Training and Support in Informatics and Computational Ecology at NCEAS
An integral part of the NCEAS experience is the exchange of both scientific and technical information that takes place among Center scientists. Residents at the Center regularly interact to share and discuss their research efforts, which often also involves discussion about which technology solutions to use when pursuing collaborative building of databases or partitioning analytical responsibilities. When Working Groups meet at NCEAS, there is a knowledge ‘cross-pollination' that occurs between the members as they fulfill the group's objectives both in terms of the scientific research aims, as well as the technological means they use to achieve those ends.
In addition to the atmosphere for continuous informal information exchange and learning, NCEAS provides consultation services for its scientists in the areas of programming and analysis and informatics; as well as general technical support. A Scientific Computing Knowledge Base serves as a portal for cataloging general approaches to computing in ecology as experienced at NCEAS. Focused training opportunities in an array of scientific and technical areas are also provided to NCEAS' residents and visitors.
Resident and Visitor Consultation
At all times, NCEAS Informatics and Scientific Computing Staff welcome specific requests for information, training, and consultation that will enhance research undertaken by NCEAS residents and visitors. Scientific Programmer/Analyst support staff, scicomp [at] nceas.ucsb.edu (Jim Regetz), is available to help orient new visitors to NCEAS' scientific computing resources, as well as to provide advice and assistance with scientific computing. help [at] nceas.ucsb.edu (Nick Brand and Thomas Hetmank) are available to address any general issues related to using the computers and networks at NCEAS.
Training and learning occur via a number of different mechanisms, ranging from weekly Roundtable discussions on current research pursuits with NCEAS, UCSB, and visiting scientists, to multi-session workshops designed to instruct in focused topics such as the use of statistical software packages or new analytical methods.
- Roundtable is a roundtable discussion on current research pursuits with NCEAS, UCSB, and visiting scientists. Discussions generally take place on Wednesdays 12:15 - 1:15 or Friday 4:00 - 5:00 each week. Sign up to receive NCEAS Roundtable announcements.
The Center's Scientific Computing Staff offers multi-session short courses that provide instruction on analytic methods and computer software tools.
Advanced Quantitative Methods Seminars
NCEAS and its affiliated programs sponsor and, in many cases, host seminars on advanced quantitative methods of interest to ecologists, presented by experts in their respective fields.
- The Paleobiology Database Project consists of three components: A purpose-built relational database and search tools, a Working Group, and regular training in the form of a four-week intensive course in theory and practice of Analytical Paleobiology.
- Postdoctoral Training Workshops - each year, NCEAS sponsors at least two training workshops for Postdoctoral Associates and other interested professionals and students:
- Informatics Tools - NCEAS Informatics Research Staff train Postdoctoral Associates to use informatics tools that have been developed through NCEAS collaborative projects, such as Morpho and Kepler.
- NCEAS Postdoctoral Associates choose a workshop that will provide training in tools of general interest to the group, such as analysis of multivariate time series in free open-source software.
Informatics Collaborative Training Intensives
- Collaborative projects such as The Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity (KNB) and the Science Environment for Ecological Knowledge (SEEK) regularly offer workshops to ecologists.
- KNB Data Management Tools Workshop: This workshop is designed to provide data managers with hands-on experience with informatics tools being created under the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity Project . Participants learn to use and apply Morpho, Ecological Metadata Language (EML) , and the Metacat to manage ecological data. The workshops are offered at field and research stations across the country.
- Informatics Training for LTER and OBFS: This two-week intensive training course is designed to teach field station and data managers tools for data acquisition and archiving.
- Postoctoral Symposium and Training: This one-week intensive course for early career faculty in biology, ecology, and related fields is designed to teach them how to incorporate informatics into their teaching portfolio.
Project Specific Training
Specific Informatics Research Projects usually include training staff who will use products developed by NCEAS researchers. For example, the Informatics Research Staff have trained rangers at Kruger National Park and managers in Ecosystem-based Management of Coastal Marine Systems to use a new data management system.
Data sharing ethics and tools are integral to the success of these large, geographically dispersed collaborations. Graduate students “learn by doing,” supported and trained by the NCEAS Informatics Research Staff and Scientific Computing Staff.