Field Samples is a weekly Q&A asking researchers what they’ve been up to and what they’ve learned. Today, information manager/data scientist extraordinaire, Corinna Gries, talks the brave new world of “big data.”
Who are you, where are you from, and how did you get here?
I am Corinna Gries, Information Manager for the North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research (NTL LTER) site. I was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany and went to school in Kiel, Germany where I received a PhD in Botany. How I got here is a long story that involves an early interest in databasing and programming, a self-taught career change while still doing botanical ecophysiology research, and a stop as information manager for the Central Arizona Pheonix LTER site.
Pretend we just boarded an elevator and you only have a one-minute ride to tell me about your work – can you capture it a few sentences?
I archive data, which is sort of like running a museum or library for data. That is, the data are not in drawers, on shelves, or in display cases, but in a database and displayed on the web for everybody to find, download and use. This is a somewhat new discipline, called Information Management, Information Science, or lately Data Science and involves a fair amount of technical as well as science domain understanding. Continue reading
GLEON fellowship students ask questions during the summer workshop. Photo: Grace Hong
“Okay, now we’re going to do a little role playing,” the moderator announced to the room. “We need a customer and a shopkeeper, would anyone like to read a script?”
After a little coercion, two reluctant thespians assumed their roles and launched into an exchange, trading lines like “How much for that brass dish, sir?” and “You drive a hard bargain, young lady.”
The exercise is designed to help multiple stakeholders learn how to achieve what might be called “win/win” resolutions and is taken from the book “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.”
It would be easy to mistake this for some sort of corporate seminar. But it was actually a workshop for the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), an international group of ecologists, hydrologists, information technologists and computer scientists all working together to answer some big global questions about our inland waters. Continue reading
As spring moves to summer, an unprecedented scientific collaboration is sending researchers around the globe scrambling into their boats and simultaneously heading out onto the world’s lakes. It’s called “Spring Blitz,” and, from Wisconsin to Florida to Switzerland, scientists are out monitoring everything from water temperature to dissolved oxygen to plankton communities as lakes in the northern hemisphere warm up and settle in to their stratified summer conditions.
Center for Limnology (and GLEON) researchers, Paul Hanson and Cayelan Carey head out on Lake Mendota to collect samples for Spring Blitz. Photo: A. Hinterthuer
Most lakes in temperate climates undergo stratification during the warmer months. As the surface water warms, it becomes less dense and “floats” on the cold water below it and, eventually ,the water column of the lake is divided into distinct sections, the warm upper layer (epilimnion to science-minded folks) and the cold bottom layer (hypolimnion).
Emily Sylvia and other GLEON team members collect samples on Lake Annie, south of Orlando, Florida
This is the first year of the project, which is organized by the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network, a grass-roots collection of limnologists, ecologists, engineers and IT professionals collaborating to build a better understanding of the world’s freshwater ecosystems. Paul Hanson, co-chair of the GLEON steering committee and faculty member at the Center for Limnology, says this late spring is pushing researchers to their limits. Continue reading
A trip out sampling on Lake Mendota this morning yielded a robust catch of the zooplankton (tiny animal), Daphnia, a miniscule, yet voracious crustacean that goes to town on phytoplankton (tiny plant) populations that are blooming throughout the upper reaches of the water column.
Spring plankton community, Lake Mendota from Center for Limnology on Vimeo.
Eventually we’ll see so many Daphnia eating so many tiny green phytoplankton, that the waters will become crystal clear. This fleeting “clear water” phase will only last until the surface waters warm and send Daphnia down below hunting for cooler waters. Then the opposite of “clear water” will occur as blue green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms that we know all too well on Mendota take over. Unfortunately, these are just as unpalatable to any grazers in the lake as they are to those of us watching the green scums from the shore…
The sampling was part of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network’s “Spring Blitz,” an unprecedented limnological effort to simultaneously monitor spring transitions on lakes around the globe. More to come on that next week. Stay tuned!
The CFL’s Cayelan Carey and Paul Hanson take measurements on Lake Mendota as part of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network’s “Spring Blitz” monitoring project.