Tallahassee, Florida, June 12, 2011

The National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $10 million grant to Florida State University and the University of Florida to coordinate 92 institutions in 45 states working to digitize the nation's biological collections.

Dr. Greg Riccardi, Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) and Director of the Center for Information Management in Scientific Communication in the College of Communication and Information, is a Co-Principle Investigator on the grant. Called Integrated Digitized Biocollections or “iDigBio,” the information in the digitized collections will include field notes, photographs, 3-D images and information on associated organisms, geographic distribution, environmental habitat and specimen DNA samples.

"We are seeing the impact of biodiversity on policies related to climate change, conservation and customs issues today…This project puts us in the center of U.S. efforts to digitize collections for biodiversity research… as well as manage and provide access to those collections,” says Riccardi. He will work with UF's Florida Museum of Natural History and its College of Engineering Advanced Computing Information Systems Laboratory to create software and databases the nationwide participants will use to transfer and store the data. Available to anyone online, the natural history data and its increased accessibility will help researchers identify gaps in scientific knowledge and could assist government agencies and others making decisions related to climate change, conservation, invasive species, biodiversity and other biological issues. FSU’s part of the award is $2.8 million.

In addition to Riccardi, the other FSU faculty working on the project are SLIS faculty Dr. Marcia Mardis, an assistant professor and Associate Director for the Partnerships Advancing Library Media (PALM) Center, who has led eight research grants relating to use of digital libraries within the NSF's National Science Digital Library program, and Dr. Austin Mast, an associate professor of biological science and the director of FSU's Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium, a scientific collection of more than 200,000 plant specimens.

Riccardi's previous work in biodiversity and digital collections includes Morphbank, a joint project involving FSU, the University of Kansas, the University of Texas and the Swedish Museum of Natural History that created a repository of images of insects, plants and other organisms. He is also part of the Department of Defense-funded Military Suicide Research Consortium’s effort to collect, analyze and organize relevant research publications on suicide and is developing a search system that will allow people to pose questions and to receive ranked lists of relevant information resources from the database.

For more information on the iDigBio project, contact FSU's Riccardi at (850) 644-2869 or [log in to unmask]

Corinne Jörgensen, Professor and Director
School of Library and Information Studies
Associate Dean for Research
College of Communication and Information
142 Collegiate Loop  PO Box 3062100
Florida State University
Tallahassee FL 32306-2100
850.644.8116  FAX 850.644.9763