Collaborative Research: SCIPE: Enhancing the Transdisciplinary Research Ecosystem for Earth and Environmental Science with Dedicated Cyber Infrastructure Professionals

UMBC News Feature

UMBC Award #2321009

UMCES Award #2321008


In this age of big data, cutting-edge Earth and Environmental Science research increasingly requires Cyber Infrastructure (CI) expertise. Prior advances, including the prediction of climate change, the role and importance of biodiversity, and changes in the condition of oceans and fisheries, were all underpinned by the collection, organization, and analysis of massive quantities of data derived from advanced sensors and models. Increased data throughput in analysis pipelines has spurred advances in artificial intelligence, forecasting models, and reliance on scientific computing. Maintaining these cutting-edge research programs requires constant CI innovation, including collaboration with experts trained to innovate in findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable data and analysis. Identifying solutions to the world?s most pressing environmental problems requires that CI experts collaborate with researchers, science communicators, environmental agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. This project will create this network through development of a CyberCollaboratory, where interdisciplinary groups across institutions can collaborate with Cyber Infrastructure Professionals (CIPs), leveraging high-performance and cloud computing, open data science, and geospatial analytics, in facilitated, scalable, and cyber-supported virtual and in-person spaces. The CyberCollaboratory is a collaboration between the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). The project will have a broad impact on the research-facing CIP community, offer opportunities for training diverse groups of students from UMBC Information Systems to engage with applied Earth and Environmental Science research, and support these professionals as they grow into a foundational component of the environmental research, policy, and management community. We will develop a knowledge portal that provides opportunities to extend the impact of this project beyond UMCES and UMBC to academic partnerships elsewhere that are also engaging in CI professionalization.

This project is developing and supporting a team of CIPs that integrates seamlessly with our diverse research enterprise. Through an inter-institutional partnership between UMCES and UMBC Information Systems the project will accelerate the development of open data science, software tools, integrated ecosystem models, and machine learning applications; engage faculty, students, and environmental management agencies (and other stakeholders) in co-development research training; and staff a ticket-based help desk. UMCES and UMBC will collaboratively: (1) Build a diverse workforce of CIPs responsive to the needs of the multi-institutional and stakeholder-inclusive environmental research community to which UMCES and UMBC contribute; (2) Develop a hub, with physical and virtual components, that facilitates interactions among domain researchers, CIPs, and other stakeholders, including opportunities for CI skills training and team science training; and (3) Establish the CyberCollaboratory as a robust and pervasive source for CI expertise and collaboration. The CI team will adapt to evolving research priorities enabled by the co-development process but will initially support four active projects at UMBC and UMCES: (a) Harnessing data and model revolution in the polar regions (iHARP); (b) Developing a nutrient information system for agricultural sustainability; (c) Ecological forecasting for evaluating restoration actions in estuaries, and (d) Understanding the ecological consequences of expanding offshore wind energy generation