Saturday, August 9, 2008

scifoo 2008 friday night

A quick recap, hopefully I will follow these eventually with something more coherent but I need to sleep.

Here are a few of the people that I spent the most time talking with today - listed in the order I met them (with the text describing them copied from their entries in the wiki - if anyone wants their entry changed or removed from here please let me know):

  • Pablo Gleiser: Physicist at the Statistical and Interdisciplinary Physics Group in Centro Atómico Bariloche, Argentina. I am currently working on the relation between complex networks and synchronization phenomena.
  • Brad Zlotnick emergency physician; furthering the common good; struck out Barry Bonds. Collaborative support of biodiversity development and innovation (DNA barcoding, index and application; carbon sequestration/forest sustained and regenerated).
  • Dan Janzen - Professor of Conservation Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; I am, along with Winnie Hallwachs (see below) and many others, inventorying all of the 10,000+ species of caterpillars, their food plants and their parasites, of Area de Conservacion Guanacaste in northwestern Costa Rica; this 30-year and ongoing biodiversity project is attempting to manage massive amounts of biological collateral (text, tables and images), have it all available to anyone, and also have it linked to the DNA barcodes (a 650 base pair species-level-unique tag) for these species, as a guinea pig project for DNA barcoding the entire world by iBOL and CBOL, which in turn should lead to anyone anywhere at any time being able to identify any specimen or specimen fragment to species, and link that to the rest of what the world knows; the world can be barcoded for $3 b in 20 years.
  • Winnie Hallwachs: tropical ecologist. Tropical forests with their great species richness and boggling interactions - somehow biologists haven't managed to convey the grand scale, importance and fascination of what is out there. Looking for ways to understand (caterpillar website and barcoding - see Dan Janzen entry) and video their enormous diversity and interactions; to preserve some of the expert knowledge of biologists who have seen what is now gone; to make that data available in unconventional products that are intricately searchable, easily absorbed, and compelling; to keep it alive.
  • Barend Mons Originally amolecular biologist, I am presently focusing on computational biology and I am one of the co-founders of WikiProfessional. My main initerest is in speeding up scientific discovery by literature based knowledge discovery and notably the prediction of connections between concepts hitherto only implicitly associated in scientific data and literature. I am also co-founder of the company Knewco I will demo our concept web linker approach to anyone interested and will be looking for partners interested in building out the concept of Intellectual Networking.
  • Christine Borgman, Professor of Information Studies at UCLA. I conduct research on how data are made, asking fundamental questions about what are data, with a fabulous team of students, as part of the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing, an NSF Science and Technology Center. We apply research methods from anthropology, sociology, social studies of science, bibliometrics, and computer science to study scientific processes and to build better data management tools to support them. What is “information studies”?, you ask? We’re still trying to define it ourselves. My PhD students have brought their expertise in biology, physics, engineering, computer science, humanities, and studio art to bear in studying the very notion of data and its relationship to notions of information. My book Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet (MIT Press, 2007) was reviewed in Nature and in Science this year. I also chaired the NSF Task Force on Cyberlearning. The Cyberlearning report, complete except for some minor editoral corrections, is posted at this URL until August 14, with the following disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this report are those of the Task Force and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of the National Science Foundation. By August 14, we expect the final report to be posted on the NSF site. I’m eager to talk with other Sci Foo campers about scientific data, the changing nature of scientific scholarship, and how to use our technologies to improve learning in science.
  • TimoHannay: Publishing Director,; ex-neurophysiologist; SciFoo co-organiser.
  • Matt Brown: I'm Editor of Nature Network, working from London with Timo Hannay. My role is to create a friendly and useful place online for scientists to exchange ideas - through blogs, forums and other tools.
  • Alexander Griekspoor: Independent software developer with a scientific background located in Cambridge UK who writes innovative software for scientists on the Mac. I'm perhaps most well-known as "Mek" from the duo "Mekentosj". Together with my friend Tom "Tosj" Groothuis I developed a number of scientific Mac applications, two of which won Apple Design Awards. What started in my spare time has become my passion and now also my work. I aim to create novel and revolutionary platforms for scientists, of which my most recent program Papers is a prime example.
  • Hilary Spencer
  • Joel Selanikio: pediatrician / social entrepreneur / photographer. As co-founder of, I find ways to use open-source and lowest-common-denominator tech like SMS to bring the power of the ICT revolution to bear against problems of health and development in poor countries. I also practice pediatrics at Georgetown University, and spend a lot of time on planes, on my bike, and talking. And taking pictures.
  • Jon Kuniholm: Grad student in biomedical engineering and founder of The Open Prosthetics Project.
More to come tomorrow.. hopefully I will synthesize some of this in my dreams tonight.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ben, sounds like you had a lot of fun meeting all those people. They look like an interesting bunch!

Benjamin Good said...

I sure did. I feel badly that I haven't posted more about the meeting yet. As you know from last year, they keep you pretty busy - and its way more exciting to talk to the people there than to sneak off and blog. I was wishing I had mobile capability (holding out for the time when I can afford an iPhone) so that I could twitter little breadcrumbs to follow up later. We went directly to Costa Rica after the day scifoo ended so I'm only now getting things together enough to write - and to try to remember exactly what it is I need to do finish this phd!