Report From The U.K. All-Hands e-Science Meeting

I attended this meeting, held in Cardiff, Wales, from 13-16 September 2010.  This is the ninth  annual UK e-Science All Hands Meeting (AHM 2010), with the theme of e-Science:  novel research, new science and enduring impact. My previous two posts have reported on topics from that meeting  (see Software Sustainability Workshop: Stories and Strategies and 25 Things for Researchers and Social Media), and here I want to give an overview of some of the other presentations I found interesting.

As an astronomer, I was very interested to hear Guy Rixon speak about the Virtual Astronomy Molecular Data Centre (VAMDC), which aims at building an interoperable e-Infrastructure for the exchange of atomic and molecular data. It is  an international project containing 24 teams. The project aims not to build new archives, but to provide common interfaces to existing word-wide databases so that astronomers can mine them seamlessly. The project purposely includes training and user engagement as important strategies to get end-user buy-in.

The real value of the meeting was that it gave me the opportunity to learn about inventive e-Science in other fields. Carole Goble gave a plenary presentation on “The Long-Tail Scientist.” She talked about her experiences on the front lines of e-Science, the “long-tail” of highly innovative and often speculative research. She described projects mainly in biochemistry and chemistry (“that’s where the money is”) involving the use of workflow applications for plugging together software and data from different sources.

Jon Blower et al. described how they were evolving a blog to make it an interactive and collaborative research project. Visit the project at http://www.blogmydata.org/, see an introductory 3 minute presentation, and learn about the technologies it uses.

Roger Barga described how to make Excel, a powerful research tool, connect to the cloud to process data and then return results to Excel.

Michael Meredith and Peter Ainsworth  described an internatonal project to identify authorship of medieval manuscripts. The project involved scanning documents to identify patterns in the elaborate handwriting scripts of the day, and then using these patterns to identify authors.

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