Three weeks ago we announced that individuals from a number of institutions across the United States got together in Boulder, Colorado, to discuss how the biological and informatics communities might go about responding to the Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections (ADBC) solicitation from NSF. For many, this solicitation represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to tackle, in a coordinated manner, a national leadership challenge. If we can work together effectively, we can make significant inroads towards digitizing all biological specimens and data, both recent and paleontological, in collections around the United States.
When the meeting in Boulder concluded, it was agreed by all participants that high levels of transparency, communication, and involvement by the community were both needed and expected in the development of any and all HUB proposals. Since then, many of us have come to feel that these levels have not been addressed in a meaningful way and the resulting silence over the last three weeks has become a liability to the community.
We believe that it is vital for able members of the community to step up and move the process forward and to keep the broad community abreast of developments. To wait to begin the processes of community organization and communication after all of the awards are announced would be waste the first six months to one year of the HUB’s limited time. Therefore, it is critical that the community begin to come together now to support the success of the HUB, regardless of who is selected to lead.
In this spirit, we’d like to announce that as the end result of many discussions over the last couple of weeks, a proposal for a HUB is going forward with CU Boulder as the lead institution and with one of us (Guralnick) as the lead Principal Investigator. As yet no one is bound to remain in this collaboration, nor are we certain that others will not join, but there was broad support from Yale, University of Kansas, Berkeley, the Field Museum, University of New Mexico, Tulane, and Harvard for this HUB arrangement.
No doubt there are others of you considering submitting HUB proposals, and if so we’d like to hear from you via this blog. Why is this? The simple answer is that we firmly believe that regardless of who finally obtains funding from NSF, more feedback from the community will lead to a better HUB. This blog was started to further that discussion.
Some of the things we want to know from members of the broad community:
- What do you want a Home Uniting Biocollections (HUB) to do?
- How might we start that process now?
- What kinds of things will help you the most, whether you are planning to submit a TCN or not?
Of course, we have our ideas (and we’ll want to share them), but there is a chance for us to begin syncing up now as opposed to later.
As we move forward, we’ll be using the blog forum here, listservers, and the NSF wiki, to engage you and ask questions. It is our belief that community participation now will pay big dividends when this process actually begins, no matter who ends up leading the HUB. We hope that you, individuals and groups from all biocollections, will take the time to comment and provide input.
Rob Guralnick, University of Colorado
Christopher Norris, Yale University/SPNHC
David Bloom, VertNet