Global Award

British Macrofossils Online wins Data Rescue Award


British Macrofossils Online wins the 2015 International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences, organised by IEDA and Elsevier

European Geosciences Union, General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, 15 April 2015

Vienna, Austria, 15 April 2015 – An Award Ceremony last night at the Austria Centre, during the EGU General Assembly, presented a trophy and $5000 to British Macrofossils Online as the winner of the 2015 International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences. The winning project was developed by the British Geological Survey (www.bgs.ac.uk) to create a fully electronic catalogue of all the fossil collections in UK museums and similar repositories.

The Award aims to improve preservation and access for vulnerable heritage research data in the Earth Sciences, and is a joint initiative of Elsevier (a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services) and IEDA(Interdisciplinary Earth Data Alliance), an NSF-funded data facility in the geosciences at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, USA.

The 2015 competition attracted a record field of projects, ranging from brave solo first attempts to well-supported institution-wide programmes.  Many clearly involved personal time and energy, commitment and courage, determination and foresight.  All strived to make nearly `lost' data readily available to everyone in digital form for deriving new science, or for solving intractable problems for mankind.

Some of the applications were highly innovative (like the small Belgian group's collection of thousands of hand-written or paper measurements of African “sediment yield”, a property which signals changes in ecosystems, erosion, climate and human activity).  Some were major developments of data-rescue programmes (like NASA's recovery to full use of images from the Apollo Moon programme). Some (like building a digital data base of historic hydrological and meteorological data from over 3000 sites or personal archives across Alaska) were noble starts at demonstrating the unquestionable value of bringing all such data into the public domain.  Some were just lucky (like the field scientists who happened to hear of some “old bones” being unearthed by construction excavators near Cerro Ballena in Chile, and discovered a treasury of dinosaur relics).

Sharing stories about the successful recovery of fragile heritage data sets demonstrates the unquestionable value which the older data represent as complements to more modern ones, and encourages the wider pursuit of similar rescue efforts.

The judges’ panel included:

  • Daniel Lovegrove, Elsevier Ltd, Oxford, UK
  • Leslie Hsu, IEDA, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, USA
  • Kerstin Lehnert, IEDA, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, USA
  • David Gallaher, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, USA
  • Helen Glaves, British Geological Survey, UK
  • Elizabeth Griffin, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, National Research Council, Canada
  • Lesley Wyborn, National Computational Infrastructure, Australian National University, Australia
  • Ilya Zaslavsky, San Diego Supercomputer Center, University of California, USA

Further details of the International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences can be found on the website: http://www.elsevier.com/idra2015.

For more information about the initiative, contact organizers: Dan Lovegrove, Publisher, Earth Sciences, Elsevier: d.lovegrove@elsevier.com, or Kerstin Lehnert, Director, IEDA: lehnert@ldeo.columbia.edu

IDRA 2015 Award Winners

Pictured (Middle) Mike P.A. Howe National Geological Repository,
British Geological Survey receiving the award. (Left) Kerstin Lehnert,
Director, IEDA, (Right) Dan Lovegrove, Publisher, Elsevier