Internet data-mining of natural history

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Leading-edge computer technologies for organizing, analyzing and disseminating large natural history data sets will be developed at Cornell University, with a $2.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, in partnership with the university's Department of Computer Science.

The four-year project is expected to produce new techniques for interactive exploration and analysis of massive, spatio-temporal data collections. Natural history collections represent one of the largest, longest-running -- and virtually untapped -- data sets in existence.

"These data hold the answers to many biological questions that cannot be answered without more sophisticated tools to organize and analyze the information," says Steve Kelling, the Lab of Ornithology's information technologies (IT) director and a principal investigator (PI) on the grant. "The funding provided by NSF will allow us to build those tools by bringing together the expertise of computational specialists, population biologists and statisticians, with the goal of making the data sets accessible to researchers, conservation biologists, educators and citizens."

Kelling's co-PIs at the Lab of Ornithology are Director John Fitzpatrick and Assistant Bird Population Studies Program Director Wesley Hochachka. Rich Caruana, an assistant professor of computer science whose research is in machine learning, and Mirek Riedewald, a computer science research associate whose research is in data mining, also are co-PIs on the grant.

The grant is one of several the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has received from NSF for its efforts to develop Internet-based data collection and dissemination. In recent years, the lab's researchers were granted $2.25 million for Citizen Science Online, an initiative to develop online tools to engage the general public, including schoolchildren, in the collection of bird observation data. One project resulting fro

Contact: Allison Wells
Cornell University News Service

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