Biodiversity loss & extinction crisis

LifeWatch ERIC: the web based hub for biodiversity and ecosystem research connecting science across Europe

The warnings of 15.000 scientists, the United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) and now the UN Global Assessment Study clearly demonstrate that humanity is bringing our life support system, the biosphere, to the point of collapse. Counteracting the current loss of biodiversity and the accelerating rate of species extinctions must become our highest-priority, not only for ecological and environmental reasons, but because the ecological collapse of the biosphere is already a major underlying cause of poverty, increasing social inequalities, growing global economic uncertainty, and conflicts over access to crucial natural resources, like clean water, food, air and energy supplies.

The first steps in tackling this crisis must be to improve our current level of knowledge, to move beyond the present fragmentation of science, and to foster greater complementarity and synergy between disciplines, by developing new inter-disciplinary paradigms and starting to build synthetic knowledge, so as to boost innovation and involve more young scientists and civil society.

LifeWatch ERIC is Europe’s first line of response to this emergency, applying and advancing ICT technologies, web networks, interconnecting scientific communities and research centres internationally into its web-based research infrastructure.

LifeWatch ERIC

  1. provides access to data collected by science at a global level and offers ICT services, tools, computational power and storage capacity to transform information into new knowledge;
  2. connects and brings together physical observatories, research centres and scientific communities into a single web space accessible to all; in doing so
  3. offers emerging and developing countries, that often suffer from a lack of funding and facilities, the resources to enact their own innovative scientific approach; and
  4. empowers citizens to engage with science and contribute to their own well-being and survival.

LifeWatch Italy

LifeWatch Italy

Italy is a founding member of LifeWatch ERIC and has always been strongly supported by a broad and transdisciplinary national scientific community. The involvement of the Italian scientific community resulted in the establishment of a Joint Research Unit, coordinated and led by the National Research Council (CNR). The JRU is composed of 34 active members, including high level institutions, scientific academies, national research institutes, international organisations, 20 universities, regional agencies, and an array of consortia and corporations (please see here for the full list). The prominence, quantity and diversity of our members represent the foundation of a national network that is pre-eminently capable of tackling the key topics of scientific debates of our days: biodiversity, ecosystems and e-Science.

Since its establishment in 2010, LifeWatch Italy has created the national e-Science infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research. Today, thanks to the ambitious LifeWatchPLUS project freshly granted by the Ministry for Education, Universities and Research (MIUR) with an investment of about 8 million euros in only three years, LifeWatch Italy is working to reinforce its national Infrastructure. Thanks to this action, LW-ITA will be capable of providing unprecedented computational power to advance the application of semantic resources, and the elaboration of data & metadata. This investment specifically aims at providing tools and platforms to support citizen science & education initiatives, while ensuring at the same time a tremendous expansion in the Infrastructure’s communication ability, which will soon include an advanced multimedia production centre and a museum. The latter makes it possible to virtually visit four types of ecosystems (mountain, semi-arid, polar and coastal/marine) accessing research data, information sheets, multimedia and 3D contents, supported by learning tools presented as serious games.

To find out more, please visit www.lifewatchitaly.eu.

HIRING LW ERIC Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

LifeWatch ERIC has opened a position for its Chief Technology Officer.

Job description and vacancy available below. All vacancies are stored on www.lifewatch.eu/work-with-us.

I./ Job Description 

JOB TITLE: Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

LOCATION: LifeWatch ERIC Statutory Seat premises in Seville (Spain).

POSITION: Full-time, four-year term with a possible extension of another four years.

II/ Main accountabilities

  1. She/he will be in responsible for the consolidation of the “start-up” (first 4-years period) activities and early technical (including distributed ICT) developments based on LifeWatch ERIC needs and requirements.
  2. During this startup phase, she/he will identify and then provide fundamentals of technology blocks and platforms to be used, and also help LifeWatch ERIC visualize its “products” being based on the available resources and assets.
  3. She/he will advise and support CEO and rest of Directors to understand business opportunities because of the dynamics of change (knowledge of existing and emerging technologies), making sure that best practices are defined and followed by LifeWatch ERIC distributed technical teams. She/he will work in tightly collaboration with the Director of the distributed ICT Core e-Infrastructure who is responsible of the coordination and management of the distributed ICT Core construction operations.
  4. Therefore, she/he should be able to evaluate multiple technologies and identify those that best fit LifeWatch ERIC as technology selection should come from a deep understanding through a pragmatic approach, a long term strategic vision, rather than following the latest trend.
  5. She/he will ensure that LifeWatch ERIC technical developments comply with appropriate quality requirements, ethical legal and societal norms and principles in order to be further provided through the so-called Common Facilities (Statutory Seat and ICT e-Infrastructure Technical Offices, Service Centre and the Virtual Laboratories and Innovation Centre) and rest of Distributed Facilities. This activity will be performed in tightly collaboration with their Directors.
  6. She/he will be appointed for a four-year period and can be also re-appointed. In both cases, retirement date[1] must be later to the end of the contract. A competitive salary, based on the qualifications and experience of the candidate, will be offered. Employment will be in Spain and follow Spanish employment law.
  7. This position is a full-time job. Her/his main office will be located at the administrative headquarters of the ERIC in Seville, being supported by the rest of the above cited distributed facilities.
  8. She/he will ensure the technological updating on ICT innovations of the ERIC ICT developments and its European and global expansion, particularly in tightly connection with the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) initiative, while ensuring action and provision of e-Services, including the development of products at different geographical scales.
  9. She/he shall be the technical representative of LifeWatch ERIC on ICT issues and committed to build strong and effective European and further international relationships on ICT technological-related issues, with a broad range of ICT stakeholders within and outside the ERIC, particularly the Research (e-)Infrastructures identified on the roadmaps of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and established ERICs through the so-called ERIC FORUM,  and other relevant ICT initiatives from other continents.
  10. She/he will support the in kind contributions Evaluation Committee in regards to the valuation of ICT developments as “in kind” contributions.
  11. She/he will be Member of the LifeWatch ERIC Executive Board.

II/ The ideal candidate should meet the following requirements

  1. Have a higher university degree or equivalent qualifications on Information and Telecommunication. Ph.D. and/or MBA on Organization and Management Engineering is desirable.
  2. At least 12 years’ accredited professional experience on international cooperation projects and initiatives on environmental and high-level institutional domains in the said areas of ICT and research policy frameworks, including European Research e-Infrastructures policies and recommendations implementation.
  3. Accredited professional experience in the area of biodiversity and ecosystem research bioinformatics as technical director or leader of the design, construction, deployment and operational maintenance of research infrastructures facilities in centres, universities or agencies or equivalent public policy units.
  4. Accredited professional experience on managerial and technical implementation issues related to EU funding instruments, particularly R&I Framework Programmes and European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).
  5. Accredited professional experience and participation in initiatives concerning the construction and deployment of European Research Infrastructure Consortia (ERIC) and strategic ICT-related particularly the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).
  6. Have understanding of current and emerging agendas and challenges on ICT developments, and in particular experience in project-based approaches concerning the design, construction and operational maintenance of distributed ICT developments.
  7. Have proven organization, management and communicative skills.
  8. Accredited knowledge on the Spanish (ERIC Hosting Member State) administrative system, although not a requirement, should be taken into consideration.
  9. Knowledge of English language, the working language of LifeWatch ERIC under article 1.3 of its Statutes. Knowledge of other European languages although not a requirement, should be taken into consideration.
  10. Availability to travel abroad based on the specific working needs of the position.

III/ The call for interest is subject to the following procedure:

  1. To submit a short application letter, and Curriculum Vitae (EUROPASS format, 6 pages at most[2]), should be submitted to the Chair of the LifeWatch ERIC General Assembly gert.verreet@lifewatch.eu with also Cc to the CEO ceo@lifewatch.eu[3]. Closing date for receipt of applications: June 15th, 2019.
  2. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted directly by the LifeWatch ERIC Chair of the General Assembly as Chair of the Recruitment Committee.
  3. Candidates may be called for an interview with the LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer Recruitment Committee. This Recruitment Committee[4] will provide the CEO with a short-list of a maximum of three candidates, and a summary of the information supporting its decision and the qualifications of the different candidates. The CEO will select the candidate awarding the position, and will report to the General Assembly on his decision and the overall selection procedure.
  4. Start date in office for the appointed Director: September 1st, 2019.

[1] 65 years-old in Spain.

[2] The candidates are kindly advised to submit an annex with all the sources (e.g. lists of: dissertations, publications, events attended, etc.) that address the above 10 requirements.

[3] Special note for Italian market: According to Italian Privacy Protection Law n. 196/03 any resume not mentioning explicitly the following wording: ‘I authorize the use of my personal data in accordance with Italian Privacy Protection Law (30/06/2003, n. 196/03)’ will be automatically deleted from our database and consequently not taken into consideration.

[4] Composed by the Chair of the General Assembly, CEO, and at least another representative of the Executive Board of Directors.

LifeWatch Spain

LifeWatch Spain

The LifeWatch ERIC Statutes foresee the creation of National Nodes, which in Spain has been translated into the creation of the Joint Research Unit LifeWatch Spain (JRU – LW.ES) in 2014. This entity brings together several organizations and institutions carrying out research, development, and innovation (R&D&I) activities in the biodiversity and ecology fields. Among others, to date, the JRU – LW.ES counts on the participation of Public Research Organizations, The Spanish National Research Council, International Excellence Campuses and Universities, the Ministries of Agriculture, Fishing and Food and Ecological Transition, Environment Technology and Innovation Parks and Institutions, Regional and Local Authorities, and Port Authorities. These organizations have expressed their interest in integrating into a network of excellence to promote biodiversity research, addressing major environmental challenges, and supporting knowledge-based strategic solutions for environmental preservation. Thus, the Spanish community supporting LifeWatch is structured by its Joint Research Unit, which is composed of more than 30 institutions of diverse nature.

At present, the Spanish community provides LifeWatch with three virtual research environments: 1) LIFE+RESPIRA. The main objective of this Project is to demonstrate that it is possible to improve the quality of life in European cities through the use of new technologies, combined with specific urban planning and management measures (http://www.liferespira.eu); 2) Deep Learning & Citizen Science LifeWatch, which provides computing resources to Citizen Science initiatives aimed at bringing Biodiversity research and IT closer to the people. Natusfera allows users to take georeferenced pictures of animals and plants that can be identified by experts, thereby creating a collaborative biodiversity map (http://deep.ifca.es); 3) SWIRL (Scenario-based Water Innovation and Research Laboratory), an e-infrastructure that was developed to respond to water resource management challenges, offering accessibility and traceability of data as well as a platform for cooperation (https://swirlvre.eu/). Finally, in 2018, thanks to funding from the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, the Spanish Network of Excellence was launched. The main objectives of this network are to support and boost the activities within the JRU LW.ES, and thus, ultimately contribute to LifeWatch ERIC’s objectives.

LifeWatch Slovenia

LifeWatch-SI

The Slovenian Research Infrastructure Roadmap 2011-2020 (Revised 2016), listed LifeWatch among the international RI projects in the field of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Technology. Slovenian researchers cooperating in this project are aiming to raise the Slovenian science to an internationally comparable level in Environmental sciences. The project is part of Slovenian Strategy for Smart Specialization (S4) and Horizon 2020, focusing on the development of technological solutions in the field of biodiversity and socio-ecosystem research.

Founded in 2015, the Slovenian Consortium LifeWatch-SI advocates  the importance of integrating and networking information & data to: (i) combine biodiversity research in marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems; (ii) plan common access to vast arrays of data from various databases and observatories; (iii) predict computing capabilities with analytical and modeling tools in VLs; and (iv) support training and programs that will enable proper understanding of biodiversity.

The LifeWatch-SI consortium consists of nine partners of nationally and internationally recognized scientific institutions and NGOs, very active in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem research, with the Karst Research Institute at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU) as a national coordinator and headquarters. Last year, LifeWatch Slovenia started active  collaboration with several LifeWatch ERIC working groups  and co-organized the 1st working meeting on Data Centres, in December 13-14, 2018, in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

LifeWatch Belgium

Belgium contributes to LifeWatch with varied and complementary “in-kind” contributions. These are implemented under the form of long-lasting projects by different research centers and universities spread over the country and supported by each respective political authority.

In a nutshell, access to regional and global biodiversity data systems is facilitated by means of several data services (Belgian LifeWatch E-lab), data publication to (Eur)OBIS and GBIF,  marine and non-marine data archaeology and the construction of a local marine-freshwater-terrestrial observatory.

central Taxonomic Backbone combines taxonomic, biogeographical, trait and genomic data and disseminates this via web services.

LifeWatch Belgium is also the driving force behind the LifeWatch Marine Virtual Research Environment (VRE), the gateway to marine data resources and services related to the European LifeWatch infrastructure.

Four ecosystem dynamic descriptors are derived from satellite images. Their weekly average profiles are calculated at an European scale. Furthermore, a database describing homogeneous units of the landscape, ecotopes, has been developed.

Biodiversity.aq is building an Antarctic Biodiversity Information System (AntaBIS), as a thematic LifeWatch virtual laboratory.

The Barcoding facility for Organisms and tissues of Policy Concern (BopCo) project is setting up a virtual laboratory that uses molecular techniques to identify unknown biological material to species/population level.

Ph. Credits Photo Gallery / Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee (VLIZ)

LifeWatch Greece

LifeWatch Greece

The LifeWatch Greece Research Infrastructure was funded by the Greek General Secretariat of Research and Technology (GSRT) under the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) (ESFRI, MIS 384676) and coordinated by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) – Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture (IMBBC). A total of 47 Research Institutes and Academic Departments participate as associated partners.

The overall objective of LifeWatch Greece is to develop and fulfil the vision for the Greek LifeWatch RI and to establish it as the biodiversity Centre of Excellence for South-eastern Europe, contributing with specific services to the European LifeWatch and other international users.

Following the successful construction and implementation of LifeWatch Greece RI, a series of services and virtual laboratories (vLabs) have been released in the LifeWatch Greece portal, such as the Data Services, the RvLab, the Medobis vLab and the MicroCT vLab.

In addition, a LifeWatch Greece Special Collection was published in the Biodiversity Data Journal, describing the development of the relevant electronic infrastructure and the software applications, a series of taxonomic checklists compiled under the Greek Taxon Information System, as well as a section of data papers presenting historical and original datasets of environmental and biodiversity data.

The multidisciplinary approach of LifeWatchGreece aims to support the potential needs regarding the mobilisation, analysis and sharing of biodiversity datasets, not only for the scientific community, but also for the broader domain of biodiversity management.

LifeWatch Greece continues as an RI to to contribute to LifeWatch ERIC and to participate to its multiple events. It also contributes to a few more, such as CMBR, ELIXIR_GR, BioImaging_GR.

LifeWatch ERIC and EMSO ERIC sign MoU

LifeWatch ERIC & EMSO ERIC sign MoU

LifeWatch ERIC and the European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and Water-Column Observatory (EMSO ERIC) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen cooperation between the two infrastructures. They have agreed to join forces in designing and implementing ambitious joint research projects and collaborative initiatives, which will result in positive outcomes for the both related research areas. The MoU was signed by Jesús Miguel Santamaría, for LifeWatch ERIC, and Juanjo Dañobeitia, for EMSO ERIC.

With the MoU, LifeWatch ERIC and EMSO ERIC commit to fostering the use of common standards and protocols, exploring opportunities to further promote common free open access data and software policy, and advancing interoperability. They will establish synergies with the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), Copernicus and other pan European-international programmes and initiatives, and identify and implement collaborative projects of mutual interest. 

In greater detail, the two infrastructures will collaborate on the definition, development and integration of new parameters, instruments and methods for multi-disciplinary observation, addressing either biotic or abiotic parameters. They will also initiate joint actions to promote Ocean Literacy, and launch the new Citizen Science programmes.

Moreover, LifeWatch ERIC and EMSO ERIC will work together to lobby and advise government policy makers and funding bodies on environmental Grand Challenges themes, reinforce industry liaisons, and establish a mechanism to secure their continued maintenance and improvement of cooperation to meet common goals.

LifeWatch ERIC and EMSO ERIC are already operational and working to establish within the next three months, as a first step, a Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC), which will draft an action plan identifying specific research or technology development areas for collaboration.

ABOUT LifeWatch ERIC  

LifeWatch ERIC is a European Infrastructure Consortium that provides e-Science research facilities to scientists who seek to increase our knowledge and deepen our understanding of Biodiversity organisation and Ecosystem functions and services. It is a distributed research infrastructure with central components, Common Facilities, located in three Member States, and national branches in six countries.

LifeWatch ERIC’s purpose is to tackle the constraints affecting research activities and the pressing need for increasingly diverse data sets and larger and more advanced models. Through the use of open data and open science clouds, LifeWatch ERIC makes it possible to explore new frontiers in ecological science and support society in addressing the challenges ahead. LifeWatch ERIC avails itself of High-Performance, Grid and Big Data computing systems, and develops advanced modelling tools to implement management measures aimed at preserving life on Earth.

Contact details

Sara Montinaro
sara.montinaro[@]lifewatch.eu
+39 0832 29 48 18

ABOUT EMSO ERIC

The European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water-column Observatory (EMSO) is a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) which provides data infrastructure for continuous, high-resolution, (near-)real-time, ocean observations across a multidisciplinary range of research including biogeochemical, physics, engineering, and computer science. EMSO – a large-scale environmental European Research Infrastructure (RI) on the ESFRI Roadmap – analyses the water column from the surface down to the abyss and the sub-seafloor, and from polar to subtropical environments. It has eight deep-sea and three shallow Regional Facilities, deployed across the North Atlantic and through the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. EMSO makes fundamental contributions to our understanding of key environmental processes like climate change, marine biodiversity and natural hazards, and in the long-term vision of creating the European Ocean Observing System (EOOS) will play a key role providing on site observations for the COPERNICUS earth observation program.

Contact details

Alessandra Giuntini
alessandra.giuntini[@]ingv.it
+39 06 51860644