Archive for the ‘ Trainee Activities ’ Category

Biodiversity Informatics Curriculum Development, Part 1.1

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013


“Biodiversity informatics … can be defined as the creation, improvement, analysis, and interpretation of information regarding biodiversity.  The field was born out of the longtime information-management of the systematics community, in tandem with the realization of the desperate situation of the ‘biodiversity crisis’ in recent decades. Although biodiversity information has accumulated for centuries, this information has not been managed effectively until very recently. Over the past two decades however, large-scale efforts have concentrated on the challenge of building, improving, and understanding these information resources; what we now term the field of biodiversity informatics.

The primary goal … is to consolidate information and resources relating to biodiversity informatics – ultimately developing into a global, online training ‘curriculum’ for biodiversity informatics. With funding from the JRS Biodiversity Foundation, and the support of the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), we are setting out to develop such a training curriculum.” (BITC website, currently in development).

The initiative provides for a series of training courses to be held in four countries in Africa over the next 3 years, the first of which commenced yesterday in Nairobi, Kenya. Thus, the PI, myself, and 4 experts in the field of biodiversity informatics arrived late Saturday night for the first installment of the courses leading to the holistic biodiversity informatics curriculum mentioned above. The courses being taught are (1) Data Cleaning & Data Publishing and (2)Ecological Niche Modeling. Over the coming two weeks, we’ll have the opportunity to work with more than 75 people involved in all areas of biodiversity work from 15 countries across Africa. Luckily, we’re being hosted at the International Centre of Insect Physiology & Ecology (ICIPE; pictured below), so we’ve more than ample room and a comfortable place to work and exchange knowledge.

As we’re not in Nairobi proper, we even get to see a fair bit of avian biodiversity …such as these Marabou Storks (Leptoptilos crumeniferus; pictured below) convening for their own conference in a pasture adjacent to the campus…

Marabou Storks, Leptoptilos crumeniferus

…some fun nectar feeders enjoying the flowers of toxic trees (to humans)….

…signs of kids who majored in basket weaving….

Weaver Nest

….birds of prey that have learned the art of dining around regions inhabited by humans….

…and even some punk rockers.

Tundra Experience

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Phase I

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Photo of  the Turi family reindeer herd

Recently, I heard Sámi reindeer herders, of Kautokeino, refer to the last 24 hours I spent on the tundra as “Phase I” of the migration. This means, correct me if I am wrong to the people of the old Kautokeino village who read my blog:-), that the herders move the reindeer closer to Kautokeino, then in a few days the migration will begin to the west coast of Norway to their summer pasture.

Paula on the Tundra

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Below is shot of Paula Smith (right) and Ellen Inga Turi, PhD candidate, EALAT (left) out on the tundra in Norway.

Tundra and reindeer

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

A few pictures to show what I have been up to.

Mendenhall Glacier

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

We’ve just come to the end of Day 2 of the inter-IGERT workshop Understanding Rapid Environmental and Social Change in the Arctic: Bridging Traditional Knowledge and Interdisciplinary Science across IGERTs. After a morning session led by the Dartmouth team, we took a few hours in the afternoon to see a bit of Juneau.

There were three tour options and many of us selected to hike out to the Mendenhall Glacier which has seen dramatic loss of sea ice in the past decade.

For much of the year, the path to the glacier looks something like this:

But for our visit, at the tail end of winter, the path was much more passable by foot. We made the 1 point something mile trek through piles of snow and slush and occasionally bear tracks to the base of the glacier where ice bergs had broken away and torn through the lake ice. For the most part, everything still seemed fairly solid, but there were a few places that left us all with an uneasy feeling. . .

Needless to say, it was both an exciting and exhilarating day and we made it back in time for an excellent panel of speakers.

More details on the conference can be found here:

Three words today

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Tundra, lasso and yoik!!

Kautokeino, Norway

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Currently, I am attending a workshop-programme on traditional knowledge and Sami perspectives and the implementation of its uses. They are doing extensive work toward recognizing their use of traditional knowledge in all aspects of their livliehoods, including the national and international levels. I have had the opportunity over the last two days to talk with key people on traditional knowlege and climate change. It seems climate change is interconnected in all  levels of their conversations.

Alta, Norway

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

My time in Alta was spent in a zombie-like state from jet lag and after nearly 15 hours of sleep Friday and Saturday, I feel great this Sunday morning.

I hear there is not much to Alta other than the museum, I plan to check it out this afternoon. I didn’t purchase this camera for nothing, I better make use of it.

I do have good news, I met several people on the flight into Alta. Funny story – the women who is picking me up in Alta, I saw her in the Newark airport. It was a funny, strange coincidence, she walks up to gate 80 and I look at her and think, “wow she looks exactly like Ellen.” I sent her a facebook message: “Ellen, do you perhaps, happen to be in Newark airport gate 80 because there is a women who resembles your profile picture?”  At that instant, she looked up and over at me and smiled. We started to laugh, so we spent time chatting and catching up with each other. We departed in Oslo but made arrangements for her to pick me up today and drive to Kautokeino.

There was another young man I sat next to on the flight into Alta who generously offered a ride to Kautokeino with him and his son but I kindly declined. We had an interesting conversation, he talked about his recent travel from Thailand and the Philippines. He asked what I was coming to Kautokeino for and my response was to visit and learn the lifeways of the Sami. He then was interested in who I knew and said oh yes, I know them and talked about the village’s history and people. This man was very kind as he tore off the tab from his airport ticket and gave it to me to remember him. Needless to say I was fascinated by who you run into on the plane and what they share with and teach you. He was impressed with my Native Dakota history as he introduced me to his son the same way, “Paula from the Dakota people of South Dakota,” it made me proud in a very different way, from what I am used in Kansas, U.S.

Norway 2011

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Day one – The start of a great spring break - on my way to Kautokeino, Norway! My ride to KCI airport was smooth (check), passport (double -check), luggage (check), and money (embarrassing – check). I had no appetite this morning and I’m half starved in Newark airport, my first meal of the day. My departure to Oslo is 8pm, then I arrive in Alta Friday evening and this makes for a grumpy Paula! I look forward to writing interesting blogs in the next two months. I apologize, for what I call, “behind the scenes writing drama.” If you would like further detail to something I write, just ask and you shall receive.