EarthCube RCN: iSAmpLEs: The internet of Samples in the Earth Sciences

Lead PI: Dr. Kerstin A. Lehnert , Yue Cai

Unit Affiliation: Marine and Polar Geophysics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

September 2014 - August 2019
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: Across many Earth Science disciplines, research depends on the availability of representative samples collected above, at, and beneath Earth?s surface, on the moon and in space, or generated in experiments. These samples are fundamental references that are studied to generate new knowledge about the earth and the entire universe and a deeper understanding of the processes that created and shaped it, the availability of natural resources and the risk of natural hazards. Many samples have been collected at great cost and with substantial difficulty, are rare or unique and irreplaceable. The use of information technology and the internet to make these samples easily accessible, to ensure persistent access to relevant sample metadata, to allow unambiguous linking of the physical objects to the digital data in a distributed data infrastructure, will have a broad impact across the entire Earth Sciences. It will open new opportunities to reexamine existing samples in response to new societal issues, environmental concerns, scientific interpretations, and analytical techniques. The activities of this coordination network will allow domain scientists, curators, and computer and information scientists to learn from each other about the requirements of physical and digital sample and collection management and to articulate a vision of and a path forward toward an Internet of Samples in the Earth Sciences. The EarthCube Research Coordination Network iSamplES (Internet of Samples in the Earth Sciences) is intended to advance the use of innovative cyberinfrastructure to connect physical samples and sample collections across the Earth Sciences with digital data infrastructures to revolutionize their utility for science. The ultimate goal of this RCN is to dramatically improve the discovery, access, sharing, analysis, and curation of physical samples and the data generated by their study for the benefit of science and society as part of the EarthCube program. In order to work toward this objective, the project will help build, grow, and foster domain scientists, curators of sample repositories and collections, computer and information scientists, software developers and technology innovators to engage in and collaborate on defining, articulating, and addressing the needs and challenges of physical samples as a critical component of digital data and information infrastructures (theme 1: socialization). The RCN will compile information about existing resources (technologies, architectures, tools, profiles, workflows) that facilitate the management of samples, sample collections, and sample-based data in the field, in the lab, in repositories, in data systems and scientific publications, and identify critical gaps and needs (theme 2: knowledge creation). The RCN will recognize and promote best practices and standards for sample identification, documentation, citation, curation, and sharing across the entire Earth Science community as a foundation to building a shared cyber-infrastructure (theme 3: best practices).