NSF INTEROP 2009
Over several years a variety of people, including NESCent's informatics staff, NESCent's Evolutionary Informatics working group, and the participants in the recent Evolutionary Database Interoperability hackathon laid the foundation that put us in a position to apply to the NSF INTEROP program. This program provides up to 250 K per year to support a data interoperability network. The network should be multidisciplinary; and the network proposal should have a community aspect and a technology aspect. The deadline for this program in 2009 was July 23.
What makes us competitive:
- our past success in developing interop technologies nexml, CDAO and PhyloWS
- the 3-part interop formula of data syntax (nexml), semantics (CDAO) and services (phyloWS)
- our past success in actual demonstration projects that show off interop technology
- our demonstrated commitment to including diverse projects
- our connections with a network of researchers, programmers, and data providers
In light of this, we developed a proposal for a data interoperability network focused on trees and associated data and metadata. Two key features of the proposal are the use of hackathons, and the use of the "EvoIO Stack" (
The EvoIO NSF Interop Proposal
INTEROP: A network for enabling community-driven standards to link evolution into the global web of data (EvoIO)
PI: Arlin Stoltzfus, Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (CDAO, Bio::NEXUS, Nexplorer). Co-PIs: Karen Cranston, EOL and Field Museum of Natural History; Enrico Pontelli, New Mexico State University, Computer Science (CDAO); Sheldon McKay, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (GMOD, modENCODE, iPlant), Hilmar Lapp, NESCent (PhyloWS, BioSQL); Nico Cellinese, University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History (TOLKIN, RegNum).
Broader impacts. The research areas affected by this proposal— all those areas in which phylogenetic trees are used routinely— are diverse and currently are not unified by professional organizations, software platforms, or standards. By bringing together scientists from various disciplines, we will develop awareness of the need for standards, cohesion around preferred approaches to interoperability, and ultimately a broad consensus on specific standards. This will be accomplished by building on the momentum of work done under prior NSF funding via NESCent. The key to developing a cohesive community in the absence of pre- existing cohesion is the hackathon mechanism, which generates success stories and arms young researcher-programmers with the know-how to create further successes. Through this mechanism, user requirements will be translated into standards and specifications, and implemented in community software tools. Reference Implementations (developed concurrently with standards and specifications) will be used to aid in standards development and training. Hackathons will take place in eastern, western, and central locations to maximize diversity in impact, and will include strategically selected participants as well as a large fraction of participants chosen in response to a broad solicitation in the biodiversity, systematics, genomics, and phylogenetics communities. Standards and specifications developed by the Network will be disseminated via the relevant international standards group (the TDWG Phylogenetics Standard Interest Group). Efforts will be made to integrate ideas from this project into existing educational and outreach programs, with particular focus on involving students from NMSU (a minority-serving institution).
The Project Description is available as a PDF.