ENVRI Community International Summer School is back in person!

ISS2022_news

We are delighted to announce the 2022 edition of the ENVRI Community International Summer School. And this summer, we are back in person! 

The Summer School, now at its fifth edition, is organised by ENVRI-FAIR and LifeWatch ERIC and will take place in Lecce, Italy, from 10–15 July. This edition’s title is “Road to a FAIR ENVRI-Hub: Designing and Developing Data Services for End Users”, and it will cover topics such as user interfaces, packaging of services, reusability and validation of services, and building and supporting networks through the lens of the ENVRI-Hub approach. 

This School is therefore mainly aimed at IT architects, Research Infrastructure (RI) service developers and user support staff, and RI staff working on user interaction and community/network building.

The Summer School will welcome participants on the afternoon of Sunday 10 July with an opening event, while the actual School programme will last from Monday to Friday afternoon, closing with a certificate ceremony. Two online webinars are also planned to take place in the third and fourth week of June on specific use cases, in preparation for the School or to attend as stand-alone sessions.

The outline of the School programme is as follows:

  1. Introducing the ENVRI-Hub (concept and architecture)
  2. Learning to know your end users and their expectations: requirements elicitation
  3. Create high quality documentation and usage examples to support service end users
  4. Developing Services and Fostering Reusability/Interoperability among them
  5. Validating and evaluating your services
  6. Participants’ Presentations, School Evaluation and Certificates

Successful applicants to “Road to a FAIR ENVRI-Hub: Designing and Developing Data Services for End Users” will be offered full board in the beautiful baroque city of Lecce in Southern Italy, and will be invited to “extracurricular” activities such as restaurant dinners and excursions in the surrounding area. 

Interested persons are invited to apply by 30 May by filling in the sign-up form here. Follow LifeWatch ERIC and ENVRI Community updates!

You can access the dedicated minisite with more detailed information on the School here.

Introducing the EBES Master’s Diary

EBES Master's

In the Spring Term of 2022, LifeWatch ERIC will be funding a three-month internship abroad for three students, Martina, Marco and Ludovico, of the e-Biodiversity and Ecosystem Sciences Master’s degree (EBES) at the University of Salento, which is supported by LifeWatch ERIC.

Thanks to this dedicated LifeWatch ERIC internship programme, the students will be going to the Ionian University in Corfu, where they will be given the chance to apply the skills they have developed during their studies, carrying out research for their dissertations and gaining experience in the university labs. Individually, Martina, Marco and Ludovico will be focusing on using text mining to extract information on spatial and ecological traits of freshwater fishes, using a modelling approach to investigate the reasons a species population stays heterogenous, and building user-friendly citizen science applications with the aim of monitoring natural ecosystems. You can follow all three of the students’ journeys throughout their experience in Corfu by watching their Master’s Diary, which they will be updating periodically – subscribe to our YouTube channel to ensure you never miss an update! 

The EBES Master’s Degree e-Biodiversity and Ecosystem Sciences (EBES) is the newest curriculum available within the Master of Coastal and Marine Biodiversity and Ecology degree, designed to provide trans-disciplinary knowledge and skill sets for a new generation of ecologists proficient in data science, modelling and eco-informatics. It is a two-year programme at the University of Salento, entirely taught in English, allowing students to gain highly specialised instruction on biological and ecological sciences,ecological modelling and ecological informatics technologies. The course was created as current global challenges call for a deeper understanding of ecological phenomena at various levels of scale, to identify patterns and underlying mechanisms of biodiversity organisation and ecosystem functioning, and design scenarios of future change. 

For more information about the EBES Master’s Degree, please see the dedicated webpage of the University of Salento, or download the PDF here.

International Women’s Day 2022: Emilia Chiancone

Emilia Chiancone

For International Women’s Day 2022, we at LifeWatch ERIC are putting eight scientists in the spotlight. Each of the LifeWatch ERIC member states has proposed a figure who has broken boundaries over the course of her lifetime, and is an inspiration to younger generations looking to pursue a career in STEM.

As we explored in the podcast we recorded for The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, women are still underrepresented in various scientific fields, such as engineering, computer science and AI. Additionally, scientific research in general is not only unbalanced in terms of composition (33% female) but also in terms of hierarchy, with only 12% of national science academy members being women, who are disproportionately overlooked when it comes to promotion and grants.

The women at the centre of our campaign are very diverse, hailing from a range of countries and time periods, but they all have one thing in common: overcoming the odds in order to contribute to scientific improvement. We want to draw attention to just a fraction of the women who have defied the cultural barriers pitted against them to bring good to the world, and bring recognition where they might have been overlooked. 

Born in Bari in 1938, the late Emilia Chiancone was Professor Emeritus of Molecular Biology at the “Sapienza” University of Rome and the first woman to become President of the Italian Academy of Sciences. Looking back at Chiancone’s life, we are inspired by the story of a prominent Italian scientist who, throughout her life, continuously broke barriers in terms of gender, and knocked down boundaries between disciplines.

Having graduated in Milan in Biological sciences, she moved to Rome which became the centre of her career. Together with the Nobel laureate Rita Levi Montalcini, Cecilia Saccone and Virginia Volterra, Emilia Chiancone was one of the first women to lead an Institute of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR), the Centre of Investigation on Molecular Biology, which under her guidance developed into the Institute of Molecular Biology and Pathology, which she chaired from 2002 to 2008. In 2007 she received the Antonio Feltrinelli Award for Biological Sciences from the Accademia dei Lincei, and in 2015, the Italian Society of Science History gave her its Lifetime Achievement Award for her commitment to the dissemination of science, once again the only woman recognised with this honour. Altogether, she authored over 200 publications in international journals, several monographs and two patents, gaining recognition for her studies on the evolution of the allosteric regulatory mechanisms of enzymes.

From 2011 until her passing, Chiancone was the first female President of the Italian Academy of Sciences, characterising her mandates with a series of initiatives which were positively welcomed by both the scientific community and wider society. She put a special emphasis on scientific dissemination, a pertinent example being  the organisation alongside the CNR of “Wheats&Women international conference – Carlotta Award 2018”. Despite a career in biochemistry, it was under her presidency that the National Academy of Sciences joined LifeWatch Italy in 2012; her commitment was valuable and unwavering, and permanently marked the story of this infrastructure. In her final years, she worked tirelessly to foster the connection between science and society, the participation of students in research projects and a focus on science in schools. Together with CNR and LifeWatch Italy, she was the promoter and organiser of a number of citizen science initiatives, among which the TrovaPiante di Villa Torlonia (an interactive multimedia guide to identify local flora), a complete guide to the rich flora of the metropolitan area of Rome (including over 1600 infrageneric taxa), and the first Italian Citizen Science Conference,  “Biodiversity, Networks, Open Science and Platforms”, as part of a prolonged effort to make science more inclusive. An excellent scientist and resolute woman, Emilia Chiancone distinguished herself for her expertise, dedication and commitment – a true role model and inspiration for all those who want to pursue a career in research, particularly young women.

Waterfowl Dataset on LifeWatch Italy portal

Waterfowl dataset

This news item was originally published on LifeWatch Italy.

A dataset on waterfowl has been published on the LifeWatch Italy portal.

Populations of herons and egrets in north-western Italy increased considerably from 1972 to 2000, but then the positive trend started reversing – this change was detected thanks to a 50-year monitoring programme on the nesting populations of 12 species of colonial aquatic birds (Families Ardeidae, Phalacrocoracidae, Plataleidae, Threskiornithidae). The study represents the longest census programme ever carried out in Italy, and one of the most extensive in Europe, comprising an area of 58,000 km2.

The researchers from University of Pavia, CNR-IRSA and collaborators who participated in the monitoring programme believe that the decline in the breeding population is due to changes in rice cultivation practices, which is their main foraging habitat.

The dataset has been deposited and metadated on the LifeWatch Italy portal in compliance with international FAIR standards (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable).

Debut open access paper published in the Biodiversity Data Journal

Biodiversity Data Journal

The “LifeWatch ERIC Collection of Data and Services Papers” published in the Biodiversity Data Journal is dedicated to the resources and assets developed, upgraded and used during the implementation of the Internal Joint Initiative (IJI), our flagship project focused non-indigenous and invasive species (NIS). The first open-access data paper in this series was published on 25 January 2022, entitled “An individual-based dataset of carbon and nitrogen isotopic data of Callinectes sapidus in invaded Mediterranean waters” (Di Muri et al.).

The paper presents compiled datasets of isotopic signatures of the Atlantic blue crab and its prey in invaded coastal and transitional habitats. The analysis of these data can be used to calculate the trophic position of the invader, evaluate its adaptation within new ecosystems and investigate changes in the structure and functioning of invaded food webs.

Having already colonised most of the eastern and central Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea in recent decades, the Atlantic blue crab is currently widening its distribution towards the western region of the basin. Its impact within invaded habitats was assessed in a number of studies using stable isotope analysis, and Di Muri et al. have combined the results into a geo-referenced dataset.

The research was carried out within the context of the IJI, more specifically the ‘Crustaceans Workflow’, one of the validation cases used to develop an interdisciplinary Virtual Research Environment that utilises disruptive technologies to deal with the impacts of NIS on European native species, genetic diversity, habitats, ecosystem functioning and services, and to inform current practices in environmental management and policy implementation. Stay tuned for the next paper!

Research Grants at University of Salento

Research Grants

The University of Salento (Puglia, Italy) has published a number of calls for applications for research grants, in association with LifeWatchPLUS and LifeWatch Italy. These include:

  • “Development of geospatial models supporting web services for the study of biodiversity and ecosystem change scenarios” (21/01/22)
  • “Semantic technologies for biodiversity and ecosystem research to support the LifeWatchPLUS distributed Data Centre and the LifeWatch ERIC community” (16/01/22)
  • “Multimedia developments for biodiversity and ecosystem research” (21/01/22)

Please see the LifeWatch Italy Jobs page for more information. To see opportunities available with LifeWatch ERIC, click here.

LifeWatch ERIC Executive Board members to speak at the ‘XXX° Rassegna del mare’

Rassegna del mare

From 21 – 24 October, the Italian city of Gallipoli will host the XXX° Rassegna del mare (30th Festival of the Sea), organised by MareAmico, with the patronage of the Italian National Research Council and the contribution of several LifeWatch ERIC experts, scientists and representatives. This edition, which will be held in-person in compliance with anti-Covid regulations, will be based on the topic “Recognition and protection of the sea and marine resource management”.

With a range of activities taking place, the goal of the event is to raise awareness among institutions (the EU, competent ministries, the Puglia Region and local authorities) on the importance of ocean resources and their management. The round tables will be attended by international experts, who will participate in debates on this edition’s issues and topics.


Among the moderators of the event is Alberto Basset, Director of LifeWatch ERIC’s Service Centre, Manager of the LifeWatch Italy JRU (Joint Research Unit), and member of the Festival’s Organising Committee. On Saturday 23 October, during the round table “Alien Species: from threat to opportunity, the case studies of LifeWatch ERIC on the invasive blue crab (Callinectes sapidus)”, Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC CEO, and Juan Miguel González-Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC CTO, will present the results of the infrastructure’s Internal Joint Initiative on the theme of non-indigenous and invasive species. The work will be summed up in a report, which is going to be discussed in plenary assemblies and further worked on by the MareAmico Scientific Committee. This final document should represent the groundwork for subsequent deliberative and operational decisions.


Recreational and educational areas will be set up for younger participants, who will have the opportunity to participate in activities aimed at raising awareness on environmental issues, mainly concerning marine resources and fishing. Participants and tourists gathering at the stands will get the chance to witness the fish landing, and will be invited to enjoy the show’s cooking events, using local products.

You can read the programme here (in Italian).

EcoLogicaMente

EcoLogicaMente

The EcoLogicaMente platform, developed by LifeWatch Italy in partnership with the Italian Society of Ecology (SItE) and University of Salento (UniSalento), is a web-based tool launched in 2021 to allow visitors to explore a broad range of issues in the field of ecology. 

Primarily addressed to Italian school students and teachers, from Primary through to High School, the in-depth topics contain various types of material including texts, videos, presentations, live lessons, games, questionnaires, and practical activity sheets for work in the field or in the laboratory.

The EcoLogicaMente study topics and materials have been compiled by university professors and experts on ecological issues and are divided into five macro-areas: Ecosystem goods and services, Sustainability, Resource Management, Climate Change, and Biodiversity. 

The courses are divided into different levels all of which require a login, and it is possible to receive a certificate of participation, after completing all the lessons and passing a final test. Support is available through an FAQ page and users can leave a rating of the material available and write reviews. Click here to navigate the platform.

World Conference on Marine Biodiversity 2020

The World Conference on Marine Biodiversity 2020 was successfully presented online between Sunday 13 – Wednesday 15 December 2020, by the University of Auckland, New Zealand. A state-of-the-art virtual conference platform, that facilitated interactive plenary sessions, live panel discussions, filmed presentations, e-posters, a meeting hub and virtual exhibition areas, attracted over 400 participants.  

LifeWatch ERIC was privileged to be able to support the international event as platinum sponsor. Chief Executive Officer Christos Arvanitidis, in a pre-recorded video message broadcast at the start of proceedings, warmly welcomed the participants, wishing them good luck and a great remote conference, inviting them to support the United Nations decade of ocean science for sustainable development and to become part of the LifeWatch ERIC global community.

The CEO’s emphasis on open access data, reproducible analytics and mobilised communities was reinforced by a dedicated webpage offering details of those LifeWatch ERIC products of greatest interest to marine biologists, with the Metadata Catalogue in prime position. National Nodes contributed materials on Micro-CTvLab, RvLab and MedOBIS (Greece), the LifeWatch Species Information Backbone, the Marine Observatory and three Antarctic services (Belgium), and EcoPortal (Italy).

LifeWatch ERIC staff from these member countries were also on hand at the virtual stand during the coffee breaks to maximise human interaction, in spite of the 12-hour time zone difference. The booth created considerable interest, with over 200 visitors overall and 85 downloads of brochures and other links.