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MARBIGEN Researcher awarded with Encyclopedia of Life Rubenstein Fellowship


Washington, D.C. - January 28, 2013 - The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 EOL Rubenstein Research Fellowship awards.  The seven awardees will lead research teams seeking to answer novel research questions not readily addressable without the extensive data resources served by EOL.  EOL Rubenstein Research Fellow awards are made possible by a generous gift to EOL by David M. Rubenstein through the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.

The Encyclopedia of Life organization seeks to provide global access to knowledge about life on Earth by gathering trusted information on all species known to science into a single free, open and actively curated website at Now featuring information on over a million species gathered from over 230 content providers, EOL is becoming a crucial resource for researchers, educators and citizens seeking to understand the world around them.

The research generated by these projects will be published to Open Access journals as they are completed, and datasets will also be available through EOL. All new software tools created for the projects will be published to public repositories and have open source licenses.

"I believe these projects will give much-needed answers to questions about species interactions and the effect of human activities and climate change on these interactions over time,” said Mr. Jorrit Poelen, a 2013 EOL Rubenstein Research Fellow. “With this data readily available we can increase our shared understanding of ecosystems around the world." 

"The EOL Rubenstein Research Fellowship program has been extremely important in our efforts to increase awareness and understanding of life on Earth,” said Dr. Erick Mata, EOL Executive Director.  “We are very excited to learn what these research teams will reveal over the coming year, and we look forward to working with other investigators interested in examining the Earth’s biosphere through the macroscope of EOL." 

The 2013 Rubenstein Research Fellowships awards are:

1. Chantal-Marie Wright, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, USA

Using the Encyclopedia of Life to Explore Altitude Specificity of Flower Coloration

Image analysis of flower photos on EOL will reveal whether different colors dominate at different altitudes.

2. Jorrit Poelen, Oakland, CA, USA

Unleashing EOL's Species Interaction Datasets—Integration, Visualization, and Analysis

Taxon associations will be revealed from EOL text and resolved into ecological networks.

Collaborators: Chris Mungall, Lawrence Berkeley Labs, Berkeley, CA, USA; Robert Reiz, Berlin, Germany; James Simons, Center for Coastal Studies, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, TX, USA

3. Jonathan Chang, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Using massively crowd-sourced data to examine morphological impacts of extinction risk in ray-finned fishes

Remote participants will mark up and measure fish photos on EOL to reveal patterns in anatomy and extinction risk.

Collaborator: Michael Alfaro, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

4. Jose Ferrer-Paris, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Caracas, Venezuela and South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town, South Africa

Using web-content for the assessment of macroecological patterns in butterfly-hostplant associations at a global scale.

Butterfly-plant associations from EOL text will be compared and combined with other sources to assess the state of our knowledge of this ecological relationship.

Collaborator: Ada Sanchez Mercado, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC), Caracas, Venezuela

5. Congtian Lin, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Using the multiple classifications harvested by EOL for analysis to obtain the degree of coverage and congruence among hierarchies and nomenclatures.

Different taxonomic classifications will be compared in order to discover patterns of agreement and controversy in current taxonomy.

Collaborator: Jiangning Wang, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

6. Barbara Banbury, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA

Reol: Developing an R interface to EOL

Numerical data will be made available to scientists in the standard desktop analysis tool “R”, so they can analyze patterns in biodiversity information, such as “Which groups of mollusks have images available and which have common names in French?”

Collaborator: Brian O'Meara, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA

7. Evangelos Pafilis, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture (IMBBC), Crete, Greece

ENVIRONMENTS: Discovering habitat terms in EOL Contents

Habitat descriptors, like “coral reef”, “desert”, “tundra” and so on will be extracted from EOL articles into meaningful tags, which will allow us to index species by habitat type.

Collaborators: Christina Pavloudi, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Crete, Greece ; Julia Schnetzer, Bremen, Germany; Lucia Fanini, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Crete, Greece ; Lars Juhl Jensen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Sarah Faulwetter, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Crete, Greece ; Sune Pletscher-Frankild, , University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Umer Zeeshan Ijaz (University of Glasgow, United Kingdom); Aikaterini Vasileiadou (Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Crete, Greece)

About the Encyclopedia of Life: The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) operates as an ongoing collaboration among many international partners dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of living nature.  EOL provides free and open digital access to trusted information on all known species at EOL is available in Arabic, English, Mandarin, Spanish and 8 other languages.

Collaborating institutions include the Atlas of Living Australia, New Library of Alexandria (Egypt), Biodiversity Heritage Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences, CONABIO (Mexico), Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Harvard University, Missouri Botanical Garden, Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole and the Smithsonian Institution. For a complete list of collaborating organizations visit

For more information about the EOL Rubenstein Research Fellowship program, visit


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