AI for biodiversity data collation and reuse

Samantha Cheng

Samantha Cheng

Title: Finding the needle in the evidence haystack – AI for biodiversity data collation and reuse

Abstract: Scientific research is growing at exponential rates, generating potentially useful datasets at a faster pace than humans can practically find, understand, and use it to make decisions about natural ecosystems. While there has been significant progress in systematically and transparent harnessing this data and synthesizing key insights around biodiversity patterns, threats, and mechanisms driving changes in diversity, this is still a particularly time-consuming task. Artificial intelligence approaches such as machine learning and natural language processing present exciting opportunities to automate, or semi-automate the processing of this information to maximize the full potential of the entire universe of research data in near real-time. In order for these approaches to perform, we require greater clarity around common data structures for biodiversity information (incl. taxonomies, geographies, biomes, and conservation approaches). This presentation will discuss new applications of AI approaches to “smart-sort” relevant information from the “evidence universe” and highlight areas where improvement in needed.

Biography: By training, Samantha Cheng is a population geneticist and conservation scientist, with experience both in the field working in tropical coral reefs, cephalopod fisheries, seafood sustainability - and in the policy sphere, engaging with diverse stakeholders in organizations, governments, and academic institutions to develop evidence-based solutions for conservation and human well-being outcomes. Cheng's research aims to improve understanding of the process of using scientific evidence in conservation planning and decision-making using a multi-disciplinary approach by systematically examining the role of evidence, methodology, interactions, and stakeholders to determine effective pathways from information to action to outcome. A project Cheng is pursuing at the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes along with Drs. Gerber and Anderson, is examining the public value of conservation, specifically from products of specific mechanism to move from evidence to outcomes, knowledge partnerships. Additionally, Cheng is also exploring the role that data science and technology can play in improving the use of evidence in conservation, leading to developing partnerships with data scientists and developers to design and deploy two apps that facilitate and democratize evidence uptake and use machine learning to help find evidence that matters, respectively. Cheng is a former Fulbright Fellow to Indonesia. At the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, Cheng aims to contribute insight on best practices for pursuing evidence-informed policy and generating tenable, applicable, and sound science for fisheries management.

Caring for Digital Data in the 21st Century

Title: Caring for Digital Data in the 21st Century:  tDAR, a Domain Repository for Cultural Heritage Data

Abstract: Hundreds of thousands of archaeological investigations in the United States conducted over the last several decades have documented a large portion of the recovered archaeological record in the United States. However, if we are to use this enormous corpus to achieve richer understandings of the past, it is essential that both CRM and academic archaeologists change how they manage their digital documents and data over the course of a project and how this information is preserved for future use. We explore the nature and scope of the problem and describe how it can be addressed. In particular, we argue that project workflows must ensure that the documents and data are fully documented and deposited in a publicly accessible, digital repository where they can be discovered, accessed, and reused to enable new insights and build cumulative knowledge.

Francis Pierce-McManamon

Francis Pierce-McManamon

Bio: Frank McManamon is the Founding Director of the Center for Digital Antiquity (Digital Antiquity) and Research Professor in the School for Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC.) Digital Antiquity is devoted to improving the access to archaeological and cultural heritage data and documents and ensuring their long term preservation and availability for current and future uses.

Before joining ASU in November, 2009, he was the chief archeologist of the National Park Service and departmental consulting archeologist for the Department of the Interior (DoI) in Washington, D.C. Professor McManamon has been involved in the development of policy, regulations, and guidance for public archaeology in National Park system and throughout the government. He has special interests and expertise in archaeological resource management, the long-term access to and preservation of archaeological data, laws and regulations related to cultural resource management and historic preservation, and public outreach and education about archaeology and archaeological resources.

He represented the DoI in providing technical assistance for the Kennewick Man case and provided archaeological advice for the General Services Administration on the New York City African Burial Ground project. He served as an expert member of official United States delegations to UNESCO negotiations on illegal artifact trafficking and the protection of underwater archeological resources.  In October, 2018, he was appointed by the Secretary of the Interior as a member of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Review Committee, a federal advisory committee that assists the National Park Service and Department of the Interior in administering the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990.

He has conducted archeological investigations in eastern North America, western Europe, and Micronesia.

Thinking About Global Futures

Title: Thinking About Global Futures

Abstract: I started out in telecommunications planning and design and required to be a data hog when data was clearly unavailable in the late 1990s, unless you parted with a significant sum of money for accessibility. If contracts were worth millions (and in fact hundreds of millions of dollars), then buying data for a fraction of that as a “cost of sales” was not a major problem. Today we realise on a larger scale what we already knew in the late 1990s, you are only as good as your data. Whether it is bureau of statistics in a given country, NASA satellite imagery, Google or Bing maps, and anything else we can get our hands on (even from local councils), unlocking that data to businesses and citizenry can have major impacts. This talk will be given in the context of Sustainable Development Goals and web-based applications like GapMinder. What do we want our future to look like in terms of data and can citizenry act like sensors in the data collection effort? What should that platform look like? And what kind of functionality would give us a view of biodiversity indicators?

Katina Michael

Katina Michael

Biography: Katina Michael is a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering at Arizona State University. She studies the social implications of emerging technologies.

The emergence of big data sets pose socioethical implications, and many challenges related to data governance. Biodiversity data sets are particularly powerful and the clash between the privatisation and openness of these data sets is particularly of interest to researchers of all types who require data for their decision making.

What to do when the data resists datafication

Christy Spackman

Christy Spackman

Title: What to do when the data resists datafication

Abstract: From pain to smell, sensory experiences continue to resist datification. This short thought experiment invites participants to think alongside fish swimming in contaminated waters to imagine what data stewardship currently looks like -- and could look like -- in the absence of quantifiable data. 

Bio: Christy Spackman is an assistant professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. She studies the environmental and social impact of scientific and technological efforts to manipulate sensory experiences of smelling and tasting. The recipient of fellowships at New York University and the Ecole Normale Supérieure, as well as fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the Mellon Foundation and American Council of Learned Societies, she’s writing “Making Nothing: the twentieth-century transformation of water.”

Li Liu

Li Liu

Li Liu

Bio: Dr. Liu is an assistant professor of Biomedical Informatics and the director of the Bioinformatics Core Facility at Arizona State University. She holds an M.D. degree in Medicine and an M.S. degree in Information System. As a trained clinician and a bioinformatics researcher, she fully appreciates the critical roles genomic medicine and bioinformatics play in advancing precision medicine. By integrating genomic, phylogenetic, population genetic, statistical and machine-learning techniques, Dr. Liu and her research team investigate clinical and molecular signatures of human diseases, and develop novel computational methods to discover biomarkers for early diagnosis and accurate prediction of therapeutic responses for individual patients. Before joining ASU, Dr. Liu helped build and directed the bioinformatics core facility at University of Florida.