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CSIRO CESS reporting

Cutting Edge Science report template.docx

Name of Symposium

Linking environmental data and samples

Name of scientist submitting the report

Simon J D Cox

Date of Symposium

29 May - 2 June 2017

Symposium Background. 

Include if it was part of a larger conference, location of symposium, aims and collaborating organisations.

The International Symposium on Linking Environmental Data and Samples was held at CSIRO Black Mountain, and brought together leading researchers in earth and environmental informatics, to examine the current state of the art in environmental science data publication and its use of modern web principles. The focus was on linking data, with a particular interest in the integration of physical samples with datasets based on these, with a goal of triggering the adoption of uniform practices across Australia and internationally. The symposium was not formally part of any series, but built on existing networks primarily from (i) earth sciences and (ii) biodiversity, as well as work on data standards and services undertaken over >20 years in CSIRO Minerals and CSIRO Land and Water (and predecessors).

The design of the symposium built on the experience of the highly successful Earth Science Information Partnership (ESIP) series that has been running for more than two decades in North America. The Executive Director of ESIP (USA) was part of the organizing committee, along with two CSIRO business units (Minerals, Land and Water) and representatives of the National Computational Infrastructure (ANU) and the Interdisciplinary Earth Data Alliance (Columbia University, USA).

Key to the success of the symposium was strong involvement from all the earth-and-environmental-science oriented NCRIS facilities (ALA, AuScope, IMOS, TERN, as well as ANDS) and the relevant public sector agencies and departments (GA, BoM, DoEE). A large number of other organizations were involved - see affiliations of invited speakers below, and the list of attendees on the Symposium website

Organising Committee

Include the organisations they represent

Simon J D Cox, Jens Klump, May Ling Goode - CSIRO

Lesley Wyborn - ANU / ANDS

Kerstin Lehnert - Columbia University (USA)

Erin Robinson - Earth Science Information Partners (USA)

Number of Registrants


Invited Guest Speakers

Include the organisations they represent and their expertise

Lee Belbin - Taxonomic Databases Working Group - Biodiversity informatics

Dave Blodgett - US Geological Survey (USA) - Hydrology / informatics

Cyndy Chandler - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (USA) - Oceanography & marine informatics

Doug Fils - Ocean Leadership (USA) - Oceanography & marine informatics

Peter Fox - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (USA) - Earth and space science informatics / semantics

Jeremy Groves - Dept. of the Environment and Energy - Environmental informatics

Rob Guralnick - University of Florida (USA) - Life science informatics / curator

Siddeswara Guru - University of Queensland - Ecosystem informatics

Donald Hobern - Global Biodiversity Information Facility (Denmark) - Life science informatics

Wim Hugo - South African Environmental Observation Network (South Africa) - Data and information publication

Kerstin Lehnert - Columbia University (USA) - Geochemistry / Earth sciencce informatics

Brent McInnes - Curtin University - Geochemistry

Tim Rawling - AuScope - Geology/Geophysics/Mineral Exploration

Alistair Ritchie - Landcare Research (New Zealand) - Earth and environmental science information services

Erin Robinson - Earth Science Information Partners (USA) - Information community development

Pablo Rozas Larraondo - Australian National University - High performance computing & data

Adam Shepherd - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (USA) - Oceanography & marine informatics

Ingo Simonis - Open Geospatial Consortium (Germany) - Geospatial information standards / citizen science

Markus Stocker - Marum/Pangaea (Germany) - Theory of science / informatics

Andrew Treloar - Australian National Data Service - Research data management and services

Ramona Walls - CyVerse (USA) - Biodiversity informatics

John Wieczorek - University of California (USA) - Biodiversity informatics

Lesley Wyborn - Australian National University - Earth and space science informatics / standards

Andre Zerger - Bureau of Meteorology - Environmental informatics

see Speaker Bios for more information

List the outcomes/developments/linkages or collaborations arising from the symposium.

  1. Initiation of Earth and Environment Science Information Partners (Australia) (E2SIP), as a local community-of-practice for earth and environmental science informatics, under the guidance and support of ESIP US. ESIP (Earth Science Information Partners) is a 20 y.o. US-based community-of-practice who’s Executive Director (Erin Robinson) assisted in convening the symposium. E2SIP Australia is being taken forward through NCI, CSIRO, TERN, ALA, AuScope and ANDS, with workshops scheduled at the 2018 C3DIS and 2018 eResearch conferences.
  2. Proposal to Sloan Foundation for a project Defining the Future of the IGSN as a Global Persistent Identifier for Material Samples. Sloan Foundation sponsored several of the international participants and have indicated their interest in supporting follow-up work. Most of the proposed participants in the Sloan project were involved in the symposium.
  3. Session on Persistent Identifiers at the 2018 TDWG conference, convened by members of the biodiversity community who participated in the Symposium.
  4. Initial meeting of International Geochemistry Network, including Columbia University, Curtin University, CSIRO, Geoscience Australia.
  5. The International Geosample Number (IGSN) organization has adopted the CSIRO Sample Metadata schema.
  6. Agreement between ESIP, OGC and ANDS to support a revival of the RDA (Research Data Alliance) Vocabulary Services Interest Group, with EUDAT and CSIRO who had already initiated.
  7. CSIRO (Paul Box) sponsored by Sloan Foundation to participate in Indiana University's Ostrom Workshop (July 2017), followed by the ESIP summer meeting.
  8. CSIRO, USGS and Landcare Research (New Zealand) developed plan for OGC 'ELFIE' Interoperability Experiment in a meeting held in Melbourne the week following the Symposium

List the outputs arising from the symposium.

(papers, special journal editions, reports)

Abstracts volume published prior to meeting -

Symposium report in EOS -

Paper providing definition of 'sample' in preparation.

Financial Report

in prep offline

Additional Comments

Attach Program (optional)


EOS Workshop report

Lehnert, Kerstin (Columbia University)Klump, Jens (Mineral Resources, Kensington WA)Cox, Simon (L&W, Clayton)Wyborn, Lesley (NCI) to prepare

Published 2018-01-16Connecting Scientific Data and Real-World Samples - Eos.pdf


Workshop proceedings

eResearch newsletter 

 Wyborn, Lesley (NCI)Cox, Simon (L&W, Clayton)


Cutting Edge Science Symposium – Linking Environmental Data and Samples

The last week of May 2017, saw a gathering in Canberra of world leaders in earth and environmental science informatics, at a Cutting Edge Science Symposium entitled ‘Linking Environmental Data and Samples’, which was designed to examine the state of the art in environmental science data publication and its use of modern web principles. There were around 70 participants, including 18 internationals and 20 early career researchers.  Participants were drawn from the solid earth sciences, marine science, oceanography, ecosystems, biodiversity, soil science and remote sensing. Six NCRIS facilities contributed: NCI, ANDS, TERN, ALA, AuScope and IMOS.

More information, including abstracts, participants and presentations on:

Contact: Simon Cox ( )

CSIRO Intranet

 Cox, Simon (L&W, Clayton)Love, Cynthia (IM&T, Clayton)

Cutting Edge Science Symposium – Linking Environmental Data and Samples

The last week of May saw a gathering of world leaders in earth and environmental science informatics, at a CSIRO Cutting Edge Science Symposium entitled ‘Linking Environmental Data and Samples’. Around 70 participants total, including 18 international visitors and 20 early career researchers met at Black Mountain. In keeping with the theme of connecting data to real world samples, the symposium kicked off with a ‘field trip’ to collections at Geoscience Australia, the Botanic Gardens, and CSIRO’s National Herbarium and Insect Collections.

The symposium was designed to examine the state of the art in environmental science data and use of modern web tools to add semantics and link to samples. Participants were drawn primarily from the solid earth sciences (geology and geophysics), marine science and oceanography, ecosystems, biodiversity, soil science and remote sensing. Six NCRIS facilities were involved – NCI, ANDS, TERN, ALA, AuScope and IMOS.

The meeting programme was organized around five themes (science drivers, open science, technical issues, solutions, and social and community factors). It was structured as a mixture of conventional presentations, ‘un-conference’ sessions (breakouts, where the topic was determined just prior, in response to the scene-setting presentations) an ‘anti-conference’ (where selected volunteers confessed to failures, rather than boasting about successes) as well as some light relief in the form of an ‘Upgoer Challenge’ (technical presentations limited to only the ten hundred most used words in English).

A variety of follow-up activities are planned. Chief among these is the formal continuation of the community of practice through the establishment of ESIP-Australia, following a successful 20-year old model of the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) in USA. ESIP’s Executive Director Erin Robinson was a key member of the symposium steering and programme committees, and is helping guide the formation of ESIP-Australia with key leaders from CSIRO and the NCRIS facilities. Other significant outcomes included the formulation of standard sample definition for interdisciplinary use, the adoption of the Australian sample description model for the International Geosample Number (IGSN) registry, the establishment of an international geochemistry network, a revival of the Vocabulary Services Interest Group in the Research Data Alliance (RDA) with ANDS, ESIP and OGC, and a variety of contributions to the new CODATA Commission on Standards.

For more information, including abstracts and slide decks from all presentations, a list of participants, and videos of the Upgoer Challenge, see

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