Dr. Matty Mookerjee, Geology, is the principal investigator (PI) for a National Science Foundation grant totaling $299,329 to help create a pioneering cyber infrastructure for collecting and analyzing geological research data.
His project, which includes 13 other co-PIs, will help to facilitate the over-arching goals of the EarthCube project which seeks to transform how research is conducted through the development of integrated data management infrastructures across the Geosciences.
The vision of EarthCube is to revolutionize earth science investigations by promoting better data access, incorporating cyber-infrastructure into scientific workflow, and allowing increasing sophistication of analyses and modeling.
"A significant strength of EarthCube is its potential for breaking down the artificial barriers between subfields within the Earth Sciences, allowing us to ask new types of questions, and providing the means to contend with previously unanswerable questions," says Mookerjee.
Specifically, this grant funds the organization of two field excursions this coming summer to facilitate a dialogue between field-based geologists, computer scientists, and cognitive scientists concerning the types of unique problems faced by the geological community with respect to data format, standards, management, representation, and integration.
Mookerjee says members from the different geological sub-communities will greatly benefit from the opportunity to discuss the types of data that they collect in "the field" (i.e., outside in the natural environment) with a group of cyber-infrastructure and software development professionals/researcher.
"We hope that by having these meetings in the field, the computer scientists will gain a better appreciation for the types of data that we collect, common methods for collecting those data, the field tools/technology that we employ, our data recording conventions, and the types of question we try to address with our data," Mookerjee says. "There is no better place to gain this appreciation than in the field."
For the same reasons that students are brought into the field to explain fundamental concepts in geology, the field will also provide an excellent venue for engaging with computer and cognitive scientists about the multiple scales and interconnections of geological data, data collection techniques, and data representation, Mookerjee says.
"We anticipate that the computer scientists will be able to guide our conversations with information about computational limitations/consideration as well as informing us about existing database technologies," he notes.
This NSF funded grant supports the assembly of a Research Coordination Network (RCN) that fosters the collaborations between earth scientists and computer scientists and cognitive psychologists.
More information can be found at: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1340265.