[tdwg-phylo] NESCent Phyloinformatics VoCamp

Nico Cellinese ncellinese at flmnh.ufl.edu
Wed Sep 9 18:01:56 CEST 2009

NESCent Phyloinformatics VoCamp


Integrating diverse biological data with the historical process of  
is a grand challenge for 21st century biology. The interoperability of  
from diverse fields (e.g., genetics, ecology, biodiversity, biomedicine)
requires a technology infrastructure based on formalized, shared
vocabularies.  Developing such vocabularies is a community project.  In
order to build controlled vocabularies and ontologies, the National
Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent: http://nescent.org) is  
sponsoring a
"Phyloinformatics VoCamp".

We invite scientists from diverse sub-disciplines to apply for this  
as explained below. The application deadline is September 18, 2009. More
information about motivation, plans, and preliminary ideas is available
online at http://bit.ly/VoCamp_Proposal.  Feel free to disseminate this
notice to colleagues who may be interested.*

A VoCamp (http://vocamp.org) is an intense, hands-on, working meeting  
face-to-face interactions between a diverse group of people focused on
vocabulary and ontology design, development and application.  The
Phyloinformatics VoCamp will include ontology and vocabulary  
developers from
relevant efforts, experts on knowledge representation and reasoning, and
users and developers of integrative applications that use these  

This event will partially overlap with the Biodiversity Information
Standards (TDWG: http://tdwg.org) Annual Conference in Montpellier,  
November 9-13, 2009.  The VoCamp is an activity of the TDWG Interest  
on Phylogenetics Standards (http://wiki.tdwg.org/Phylogenetics) and is
partly supported by TDWG and the Université Montpellier.

The objective of the event is to connect previously disparate ontology
development efforts, stakeholder communities, and interoperability
initiatives with shared objectives. Aside from sharing knowledge,  
and best practices, our goal is to build-out existing ontology  
resources in
a hands-on manner in terms of ontological rigor, semantic richness, and
modularity that supports effective reuse.

We also plan to have programming expertise and activities present at the
event, such as for necessary large-scale transformations, and  
especially for
proof-of-concept applications that directly apply the ontologies being

On a long-term basis, we anticipate that the event, if successful,  
will give
rise to similarly structured follow-up events organized by the  
stakeholder communities, such as TDWG, SONet
(http://sonet.ecoinformatics.org), and OBO (http://www.obofoundry.org).

The VoCamp will be 4 days in duration during November 7-11, 2009 and is
co-located with the TDWG annual conference
(http://www.tdwg.org/conference2009) in Montpellier, France.  The  
first two
days (Nov 7-8) will be dedicated entirely to VoCamp and the remainder  
of the
event (Nov 10-11) will overlap with TDWG 'workshops days'.  Participants
will have the opportunity, and are encouraged, to interact with TDWG
participants and attend conference sessions outside of the VoCamp.

The specific vocabulary development targets will be selected by the
participants partly in advance through a dedicated area on a wiki, a  
list, and one or more conference calls, and partly on-site through an  
Space activity. The exact agenda for the event will be developed  
but will be largely devoted to ontology and vocabulary development  
time. At
the event itself, participants will self-organize into small subgroups
focused on particular targets. The VoCamp will conclude with a wrap-up
session, and a report presented to the TDWG conference audience.

We also anticipate that several "boot camps" will be needed to ensure a
productive event for all participants, for example on ontology design  
engineering, reasoning, and infrastructure for collaborative  
development of

We welcome comments and suggestions for issues in ontology development  
are not explicitly addressed here or in our proposal but that could be
addressed at the event. Please email the organizers at vocamp1 at nescent.org
with any suggestions.

The application consists of your cv and your responses to 6 questions  
your experience, skills, objectives, support, and commitment to open
software development. To apply, please fill out the online form at
http://bit.ly/VoCamp_Form by September 18, and submit your CV  to the
organizers at vocamp1 at nescent.org. NESCent will provide funds in  
support of
expenses, including travel, accommodation, registration, and meals.  
the final amount of funds available and the support requested by the
participants, sponsorship may need to be capped.
Logistical and travel details will be communicated to accepted and  

We specifically encourage applications from members of under-  
groups, specifically women and minorities, and from graduate students  
post-docs.  If you have questions or are unsure whether to apply, please
contact an organizer or write to vocamp1 at nescent.org .

Please understand that funding and space for this event are limited.
We also need to balance a critical mass of expertise in specific areas  
broad participation. Therefore, not all qualified applicants can be
guaranteed acceptance.


The Organizing Committee

  Arlin Stoltzfus, Chair (University of Maryland Biotechnology  
  Nico Cellinese (University of Florida)
  Karen Cranston (Field Museum of Natural History)
  Hilmar Lapp (NESCent)
  Sheldon McKay (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, iPlant Collaborative)
  Enrico Pontelli (New Mexico State University)

* This announcement is being sent to the following lists: evoldir, TDWG,
SSB, nexml, phylows, CDAO, SONet, GBIF, Ecolog, TAXACOM.

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