Workshop on Digital Data in Paleo Research

Jen here –

Last few weeks have been quite hectic – the week that I traveled with my students to present at SE GSA, I also traveled to Berkeley, California to participate in a workshop on Digital Data in Paleontological Research. The workshop was hosted by iDigBio (Integrated Digitized Biocollections).

Smilodon (extinct saber toothed cat) in the Berkeley geology building. So cool!

This workshop consisted of a series of lectures on current digital projects, discussions on prominent issues with digital data, and what research people are doing with digital data. It was a lot of fun and I learned a ton. My main reason for attending this workshop was to see how people are managing ‘heavy’ data. By heavy, I mean large file sizes.

I traveled to Switzerland back in 2015 to collect data at their synchrotron facility. We got a ton of high resolution images (this is like a more powerful CT scanner in hospitals), by ton I mean 12 TB. How do you store or archive this? We have 3 external hard drives with the data and I’ve just finished uploading it to our Google Drive. Digital data is so cool but how the heck are you supposed to handle 12 TB if you don’t have your own servers to store it!?!? Maybe we will hear more at the next meeting on best practices with this ‘heavy’ data.

The most entertaining talk of the whole workshop. Dr. Paul Mayer from the Field Museum.

Unfortunately, the consensus is still out on how to do this properly. I think having it in two places is safe and our collaborators have a copy as well. I met some interesting people and had some interesting ideas for future research projects.

As the semester wraps up I’ll be trying to dive into my projects while we attempt to move buildings. Logan and I are working on cleaning up some of our models from SE GSA and I’m heading into the field soon to collect some specimens in western Kentucky for a study on the growth of a specific type of blastoid.

In the meantime I’ve been working on developing a fossil summer camp with our local museum! I’ll post more about that this summer in our Education and Outreach section!

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