Highlights from EarthCube’s 2018 All Hands Meeting

The ESSO and AHM Organizing Committee enjoyed the excitement and enthusiasm that seemed to permeate the mood of the fifth annual EarthCube All Hands Users Meeting held in early June in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. This year, the theme was focused on the idea of a “Platform for Integration” for EarthCube and focused on the many successes achieved so far by the Community.

Over 125 people from all over the globe attended, representing major geoscience data facilities. The two and a half day program provided ample opportunity for new and veteran community members to convene and share progress on their respective programs.

The Meeting was especially welcoming to newer members, with an Early Career breakfast on the morning of the first day. First time participants found this overview helpful as it gave them a better idea of not only what EarthCube is all about, but what they could expect from the Meeting.

Keynote Speakers: data and communications

On Wednesday morning Dean Pesnell, Project Scientist of the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory, gave the first Keynote of the Meeting (The Sun, Sunspots, and Big Data: We Measure What We Can See, Is That Enough?), sharing his perspective on data analytics, and just a few of over 300 million images of the sun that have been collected by the SDO so far. 

On Friday morning Caroline Wagner, who conducts research in the field of science and technology and its relationship to policy, society, and innovation, shared her extensive insights on the dynamics of science communications with her keynote: Bridging and Bonding across New Terrain: Interrogation, Integration, Innovation.

A takeaway thought from Wagner’s keynote might provide a measure of comfort to researchers beleaguered by the sheer mass of data they contend with on a daily basis: “Feeling of being overwhelmed by the output of knowledge is something humans have experienced throughout time.”

Many participants looked forward to the “Speed Dating” breakout session pairing science teams and funded project representatives for the purpose of sharing science needs and EC technologies to spark future collaborations. There were eight breakout sessions in total, ranging from technical subjects, to marketing and engagement, to project sustainability.

FAIR Data Principles

Eric Lingerfelt, Technical Officer from the ESSO, and the P418 team of Doug Fils and Adam Shepherd, showcased how P418 allows for easy geodata search. It was arguably one of the most anticipated developments of EarthCube efforts since its inception in 2011. The team showed meeting participants a rapidly growing registry of data repositories that a user can search all at once. This drives right at the heart of the first of the FAIR Data Principles, that scientific data be “Findable.”

Speaking of FAIR Data, Shelley Stall from AGU presented “Enabling FAIR Data in the Earth and Space Sciences” as part of the External Partnership Opportunities Panel Session. The FAIR data science effort to make geodata Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable has been gaining momentum in the geosciences community over the past few years and it has come to the forefront of interest in many EarthCube projects.

Gwen Jacobs from the University of Hawaii presented a broad overview of the biggest science challenges and cyberinfrastructure needs of the research community as she discussed the initial responses from nearly 340 scientists across all domains from all over the globe in the CI 2030 Report. NSF expects the final report to be complete this summer, and they are still welcoming comments. More information, and the responses they’ve gathered so far, can be viewed on the NSF site.

Manish Parashar, Director of NSF’s Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, offered his view on how Cyberinfrastructure is transforming the way geoscience is happening.

Poster sessions provided collaboration, new connections

Taking a cue from feedback on last year’s Meeting, the AHM Organizing Committee scheduled Lightning Talks at the end of both Wednesday and Thursday, directly before the poster sessions they introduced. The lightning talks went from 10 last year, to over 50 one-minute pitches that incited interest and prepared participants for the following poster session. The poster sessions themselves provided a rich environment for participants to interact face-to-face. After the Meeting many participants agreed that the poster sessions should have been longer to provide even more time to learn, share, and collaborate.

Over half of the participants shared their thoughts on the meeting in a survey published on the final day. 93% of participants responded they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the overall Meeting organization, and 67% stated they were “Extremely Likely” or “Likely” to attend future meetings. 86% “Strongly Agreed” or “Agreed” that the breakout sessions were helpful to them, and over 80% stated they learned something actionable from the meeting they intended to include in their work. Respondents provided some examples, including: “rethinking who our audience is,” “a better understanding of some data sources,” “new initiatives for describing software categories that can be used in our work,” “potential use of P418 for workflow integration, how Jupyter Notebooks may relate to workflow cataloging,” and, “does finding some folks to write a proposal with count?” (Yes, it does!)

We thank you for being part of this year’s All Hands Meeting and look forward to seeing you in 2019!

2018 AHM Resources:

If the file for your presentation or poster is missing, please send it to Lynne Schreiber in the ESSO. If you see something incorrect, send an email to Julie Petro.

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