Towards the ENVRI Community International Summer School: Webinars on Designing and Developing Data Services for End Users

Data Services for End Users Webinars

In the run-up to the ENVRI Community International Summer School in July, LifeWatch ERIC and ENVRI-FAIR will be organising two webinars on “Designing and Developing Data Services for End Users”. Participation in the webinars can be in preparation for the School or as stand-alone sessions, for those who cannot attend the School, or those who are still considering registering. For more information on the ENVRI Community International Summer School “Road to a FAIR ENVRI-Hub: Designing and Developing Data Services for End Users”, please visit the dedicated minisite.

The webinars are particularly aimed at IT architects, Research Infrastructure (RI) service developers and user support staff, and RI staff working on user interaction and community/network building. Links to the sessions will be provided upon registration.

Webinar #1: Service validation & evaluation: making sure your services are up to the task

Friday 17 June, 10:00-11:30 CEST

Zoom (link to be provided upon registration)


  • Validating services & assessing their TRL – Mark van de Sanden (SURF)
  • Service evaluation: why & how – Yin Chen (EGI)
  • Evaluating ENVRI services: experiences from the ENVRIplus – Maggie Hellström (ICOS)
  • Q&A and general discussion – plenary

Webinar #2: Service documentation & tutorials: rolling out the red carpet for end users

Thursday 23 June, 10:00-11:30 CEST

Zoom (link to be provided upon registration)


  • Writing effective service documentation for EUDAT services – Rob Carillo (EUDAT)
  • Service tutorial design: experiences from EOSC Synergy – Helen Clare (JISC)
  • Using Jupyter Notebooks to introduce services to “new” end users – ENVRI-FAIR expert (TBA)
  • Q&A and general discussion – plenary

You can sign up for one or both webinars using the form linked below:

Click here to access the form.

LifeWatch ERIC to Collaborate in New Observatory in the Mar Menor

Observatory in the Mar Menor

Three members of the LifeWatch ERIC Executive Board, alongside collaborator Professor Angel Pérez-Ruzafa, attended the Life Transfer Summit in Murcia today, to mark the opening of an observatory in the Mar Menor, an initiative in which the research infrastructure will actively collaborate. CEO Dr Christos Arvanitidis, CTO Dr Juan Miguel González-Aranda, Service Centre Director Professor Alberto Basset and Professor Ruzafa all made presentations at the meeting, which was attended by Mr Antonio Luengo, Environmental Minister of the Murcia region, to bring his support of the infrastructure on the occasion.

The Life Transfer project, Seagrass Transplantation for Transitional Ecosystem Recovery, aims to trigger the process of recolonisation of aquatic phanerogams –known as “ecosystem engineers”– in selected Mediterranean lagoons. These lagoons are all part of Natura 2000 sites in Spain, Italy and Greece, and the project is funded through the Life programme. You can read more about the project and its initial results here.

CTO Live on ‘Despierta Andalucía’ to Speak on Ecological Crises

Despierta Andalucía

This morning, LifeWatch ERIC CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, went live on Andalusian TV to discuss the ecological crises we are facing and to explain the role, the structure, and the ambition of the research infrastructure. He spoke on the programme ‘Despierta Andalucía’ of Canal Sur, noting that the region home to the LifeWatch ERIC Statutory Seat and ICT-Core is known for its excellence in the fields of open software and sustainability research.

During his interview, Dr González-Aranda explained how LifeWatch ERIC makes use of vast amounts of data and cutting-edge technology, such as remote sensing, to monitor and predict changes in the climate and ecosystems, crucial knowledge that can be shared with policymakers and used to develop solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises. He also pointed out the key relationships that the infrastructure holds with various regions all over the world –not just in Europe, but also in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America– which allows for international collaboration in generating and interpreting data, and for the infrastructure to fulfill its ethos of “acting locally, thinking globally”.

LifeWatch ERIC would like to thank Despierta Andalucía, Canal Sur and RTVA for dedicating broadcasting time to shining a light on the current ecological crises, and for raising awareness of European initiatives like LifeWatch ERIC, which offers its free resources and services to researchers and citizen scientists globally.

Click here to watch the full interview, starting at 1:11:07.

LifeWatch ERIC Delegation Visit to Dublin

LifeWatch ERIC Dublin

In early March, LifeWatch ERIC CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, and CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, travelled to Ireland to attend several meetings organised in collaboration with University College Dublin (UCD) and Intelligence in Science (ISC).

The goal was to strengthen ties and to collaborate on enhancing the knowledge and conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems in Ireland, which was the topic of several meetings from 2 – 4 March 2022. As well as having the honour of speaking with members of the Irish parliament and ministry, and representatives from the Embassies of Spain and South Africa, the LifeWatch ERIC delegation held bilateral and group meetings with research centres hosted by two of Ireland’s principal universities, as well as other Irish state agencies, universities and private organisations working in this vital research sector.

The delegation was encouraged by the positive experience, and left satisfied that large steps forward had been made to bring these various communities together to fortify collaboration across biodiversity and ecosystem research.

Full itinerary:

Wednesday, March

On their first day, the CEO and CTO had fruitful discussions with Jeremy Gault of MAREI SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine Research and Innovation from University College Cork (UCC), Triona McCormack, Director of Research at UCD; and Michael Ryan, Irish National Delegate to the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).

Thursday, March

Thursday was a busy workday. At UCD’s Belfield Campus the LifeWatch ERIC delegation met with the UCD Research Leadership team: Orla Feely, Vice-President for Research Innovation and Impact, Triona McCormack – Director of Research, and Ciara Leonard, Public Affairs Manager.

This was followed by a seminar with UCD researchers, hosted by the SFI Research Centre in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG), with: Murray Hitzman, iCRAG Director,  Jennifer Craig, iCRAG COO, Aoife Brady, iCRAG’s Industry and Research Programme Manager, Francesca Martini, iCRAG’s Senior Grants Manager, Maeve Boland, iCRAG’sGeoscience Policy, Communications, and Public Affairs Specialist, Dr Aoife Blowick, iCRAG’s Operations Manager, ISC’s Declan Kirrane, and Ciara Leonard.

The delegation then travelled to the Ministry in Dublin, where they were honoured with a meeting with Damien English, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

A seminar followed, held with Daan du Toit from the Department of Science and Innovation of South Africa, joined by Murray Hitzman, Jennifer Craig, Maeve Boland, David Khoza from Integrated Geoscience Development, Declan Kirrane and Ciara Leonard.

To end the day, LifeWatch ERIC hosted a dinner at the Conrad Hotel, attended by many of the day’s meeting participants, such as Ciara Leonard, Maeve Boland, Murray Hitzman, Jennifer Craig and Declan Kirrane, as well as Samuel Browett from the Waterford Institute of Technology, Willem Geerlings from the Embassy of South Africa and Eduardo Sánchez Moreno from the Embassy of Spain.

Friday, March

The last day of meetings were held with Kevin Burke, National Director for Horizon Europe at Enterprise, Ireland, Peter Heffernan from the Marine Institute and Mission Board, and Ian Jones, founder and CEO of Innopharma Group.

Wrapping up the week at the Dail Eireann (Irish parliament), Christos Arvanitidis and Juan Miguel González-Aranda were honoured to meet Jim O’Callaghan, TD (Member of Parliament) for Dublin Bay South.

BiCIKL Project: User Requirements Survey for Biodiversity Scientists

BiCIKL Survey

We invite all biodiversity scientists to fill in this survey, which aims to identify gaps and trends in the ways in which biodiversity scientists access and use data in their research, by asking participants to describe use cases from their previous or projected work experience. The most appealing use cases will be invited to the open call for Trans-national access projects supported by the BiCIKL project.

BiCIKL is an EU project that aims to provide access and tools for seamless linking between the data along the biodiversity research cycle: specimens > sequences > species > analytics > publications > biodiversity knowledge graph > re-use.  BiCIKL will develop and implement new methods and workflows for an integrated access to harvesting, liberating, linking, accessing and re-using of subarticle-level data (specimens, material citations, samples, sequences, taxonomic names, taxonomic treatments, figures, tables) extracted from literature. 

Click here to fill in the survey.

Collaborations with the European Topic Centre on Spatial Analysis and Synthesis


On 18 February 2022, shortly after attending the Transfiere Forum, LifeWatch ERIC CTO Dr Juan Miguel González-Aranda remained in Malaga for a meeting with The European Topic Center on Spatial Analysis and Synthesis (ETC-UMA). The discussion centred around the definition of cooperation areas with LifeWatch ERIC, specifically for the integration of the “Mediterranean Biodiversity Protection Knowledge Platform” (MBPKP) as a LifeWatch ERIC VRE. All of this is based on the EnBIC-Lab2, Indalo, LifeWatch Alboran and other projects, in an area of cooperation within Horizon Europe where biodiversity is a key topic.

Information about ETC-UMA:

The European Topic Centre on Spatial Analysis and Synthesis (ETC-UMA) is an international research centre within the University of Malaga, which since 2011 has supported the development of knowledge to support evidence-based policy. The team has a wide expertise in a range of environmental and socio-economic domains, and its main areas of expertise include land management, ecosystem services, coastal and marine studies, environmental conservation, territorial development, resource efficiency, and soil mapping.

Information about MBPKP:

The MBPKP is an initiative of the Mediterranean Biodiversity Protection Community (MBPC), which brings together researchers, managers, public authorities and environmental institutions in 15 thematic projects under the umbrella of one horizontal initiative for the Mediterranean. Until 2019 this was known as PANACeA until 2019, with renewed support as MBPC until 2022.

The objective of this community is to foster an ecosystem based approach to nature conservation. This overarching coordinating initiative aims to provide: scientific syntheses with clear messages and recommendations for use in management and to inform and influence current policy in the form of factsheets, technical and policy papers, and media materials; spatial tools and databases to generate new knowledge and better integrate past and current datasets from related projects; and enhanced communication and learning through networking and showcasing the outputs of the whole community of projects in key events and fora.

Gender, Equity and Research: In conversation with Africa Zanella on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022

Women in Science

On the occasion of the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science, LifeWatch ERIC Chief Communication Officer, Sara Montinaro, interviewed Africa Zanella, the infrastructure’s new Gender and Equity Consultant.

When asked to break down what her work entails for those unfamiliar with the position, Ms Zanella explained:

“[My role] means ensuring that there is gender balance in decision-making: in processes, in programmes, in projects, there is always a gender lens […] sometimes when we start looking at research there are already established models which will not yet have been desegregated in terms of gender – so they are repeating the same mistakes over and over again, without giving due consideration to the idea that the role of women has changed over time and that needs have changed […] sustainability depends on women having an equal role.”

On the subject of her own experience working as a woman in scientific fields, she mused that, while “discrimination takes place everywhere”, she has always “broken barriers”, and that these experiences underpin her advocacy work.

“I don’t advocate for equality per se between men and women; I advocate for equal opportunity. If a woman chooses to go into science, there should be no barriers, just as if a man chooses to go into science there should be no barriers, and if different sexual identities go into science, there should be no barriers.”

She went on to identify the reasons why women and girls are often overlooked in research as stereotypesunconscious bias and cultural issues, explaining: “The established pattern has been there for such a long time that people assume that that’s the way it is, […] but the stereotype is not right across the board; there are a lot more women doctors than there were in the past, even over my own lifetime – but for researchers, it’s a different story.” Continuing, she proposed that the answer is to keep advocating for equality, and not to accept unfair treatment, advising “if your organisation does not appreciate your contribution and your relevance to the topic that is at hand, then you have to change,” emphasising that recognition should be defined by how we reward people financially.

Ms Zanella concluded with the following message for young women in science:

“I hope that I encourage young girls to look at themselves as the carriers of this innovative practice which says ‘I am not a victim, and I am not a hero. But I am a human being and I want to live my full potential, therefore; don’t put any barriers in front of me. Let me see what the law says, let me see how my company is supporting me, let me see how I can make my contribution to the world.’ And that is the message that I would like to convey on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Make a contribution.”

You can listen to the full podcast below, or find it on all major podcast platorms.

LifeWatch ERIC Appoints Gender Expert to Assist its Work for Equality in Research

Gender Equality in Research

Dr Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC CEO, has announced  today the appointment of a social scientist and gender expert, Ms Africa G Zanella, to take up the role of advising and directing the infrastructure’s strategy, policies and programmes from a gender-equality perspective.

LifeWatch ERIC is committed to seeing gender balance not only within the organisation, but also in line with European Union guidelines for Research Institutions regarding diversity and inclusion in research projects funded under ERDF,” said the CEO.

Ms Zanella will design and implement a Gender Equality Plan which will be available to all stakeholders including researchers, staff, allies and the LifeWatch ERIC international community,  to create an equitable and sustainable environment for all at work. The plan will develop a cohesive front of human capital in LifeWatch ERIC’s quest to develop innovative research tools and systems for biodiversity and ecosystem scientists, to make a social, economic and environmental difference.

Ms Zanella is an innovative thinker and challenges traditional approaches to problem solving. She has been appointed to the World Bank Climate Investment Fund for the 2021-23 period as a Civil Society Observer and is an accredited expert in Women’s Empowerment, Economic Growth and Green Industry for the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). She has special skills in the alignment of SDG 5 (Equality) with relevant SDGs to ensure that women play an important role in economic and social development and contribute to the wellbeing and survival of people and the planet. She hopes to be able to establish a transformative change that will see high-quality researchers from diverse backgrounds participate with LifeWatch ERIC in its mission and vision. 

Ms Zanella was born in Spain and has lived and worked in Australia most of her life, where she has a distinguished career in international relations and sustainability. She can be contacted at

Mapping Eel Migration Routes

Mapping Eel Migration Routes

This story was originally posted on LifeWatch Belgium.

With the use of 96 data loggers, scientists of the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Ghent University and the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) succeeded in mapping the migration routes of eels in the North Sea. The results show that the majority of Belgian eels migrate through the English Channel. Although this seems the logical thing to do, some choose to migrate over Scotland. The reason for these different choices is still under study; the eels are probably guided by certain sea currents.

The European eel has one of the most impressive and complex life cycles in the animal kingdom. They grow in our rivers, but need to migrate at least 7000 m to the spawning grounds in the Atlantic Ocean. The exact location of and the migration routes to these spawning grounds are after millennia of research still poorly known.

Researchers from the INBOGhent University and VLIZ attached data logging devices to eels to map their migration routes in the North Sea. Pieterjan Verhelst from the INBO: “These data logging devices measure water temperature and depth during the eel’s migration route. After some time, the devices detach from the eel, drift to the sea surface and hopefully wash ashore. Whoever found such a device and sent it back to us was awarded €50. As such, we could download the data and calculate the eel’s trajectory.”

Successful findings
From the 320 deployed data loggers 96 (30%) were retrieved. The majority were found near the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel (France), but substantial numbers were also retrieved along the southern coasts of the UK and the Netherlands.

Whales and sharks
The route was not without danger. Marine predators like whales and sharks ate eleven of our eels. In some cases we were even able to identify the culprit to species level (a pilot whale and a porbeagle shark) based on the species-specific body temperature (after predation the data logger was inside the predator) and the diving pattern.

Bit by bit
Although we couldn’t track the eels until their spawning locations, these results are a valuable contribution to the already known routes (for example the route from Norway over the UK and the route through the Mediterranean Sea). Putting the pieces of the puzzle together on one map, we gradually get a total picture of the various eel migration routes. The final 3000 km to the spawning sites, however, is still shrouded in mystery and require further research.

For more info, contact Pieterjan Verhelst (Research Institute for Nature and Forest)

LifeWatch ERIC at the 2022 ERIC Forum Annual Meeting

ERIC Forum Annual Meeting

Today, 26 January 2022, LifeWatch ERIC CTO Dr Juan Miguel González-Aranda participated in the ERIC Forum Annual Meeting. During the event, Dr González-Aranda presented the “Technical and Innovation Report on the integration of ERICs into pan-European infrastructures – The example of EOSC” on behalf of his co-authors, Dr Cristina Huertas Olivares and Dr Christos Arvanitidis of LifeWatch ERIC.

The report was produced in the context of the ERIC FORUM H2020 Project, forming part of Work Package 6: “The Role of ERICs in European science policy and research strategy”. It presents a review on the integration of ERIC development into pan-European infrastructures, particularly regarding the new EOSC (European Open Science Cloud). 

In the first chapter, which describes Research Infrastructures (RI) and RI clusters, the reader is introduced to the rationale for their cooperation and collaboration in using EOSC resources: it achieves a degree of integration of their basic assets (e.g. data and information). The following chapter reflects on the efforts that have been made to establish EOSC in the past, describing key players along with current prospects. These chapters are followed by key conclusions and some recommendations for the enhancement of this ongoing integration process.

The ERIC Forum Annual Meeting will continue tomorrow, 27 January, in order for members to discuss the practical aspects of future collaboration between ERICs.