This award provides support for the first part of an ambitious collaborative informatics project between researchers at Arizona State University and the informatics team at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts (MBL). The full project involves three parts and will lead to informatics infrastructure and training that will be available to the entire STS (Science, Technology, and Society) community. This award provides seed money that will serve to support the first part of the project, which is described in the next section. In the second part, the team will build a centralized repository and adapt and develop informatics tools to allow the History Project to develop new kinds of scholarly data and knowledge. The repository will integrate the MBL History Project into a single, shared resource growing from the repository containing other projects that already reside at the MBL. In the third part, the team will develop a research system to allow any STS researchers to add their materials into the repository (with ownership and intellectual property carefully labeled and protected), then take advantage of participating in a shared system for which each researcher has access to all, and be able to ask new research questions and develop new knowledge as a result. To foster these approaches the team will also develop an education infrastructure for STS informatics.

Intellectual Merit

Scholars will develop new research approaches and findings within the MBL History Project, which brings together existing materials related to biology at the MBL and provides scholarly interpretations of the science, the institution, and its place in society. The MBL has been one of the world's leading biological research and education institutions for over 120 years, and it has had tremendous impact on the life sciences and on society. The team will assemble working groups around four topics: Embryology, Model Organisms, Physiology, and Ecosystems. A team leader has been identified for each working group, and each of them will bring together a small group to help identify materials that will be collected and ingested into the database. These will be combined with materials gathered through MyMBL, an online tool that the team is developing for collecting digital video narratives from living subjects on specific topics; the development of MyMBL is to be supported by this award. Additional (more technical) infrastructure elements are also to be supported, such as the development of a d-space repository for maintaining information in triples that are to be imported from some Fedora databases. All of these elements will serve to provide a "proof of principle" for the full project outlined in the first section above.

Potential Broader Impacts

The impacts of the first part of the project include the scholarly results of the MBL History Project, centered on the repository and Web interface plus more traditional scholarly interpretive publications and presentations. Some steps will be taken to develop the repository and tools that will eventually make research results available through several different Web interfaces to multiple user groups, from scholars to the wider public, including educators and students; undergraduate and graduate students will be able to contribute articles, building on successful existing models. Finally, the informatics team will continue developing plans for offering Informatics Training courses and materials in order to make the shared repository as useful as possible for the STS community and more broadly.

Project Report

This grant to establish a digital infrastructure for history and philosophy of science was a seed project. It has led to the planned infrastructure, available at This is a repository for data and published products, to make information resulting from research available to a broad group of scholarly and public users. The Embryo Project at and Marine Biological Laboratory History Project at are the immediately available, open access outcomes. Therefore, the grant has served its purpose to seed larger work, now funded and being carried out with other NSF and institutional funding. We are building a reserach system, which includes laying out all protocols, standards, and archiving rules for our digital publishing projects. This modest NSF investment has had great broader impacts in that the web products are already being used and we are developing additional applications within the repository. The intellectual merits will continue to develop, through the web interfaces and as the repository is used by more projects. Connecting projects through a shared infrastructure allows each separate effort to gain from the results of all the others. This efficiency is already enabling discovery of new knowledge that will become more evident as we continue to put the infrastructure to work.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Frederick M Kronz
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Arizona State University
United States
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