GRIIDC Conference Highlights

The 2015 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference, held February 17th -19th in Houston, Texas, brought together over 1000 people from 22 countries. The focus of this year’s conference was to answer questions after five years of studying the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - what have we learned, what does it mean, and how can it be used? Eight staff members from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information & Data Cooperative (GRIIDC) were on hand to report on data management lessons learned, assist researchers, and address data management issues within the GoMRI program.

On day one, GRIIDC was well represented during the scientific session “Data Management and Informatics Supporting Ecosystem Sciences”. This session, proposed by GRIIDC’s physical oceanography subject matter expert Dr. Matthew Howard, attracted 70 participants. Five presentations from GRIIDC covered a range of topics from the use of cryptographic hashing to detect file changes, to metadata for heterogeneous data collections, and to how GRIIDC advances a culture of data sharing. Other session presenters represented private, state, and federal groups tasked with assembling and maintaining integrated networked data systems or for employing these systems to drive ecosystem models or deliver near real-time results. Session co-chairs were encouraged to see that the informatics community, comprised of scientists, computer scientists, and engineers were speaking the same language and are hopeful that the session will be just as successful in 2016.

Throughout the week, GRIIDC staff managed an exhibit booth, answering questions and distributing informational materials to assist conference participants with data management. The exhibit attracted conference participants from all GoMRI funding programs and industry. GRIIDC staff were impressed to discover many RFP IV (the latest awarded funding cycle) researchers were aware of GRIIDC and their GoMRI data management responsibilities. The booth included an interactive display to allow visitors to explore and provide valuable feedback on the new GRIIDC website design. Most importantly, a computer help desk allowed GRIIDC staff to assist researchers with data submission at the conference.

The eventful week for GRIIDC staff also included hosting six data management workshops. Three workshop subjects were each addressed twice during the week to allow conference participants to schedule the workshops into their conference plans. Eighty participants were introduced to the GoMRI Data Management Program, walked-through the GRIIDC system, and learned about metadata and best practices. Through workshop evaluations, attendees provided feedback indicating that the content of the workshops was useful, presented at the appropriate level of detail, and noted that they would recommend the workshops to others.

During the conference GRIIDC team members also participated in various meetings, attended training sessions, provided support to conference organizers, and responded to media requests. Upon returning to Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, GRIIDC staff have been following up on discussions and meetings held during the week so that GRIIDC can continue to build the culture of data sharing in the GoMRI community. The team looks forward to doing it all again – in Tampa, FL next year.