[Taxacom] NESCent Phyloinformatics VoCamp

Nico Cellinese ncellinese at flmnh.ufl.edu
Wed Sep 9 10:32:56 CDT 2009

NESCent Phyloinformatics VoCamp


Integrating diverse biological data with the historical process of
evolution is a grand challenge for 21st century biology. The
interoperability of data from diverse fields (e.g., genetics, ecology,
biodiversity, biomedicine) requires a technology infrastructure based
on formalized, shared vocabularies.  Developing such vocabularies is a
community project.  In order to build controlled vocabularies and
ontologies, the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent: http://nescent.org 
is sponsoring a "Phyloinformatics VoCamp".

We invite scientists from diverse sub-disciplines to apply for this
event, as explained below. The application deadline is September 18,
2009. More information about motivation, plans, and preliminary ideas
is available online at http://bit.ly/VoCamp_Proposal.  Feel free to
disseminate this notice to colleagues who may be interested.*

A VoCamp (http://vocamp.org) is an intense, hands-on, working meeting
with face-to-face interactions between a diverse group of people
focused on vocabulary and ontology design, development and
application.  The Phyloinformatics VoCamp will include ontology and
vocabulary developers from relevant efforts, experts on knowledge
representation and reasoning, and users and developers of integrative
applications that use these ontologies.

This event will partially overlap with the Biodiversity Information
Standards (TDWG: http://tdwg.org) Annual Conference in Montpellier,
France, November 9-13, 2009.  The VoCamp is an activity of the TDWG
Interest Group on Phylogenetics Standards (http://wiki.tdwg.org/Phylogenetics 
and is partly supported by TDWG and the Université Montpellier.


The objective of the event is to connect previously disparate ontology
development efforts, stakeholder communities, and interoperability
initiatives with shared objectives. Aside from sharing knowledge,
expertise, and best practices, our goal is to build-out existing
ontology resources in a hands-on manner in terms of ontological rigor,
semantic richness, and modularity that supports effective reuse.

We also plan to have programming expertise and activities present at
the event, such as for necessary large-scale transformations, and
especially for proof-of-concept applications that directly apply the
ontologies being developed.

On a long-term basis, we anticipate that the event, if successful,
will give rise to similarly structured follow-up events organized by
the participating stakeholder communities, such as TDWG, SONet (http://sonet.ecoinformatics.org/ 
and OBO (http://www.obofoundry.org).


The VoCamp will be 4 days in duration during November 7-11, 2009 and
is co-located with the TDWG annual conference (http://www.tdwg.org/conference2009/ 
in Montpellier, France.  The first two days (Nov 7-8) will be
dedicated entirely to VoCamp and the remainder of the event (Nov
10-11) will overlap with TDWG 'workshops days'.  Participants will
have the opportunity, and are encouraged, to interact with TDWG
participants and attend conference sessions outside of the VoCamp.

The specific vocabulary development targets will be selected by the
participants partly in advance through a dedicated area on a wiki, a
mailing list, and one or more conference calls, and partly on-site
through an Open Space activity. The exact agenda for the event will be
developed similarly, but will be largely devoted to ontology and
vocabulary development time. At the event itself, participants will
self-organize into small subgroups focused on particular targets. The
VoCamp will conclude with a wrap-up session, and a report presented to
the TDWG conference audience.

We also anticipate that several "boot camps" will be needed to ensure
a productive event for all participants, for example on ontology
design and engineering, reasoning, and infrastructure for
collaborative development of ontologies.

We welcome comments and suggestions for issues in ontology development
that are not explicitly addressed here or in our proposal but that
could be addressed at the event. Please email the organizers at vocamp1 at nescent.org
with any suggestions.


The application consists of your cv and your responses to 6 questions
about your experience, skills, objectives, support, and commitment to
open software development. To apply, please fill out the online form
at http://bit.ly/VoCamp_Form by September 18, and submit your CV  to
the organizers at vocamp1 at nescent.org. NESCent will provide funds in
support of expenses, including travel, accommodation, registration,
and meals. Pending the final amount of funds available and the support
requested by the participants, sponsorship may need to be capped.
Logistical and travel details will be communicated to accepted and
confirmed participants.

We specifically encourage applications from members of under-
represented groups, specifically women and minorities, and from
graduate students and post-docs.  If you have questions or are unsure
whether to apply, please contact an organizer or write to vocamp1 at nescent.org 

Please understand that funding and space for this event are limited.
We also need to balance a critical mass of expertise in specific areas
with broad participation. Therefore, not all qualified applicants can
be guaranteed acceptance.


The Organizing Committee

Arlin Stoltzfus, Chair (University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute)
Nico Cellinese (University of Florida)
Karen Cranston (Field Museum of Natural History)
Hilmar Lapp (NESCent)
Sheldon McKay (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, iPlant Collaborative)
Enrico Pontelli (New Mexico State University)

* This announcement is being sent to the following lists: evoldir,
TDWG, SSB, nexml, phylows, CDAO, SONet, GBIF, Ecolog, TAXACOM.

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