This is a guest post authored by Inga Haugen and the rest of the SciData cohort from the University of Tennessee, School of Information Sciences. This post introduces the innovative new program and how it brings people from various backgrounds together for a common goal — to educate scientific data curation professionals.

At University of Tennessee, Knoxville, a class of willing guinea pigs has started their first semester in the School of Information Sciences master’s program. The program’s goal is to push the limits of what library school is about and what it can be.

These 8 students are cohorts in an innovative program called SciData, are funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and will graduate May 2014. SciData was created by principal investigator Dr. Suzie Allard and co-PIs Dr. Carol Tenopir and Dr. Peiling Wang to address the lack of trained professionals who specialize in scientific data curation, but it’s looking to accomplish so much more!

Each student has their own focus and areas of interest – even different types of “science.” All are building specialties in digital data curation with an emphasis on scientific data publishing.

Eric Altmyer

Eric has a degree in Animal Sciences and next semester will be working in medical libraries. He applied to the SciData program because it combined his interest in science with his interest in the information sciences.

William Robert Christensen

Rob speaks fondly of Oklahoma and academic and business library needs, but geospatial and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) interests are strongest. His main interest areas are user access and interface with scientific data structures, training of individuals to use scientific data structures, and the ethical and legal uses of scientific data structures.

Inga Haugen

Inga is fresh off the farm to work at the intersection of agriculture, policy, and information science. Inga’s heritage and work experiences have made her passionate about agricultural concerns in the 21st century – on a global scale.

Sandra McLean

Sandra has a journalist’s eye and looks to make science understandable, accessible, and sexy. Her love of learning combined with her ability to work with the researchers, to understand and then communicate their findings clearly to an audience seems a natural fit with a career in making science data accessible.

Dhaval (Danny) Mehta

Danny has a long interest in special libraries and, more recently, an interest in medical librarianship. He chose the SciData Scholars program because it would provide a powerful foundation for a future in biostatistics, perhaps in the public health field. Data curation and various kinds of digital archiving also interest Danny.

Chad Mitchell

Chad makes amazing pictures happen by showing networks in all their glory; he takes data sets and makes them visual. His research interests include: complexity theory and synergistic effects of collaborative science and shared data; big data analytics and knowledge discovery; scientific data growth and sustainability – especially the trade-off between diversity and redundancy of data.

Amber Owens

With a double major in English and chemistry, Amber has diverse interests. Some points of interest are information structures for complex systems, focusing on cognitive science, technology, and philosophy. Amber also wants to use information access and management as a means for improving global communication, with focus on tech literacy and narrowing the disparity between knowledgeable groups and novice groups.

Chelsea Williamson-Barnwell

Chelsea wants to use her microbiology and business degrees to play in the science realm, but hasn’t narrowed down her interests yet. She is interested in how scientific data is published and used in new research breakthroughs in medical and science applications.

These eight scholars have their first semester under their belts, and are moving forward with current interests while cultivating new ideas they found this semester. They are hoping to “hack library school” in eight totally different ways, and share some of their experiences. They welcome like-minded commentary. There aren’t many birds of this type of feather yet, and we should totally flock together.

1 reply

  1. What a fascinating program! I have worked for Dr. Katy Borner at the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center at Indiana University for the past year and a half. It has definitely opened my eyes to the thinking about scientific information, big data, and visualization… my background is in Rhetoric and Composition so it has all been quite new to me!

    I would love to hear some input from SciData students about how other library students can learn more about data curation. Are there any resources or experiences you would recommend for those who want to know more?


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