Victoria E-Research Symposium, 11 June 2008
Victoria University of Wellington hosted a successful E-Research Symposium on 11 June. Around 60 research staff and students from Victoria attended, along with colleagues from Crown Research Institutes and government agencies.
John Hine, Head of School of Computer Science at Victoria, opened the proceedings with an introduction to e-research. John defined e-research as research done faster, to a better quality, or by different methods, using advanced digital tools and services that enable diverse research expertise to be assembled in global teams focused on specific research problems.
John introduced the audience to key national and VUW-based e-research tools and services, like the KAREN network
, VUW's grid computing facilities
, and the BlueFern supercomputer at Canterbury
John launched the Victoria E-Research Professional Development Awards
, designed to help Victoria researchers to travel to international events to learn more about e-research, and encouraged symposium attendees to apply.
John Hine's presentation
Following John, two guest speakers with experience of international e-research gave us their perspectives.
Mark Gahegan, the recently appointed Director of E-Research at the University of Auckland, talked about the Geoscience Network (GEON) and how it enables geoscientists in the US and across the world to participate in a global community and share data, tools and expertise. A 3-D simulation of a serious earthquake near Los Angeles demonstrated how e-research tools and services can enable scientists to integrate data and present results in compelling new ways, with impacts not only for science but for other agencies such as emergency services and civil planning authorities.
Mark Gahegan's presentation
Neil Gemmell, the Director of the Centre for Genomics and Reproduction at the University of Otago, presented on e-research opportunities in the biosciences. Neil's theme was "the importance of being there": he focused on the ways in which e-research tools and services mean that researchers no longer need to leave New Zealand to be able to participate in global collaborations. Neil described the work of the BeSTGRID project, which was looking at ways of sharing data and computational resources across institutions, and tools like the Access Grid for communicating with colleagues around the globe.
Neil Gemmell's presentation
Victoria e-research initiatives were showcased in a series of short presentations.
Shaun Hendy from the MacDiarmid Institute described how the BlueFern supercomputer at the University of Canterbury can be accessed by Vic staff and postgraduates, and used to accelerate activities like nanotechnological simulations.
Shaun Hendy's presentation
John Townend discussed upcoming seismology projects, funded by the Earthquake Commission and the KAREN Capability Build Fund, that will explore the use of grid computing and automated workflows.
John Townend's presentation
Denis Sullivan described how his PhD student had used Victoria's grid computing service to speed up his astrophysics research; Denis hopes to use the grid for a new project involving dwarf stars.
Simon Fraser introduced the Design-Led Futures programme, and the work of design students in envisaging a future where communication and collaboration will routinely take place in virtual environments.
Simon Fraser's Design-Led Futures project
Marcia Lyons concluded the Vic showcase with a description of her work involving "sensory broadcasting"; the multimedia presentation of live data streams (for example, Antarctic ice melting) in ways that might be understood at an emotional level by non-experts.
Marcia Lyons' Antarctica Ice project online
The programme concluded with a Q&A session featuring all the speakers and chaired by David Bibby, Dean of the Faculties of Science and Architecture and Design. A lively discussion about how Vic can support its researchers was had, and the importance of skilled and enthusiastic researchers and technical specialists was emphasised.
Presentations from the E-Research Symposium are now available.
Image credits: All images courtesy of Marcia Lyons, Digital Media Design, Victoria University of Wellington. 2008.
-- sam - 13 Jun 2008