ERIC Forum Appointment

LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technical Officer, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, will join the ERIC Forum Executive Board from today, Wednesday 5 February. This comes as recognition of his long-standing personal commitment to the ERIC Forum and within the related H2020 project, particularly his efforts to increase synergies among the ERICs. LifeWatch ERIC warmly congratulates Juan Miguel on his election.

The ERIC Forum Assembly announced the new leadership team as part of their two-day meeting in Brussels. The new Chair is John Womersley (Director General, European Spallation Source ERIC) and the new Vice Chair is Anton Ussi (Operations and Finance Director, EATRIS-ERIC). The Chairs, appointed for one year, are responsible for the strategic planning of the Forum, relations with the European Commission, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and other stakeholders.

Juan Miguel will be representative for the environmental cluster of ERICs, as one of three new members on the Executive Board who will support the work of the Chairs. The other two appointments are Franciska de Jong (Executive Director, CLARIN ERIC) for the social sciences cluster and Wolfgang Fecke (Director General, EU-OPENSCREEN) for the life sciences. 

Former Chair of the ERIC Forum (2018), Juan Miguel holds a Telecommunication Engineering Degree, a PhD and a European MBA on Industrial Organisation & Enterprise Management. Experienced in co-ordinating Research Infrastructures in Spain and across Europe, he is a long-time supporter of the Horizon 2020 Digital Agenda, and he was also member of the e-IRG e-Infrastructure Reflection Group, EU-CELAC & MED international initiatives, among others. He was also Ministry delegate to the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), which John Womersley confirmed would be one of the new Executive Board’s priorities.

Please check the ERIC Forum Official Press Release for more details.

Transfiere 2020

Transfiere 2020

Transfiere is the biggest professional and multi-sectoral forum for knowledge and technology transfer to take place in Spain. On 12-13 February, the Palace of Fairs and Congress in Málaga FYCMA witnessed the gathering of the most relevant players in the national and international Research & Development & Innovation ecosystem, at Transfiere 2020.

Being part of Transfiere 2020 allowed the 1,600 participants to build networks of contacts, synergies and knowledge sharing in fields as diverse as Artificial intelligence and digital transformation, Public Administration, Internationalisation opportunities, and Investment and Open innovation. 

At the LifeWatch ERIC stand, Giovanna Caputi, National Nodes Operations Manager, and Cristina Huertas-Olivares, International Initiatives and Projects Manager, interacted with delegates and disseminated information on the Infrastructure’s potential to facilitate interdisciplinary research in biodiversity and ecosystems.  

In parallel, working meetings were held on new Workflows & VRE developments at the University of Málaga-Picasso HPC, part of LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core premises. Their coordinator, LifeWatch ERIC CTO Juan Miguel González-Aranda welcomed participants from LW ERIC international ICT Team, and introduced Professors Emilio López Zapata & José F. Aldana also considered reputed experts on HPC, Big Data & Artificial Intelligence at international level, who supported at technical level during the different sessions.

Felipe Romera, president of the Organising Committee of Transfiere 2020, was pleased that the two days of “much intensity” had provided a valuable meeting place for the Spanish innovation system and strategic sectors of the economy, both public and private.

You can read about Transfiere 2021 here.

Collaboration opportunities in the Arctic

LifeWatch ERIC participated in the second Board Meeting of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) at the invitation of the Swedish CAFF Chairmanship. The meeting, held on February 3-6, 2020 at the Gällivare Folkets Hus in Sweden, was attended by the LifeWatch ERIC e-infrastructure operation coordinator, Antonio José Sáenz-Albanés. 

CAFF is the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council, established in 1996 as a high-level governmental forum to address issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic. LifeWatch ERIC is involved in the CAFF Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI).

LifeWatch ERIC supports AMBI in many ways, hosting in its Spanish premises the offices of the Coordinator of the African Eurasian Flyway, which seeks to improve the conservation and management of shorebird sites along their migration paths from the Arctic down to Africa, and supporting AMBI objectives and its engagement within the African continent and in particular in Guinea-Bissau.

As the Board Meeting progressed however, it became clear that Arctic ecosystems are facing challenges that LifeWatch ERIC is already addressing elsewhere, such as Arctic Invasive Alien Species for example, thus opening up further possibilities to collaborate and add value to a wide range of issues.

In this context, when Antonio José Sáenz-Albanés gave a presentation on LifeWatch ERIC’s state-of-art of ICT developments in Data FAIRness and workflows, some still under construction and deployment, and commitments to dealing with environmental hot topics, it was warmly welcomed. 

The last day provided the opportunity to learn first-hand about the application of indigenous knowledge in managing biodiversity and ecosystem services by the Sámi people, also known as Saami or Lapps, who are native to northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola peninsula of Russia.

North and West Africa vertebrate observation dataset

PORBIOTA dataset

PORBIOTA/LifeWatch Portugal has made available a new vertebrate observation and distribution dataset of North and West Africa, which is now accessible through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and GBIF.PT. 

The dataset comprises information on fishes, amphibians, reptiles and mammals mostly from the deserts and arid regions of North and West Africa, especially from the Sahara and Sahel ecoregions, including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal and Tunisia. It also includes a few scattered observations from Armenia, Greece, Iran, Malawi, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey. 

These data span a temporal scope of about 18 years (1999 to 2017), and were collected by the BIODESERTS Research Group of the Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources-Research Network in Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology (Associate Laboratory), University of Porto (CIBIO-InBIO), under the coordination of José Carlos Brito, who also has credit for the photograph.

Records were obtained mainly using random sampling procedures, by visual encounter surveys. The species’ identification was confirmed by molecular marker analyses and observations were published in scientific journals. It was possible to identify an overall 5 364 occurrence: 2 493 for Reptilia, 1 838 for Mammalia, 794 for Amphibia and 239 for Actinopterygii.  

For more information and data set please click here.


ENVRI Week 2020

The ENVRI-FAIR project brings together 26 Research Infrastructures to build sustainable, transparent and trustworthy data services compliant with FAIR principles. Once a year, ENVRI Week is dedicated to Environmental Research Infrastructures so that Working Parties can report on progress and seek guidance on future developments. ENVRI Week 2020 was held in Dresden, Germany, from 3-7 February and attracted 40 participants. Morning plenary presentations broke into parallel sessions in the afternoon to address the requirements of the four subdomains: Atmosphere, Marine, Solid Earth and Terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity.  

For the first time a training event for data centre staff was featured, entitled ‘Terminologies for ENVRIs: Why, What & How’, presented by Clement Jonquet (University of Montpellier) and Markus Stocker (Knowledge Infrastructures research group), and also made available on Zoom.

WP6 of the Ecosystem & Biodiversity subdomain was tasked with providing relevant training materials. Maggie Hellström (ICOS) detailed the training needs analysis, the preparation of materials and the operation of the common platform. Lucia Vaira (LifeWatch ERIC) presented the improved user interface of the ENVRI-FAIR training catalogue populated with training resources and materials related to FAIR Data Principles and Research Data Management, graded by difficulty level, and emphasised the need to create a feedback group to test and expand the catalogue. 

Nicola Fiore (LifeWatch ERIC) guided participants through the ENVRI Community Training Platform resources, from Species Distribution Modelling to serious games, and from the ‘Why, What and How’ programme, to the ENVRI-LifeWatch ERIC International Summer School Data Fairness, a new edition of which will be offered in 2020. 

LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre Director Alberto Basset reported back to the plenary on the progress made in WP11 and Task Force experts from the Research Infrastructures present worked together to set objectives for the coming year. ENVRI Week demonstrated that European Research Institutes share the ideals of groundbreaking research, empowering users, democratised science, and improved data discoverability. 

ASSEMBLE Plus Transnational Programme


ASSEMBLE Plus has issued a call to academics and researchers to submit proposals for the Transnational Access programme, which offers sponsorship of successful applicants for up to 30 days to carry out research in their marine biological stations.
ASSEMBLE Plus is a consortium of organisations from 16 countries operating under the umbrella of the European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC-ERIC) and offers access to over 30 marine biological institutions across Europe, complete with travel and subsistence, under Horizon 2020 funding. The deadline for this seventh call for applications is 24 April 2020.  

The ASSEMBLE Plus Transnational Access programme provides access to ecosystems (including research vessels and diving facilities), biological resources, technology platforms (molecular imaging, structural and chemical analysis), experimental facilities and e-Services (data sets, analysis, computing and storage). The window of access to research infrastructures is between April and September 2020.  

To qualify for access to facilities, platforms, laboratories, travel, accommodation allowances and shipping costs of project material back to the home institution, applicants should be PhDs, postdoc researchers or engineers in teams of up to two, working or studying in recognised institutions in the European Union with an innovative project proposal. 

Transnational means that the main applicant must be based in a county different from that of the selected access provider. For more information, click here for the website