best Practices certainly suited iDigBio and when we put out our call for papers for two symposia, we had twice as many talks as it was possible to fit!
One of the 11 pre-SPNHC workshops, conceived of by Jennifer Strotman (Smithsonian) was SPNHC 2017’s Biodiversity Informatics 101. Over 50 people attended with about 2/3 of them being first-time SPNHC attendees. Feedback so far indicates attendees think this type of session would be good to run again in the future. Attendees ranged from undergraduates to museum directors. A few biodiversity informatics topics we discussed include: digitization maturity, digital asset management, collections staff biodiversity informatics skills and data literacy needs, and how to get involved.
Museum directors got together for a 1-day summit pre-SPNHC. Great to know administrators are discussing ways to collaborate on such topics as digitization, data mobilization and aggregation, addressing data gaps, data archiving, and looking at how more museums can incorporate biodiversity informaticians on staff.
iDigBio’s very own Austin Mast, Professor in Florida State University’s Department of Biological Science, Director of FSU's Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium, gave a plenary talk at SPNHC 2017 focusing on the recent efforts of the Society of Herbarium Curators (SHC). This included insights from the recent online course offered by Austin and iDigBio colleague David Jennings: Strategic Planning for Herbaria. Other plenary speakers included Emilie Graslie (The Field Museum), Kirk Johnson (Smithsonian), Linda Ford (Harvard), and Eric Dorfman (ICOM NATHIST and Carnegie Museum of Natural History).
iDigBio, well-represented at SPNHC 2017, also contributed talks and posters:
- How to Bring the Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections (WeDigBio) Event into Your Classroom (Austin Mast) and Natural History Collections Data and Biodiversity Literacy in Undergraduate Education (BLUE) (Elizabeth Ellwood, post doc) – both presented in the Small Collections (SCNet) Symposium: Best Practices for Integrating Collections Into Education.
- Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections (WeDigBio) — The Biocollections Community's Citizen Science Space on the Calendar (Elizabeth Ellwood) – a talk in the Public Access to Collections Symposium.
- Fantastic Fishes and Where to Find Them: A Dynamic Inventory of United States Fish Collections (Randy Singer, graduate student), Georeferencing for Research Use (GRU): innovative geospatial training using natural history collections (Shelley James, past iDigBio staff) and a poster -- On the frontlines of discovering change: biodiversity specimen collectors as the Antrhopocene’s outlier detectors (Katelin Pearson, graduate student) – all of these presented in the iDigBio Symposium: Innovative Uses of Collections Data.
- In SPNHC’s DEMO Camp, we saw “Jupyter.idigbio.org: hosted Jupyter Notebooks with biodiversity datasets for reproducible research in R and Python (Matthew Collins).
- And you can find more talks about mobilizing and using collections data on the wikis for both of these iDigBio Symposia: Advances in Digitization and Innovative Uses of Collections Data.
- and much of the above content was also recorded (Kevin Love) - so you can listen again or for the very first time.
A wonderful surprise. Thanks SPNHC!
iDigBio is honored and quite proud to be recognized by SPNHC for our efforts on behalf of the collections communities. The SPNHC 2017 closing ceremony included the presentation of a plaque, from SPNHC to iDigBio for our collaborative efforts to engage collections in digital data mobilization. [See post by Linda Ford, et al at SPNHC for more on this award].
Now that I am officially a SPNHC member-at-large, I’d like to say thank you to each of you for your votes of confidence. I look forward to your input and insights about SPNHC now and as you dream it will be in the future. To begin, I’d like to ask: Sprechen Sie Deutsch? French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, … A challenge to you all: let’s get the SPNHC Wikipedia page translated into as many languages as possible! We’ll need your help to do it. Please volunteer to translate the current text. Let’s make SPNHC polyglot. Please contact me: dpaul (at) fsu (dot) edu.
Another initiative underway includes curating the digitization content at SPNHC. If you have a favorite document that you think is crucial for SPNHC to link to – let us know! At the same time, I must add, if you have digitization, imaging, georeferencing workflows and protocols, please share them at iDigBio. The more – the betterer for everyone! (hah)
It’s time to turn our thoughts toward SPNHC-TDWG 2018. For the first time ever, these two organizations meet together, in Dunedin, New Zealand from August 25-September 2, 2018. The Theme is “Collections & Data in an Unstable World.” Please share your thoughts with us about possible topics for workshops, symposia, funding to get there, and setting up some collaborations – now! Hope to see you in New Zealand.