The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego and its partners – including Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego – a three-year, $5.9 million grant to host the EarthCube Office as part of the ongoing NSF-funded EarthCube program. EarthCube is aimed at transforming geoscience research by creating an advanced cyberinfrastructure to further access, sharing, visualization, and analysis of geosciences data and resources.
EarthCube is an open-access portal of databases where researchers in the geosciences fields can share information and data that could be useful to colleagues. Recent collaborations have included a GIS batabase that describes the upper crust of the Earth, a directory of geoscientists and publications from around the world, and a tool that allows scientists to better analyze high-resolution satellite imagery.
SDSC will be the lead institution for the grant, with Christine Kirkpatrick, director of SDSC’s Research Data Services division, serving as the principal investigator for the new initiative. Catherine Constable, Distinguished Professor of Geophysics at Scripps, will be a co-principal investigator. Previously she served as former co-chair of EarthCube’s external advisory group.
Constable brings a career in geosciences and experience building similar databases that connect academics around the world to share data in their field. As co-PI, she will build relationships between geoscience experts and IT professionals in order to ensure that the best data is being accurately included and accessible. In 2003, she helped create the Magnetics Information Consortium (MagIC) in partnership with fellow Scripps researchers and scientists at Oregon State University. MagIC is an open community digital data archive for rock and paleomagnetic data with portals that allow users access to archive, search, visualize, download, and combine datasets, similar to EarthCube.
“Increasing development and access to technology innovations, and nurturing a community of technically savvy and engaged geoscientists will build capacity in the geoscience research ecosystem,” said Constable. “This includes bridging efforts to facilitate opportunities for scientists who might not otherwise interact with EarthCube.”
“The EarthCube Office, or ECO, will build on the foundational work done during the last seven years while expanding EarthCube’s reach across geosciences disciplines,” said Kirkpatrick. “Our team looks forward to working with the geosciences community to deliver programmatic support and resources that are responsive to community needs.”
Earlier this year, SDSC announced that its data initiatives group in the Research Data Services department will host the first GO FAIR office in the U.S. as part of the division’s role in the U.S. National Data Service (NDS) initiative. GO FAIR is a group aimed at making data FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. The data initiatives team is also part of the NSF’s Regional Big Data Innovation Hubs for the west, co-hosted with UC Berkeley and University of Washington, and now in its fourth year.
Co-PIs for the new EarthCube Office award include Erin Robinson, executive director of the Federation for Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP); and Kenton McHenry, a principal research scientist and Deputy Director of the Scientific Software & Applications Division at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. Co-PI Rebecca Koskela, previously executive director of the NSF-funded Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE) and a member of the EarthCube Leadership Council, will be the EarthCube Office’s first executive director.
The EarthCube initiative started in 2011 to encourage geoscience researchers and technologists to work collaboratively to harness the data revolution. ECO will be responsible for supporting EarthCube’s core organizational units and governance.
ECO will also facilitate the development and sharing of resources, help coordinate collaborations on high-impact interdisciplinary projects, and collect relevant cyberinfrastructure and tools in the GeoCODES Registry while raising awareness and exposure to this and other resources. ECO is working with the current office on the transition, with ECO slated to officially open Oct. 1, 2019.