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Les Landrum Retirement Celebration at Alameda

On Friday, October 3rd, 2014, we celebrated the official retirement of ASU Vascular Plant Herbarium Curator Dr. Les Landrum. The event took place at the just inaugurated Alameda Building. Attendance of colleagues and students, and spirits, were high – a true and fitting celebration of Les’ broad impact on the Herbarium, Southwestern United States floristics, mentoring and collaboration, and plant systematics (Myrtaceae) and biodiversity informatics (SEINet) more generally.

DarwinGuavasLiz Makings led the excellent organization of the event and, by giving an entertaining and insightful overview of the honoree’s personality and career (up to now), expressed a depth of appreciation for Les and his work that was felt by all.

Needless to say, “retirement” is a relative term for Les, and we will be fortunate to rely on his presence and dedication to the Herbarium and collections group for years to come.

Some photos of the party and its diverse and inspired food offerings are posted here.

Thank you, Les.

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Dr. Les Landrum surrounded by friends, colleagues, and students. October 3rd, 2014.

2014 UC Boulder Meaning of Names Conference in Review

A relatively short review of the timely conference “The Meaning of Names: Naming Diversity in the 21st Century”, held on September 30 to October 2nd, 2014, and organized by Rob Guralnick and the University of Colorado at Boulder Museum of Natural History.

I have uploaded the Conference Program for reference. I gave an update on Euler/X, the slides are shared again here. Some photos of the conference participants are posted on Flickr.

Having had an opportunity to present for 30 minutes allowed me to review some general ideas about names and concepts and apparently (given positive reactions) made the presentation more accessible. A number of engaging and thematically diverse presentations were in the line-up, although the diversity of domains of application did not necessarily mean immediate directional friction. Names – the “right ones” – remain essential to information transmission that employs human cognition and memorization. Among other fleeting observations, it seemed clear to me that the standard OBO Foundry approach to fixating the meaning of terms is not all that biodiversity informatics needs to integrate taxonomically annotated data. I also think we are at the cusp of separating more clearly and consistently what conventional taxonomic names can achieve for human communication, and what they need to achieve in addition to support scalable computational integration. Two Global Names Architecture presentations (Ellinor Michel and David Patterson, respectively) pointed that way. To what extent the “additional layer” for logic integration is needed, and justified by apparent representational and infrastructural costs, was an underlying theme of the conference. In other words – progress.

Franz. 2014. Explaining taxonomy’s legacy to computers – how and why? from taxonbytes

Impressions from the Alameda Grand Opening

Some impressions from yesterday’s Grand Opening of the newly renovated and now fully functional Alameda space for the ASU School of Life Sciences Natural History Collections, Informatics & Outreach Group. The event was attended by more than 200 illustrious guests from ASU and the greater community. A wonderful opportunity to showcase how the collections are now positioned to promote biodiversity research and learning. A set of photos from the event is linked here.

The State Press: ASU Alameda opening puts natural history on display

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