Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Last modified: Friday, October 21, 2011

Sustainability focus of $8 million collaboration including IU Informatics, D2I Center researchers

Oct. 21, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's Data to Insight Center (D2I) will share in an anticipated $8 million in funding from the National Science Foundation to advance the science of sustainability through the integration of social science, natural science and environmental data.

Data to Insight Center Director Beth Plale, a professor at IU Bloomington's School of Informatics and Computing, will join principal investigator Margaret Hedstrom of the University of Michigan and three other co-principal investigators -- Praveen Kumar of the University of Illinois, Ann Zimmerman, also of University of Michigan, and James Myers of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in the project that is funded through September 2016.


Members of the SEAD project team are, from left, James Myers (Rensselaer), Praveen Kumar (Illinois), George Alter (Michigan), Kavitha Chandrasekar (IU), Robert H. McDonald (IU), Margaret Hedstrom (Michigan), Bryan Beecher (Michigan), Beth Plale (IU), Jude Yew (Michigan), Ann Zimmerman (Michigan), Robert Ping (IU), Rebecca O'Brien (Michigan), Stacy Kowalczyk (IU), Karen Woolams (Michigan).

Print-Quality Photo

Awarded through NSF's DataNet program, the Sustainable Environment-Actionable Data (SEAD) project will develop tools and services for active curation and longterm preservation of scientific data, while also engaging researchers through social networking tools. SEAD will enable new modalities of sustainability science -- the study of dynamic interactions between nature and society by advancing the science of sustainability through the integration of social science, natural science, and environmental data.

During the first two years of the project the team will work closely with scientists in sustainable land use, water quality, urban planning and agriculture in the Upper Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin.

"Communities carrying out research that contributes to a sustainable planet recognize that further advances of large-scale research questions will require simultaneous advances in data cyberinfrastructure and tools," Plale said. "IU brings substantial interdisciplinary expertise to the table in this regard. In addition, the project will engage the research libraries of the four institutions as a key piece of the solution of longterm preservation."

IU researchers joining Plale on the project are Katy Börner, professor at the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), and Robert H. McDonald, IU Libraries associate dean of Library Technologies and Digital Libraries and associate director at D2I.

Understanding fundamental principles for sustainable societies requires access to large amounts of data on natural phenomena, human behavior and economics, according to Hedstrom.

"To date data have been difficult to obtain and use because disciplines across the natural and social sciences collect, describe and store their data in different ways," Hedstrom says. "The data could have significant value if it were possible to connect the data collectors with potential users, and if it were easy for individuals to search for, aggregate, and maintain valuable data for the long term."

The researchers say SEAD would help address national goals to sustain and improve the environment by developing methodology for investigators to collocate and easily access scientific data. The hope is that SEAD will make real and vitally important contributions to scientists who grapple with environmental issues.

The Data to Insight Center at IU's Pervasive Technology Institute is a collaboration between the IU School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University Libraries, and University Information Technology Services (UITS) at Indiana University.

About DataNet: National Science Foundation's Sustainable Digital Data Preservation and Access Network Partners (DataNet) has funded the following projects, in addition to SEAD: The Data Conservancy: A Digital Research and Curation Virtual Organization, based at Johns Hopkins University; DataONE: Observation Network, based at the University of New Mexico; the DataNet Federation Network based at the University of North Carolina; and Terra Populus: A Global Population/Environment Data Network (TerraPop) based at the University of Minnesota.

For more information contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or