iDigBio, NSF's National Resource for Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Austin Mast, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
The billion biodiversity research specimens in US collections represent an irreplaceable source of data for understanding global diversity and emerging environmental and social challenges, such as the extinction crisis and vector-borne disease outbreaks.  Five years ago, the biodiversity research community recognized a critical need to accelerate the rate at which data about these specimens were becoming available in digital form and NSF created the Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections program.  In 2011, NSF funded iDigBio (based at University of Florida and Florida State University) to become the coordinating center for the national digitization effort, which now includes 203 institutions in 50 states and 1 territory.  These institutions collaborate within the framework of 13 Thematic Collections Networks (TCNs), each focused on generating data to address a particular set of research questions.  For example, one of the earliest-funded TCNs is producing the historical baseline for use of lichens and bryophytes as bioassays of air quality.  iDigBio's primary goals include (1) enabling digitization of data through the development of standards and workflows, (2) providing portal access to the data in a cloud-computing environment, (3) facilitating use of the data by researchers, educators, policy makers, and the general public to address environmental and social challenges, and (4) planning for long-term sustainability of the national digitization effort.  As of late 2014, iDigBio had supported over 40 workshops and symposia involving over 1300 people on such topics as increasing workforce diversity, and 15 working groups and 3 interest groups on such topics as engaging the public in digitization.   Also as of late 2014, the iDigBio portal served over 24 million specimen records.  In this poster we will provide an overview of iDigBio's past and future activities with information regarding resources for research and opportunities for collaboration.