Google Tech Talks
February, 26 2008
Jonathan Rosenberg is pleased to host a tech talk featuring Drs. Paul Hebert and Dan Janzen, who will discuss their transformative (and very Googley) International Barcode of Life project (www.dnabarcoding.org) we hope you can find the time to attend. (For those of you not in MV, we’ll send info out after the video has been posted on Moma.) If we generate sufficient Googler interest, we may follow up this talk by taking a group of the most interested and qualified Googlers on a trip to the Costa Rican rain forest for a weekend of field research, education, and development. We will share more details on the 26th.
iBOL’s goal is to capture, using a handheld device, the unique “DNA barcode” of each and every species on earth, and organize that information to be accessible and useful for everyone (sound familiar?). A DNA barcode is a gene sequence that uniquely identifies any species, and iBOL has already barcoded 35,000 of them. There are approximately 10M species on the planet (half of which have yet to be discovered), so there’s a long way to go, but the components for success are in place.
During my recent family vacation to Costa Rica I hiked the rain forest, and by the end of the trip could easily identify a toucan, eyelash viper, and three types of monkeys (howling, spider, and Rosenberg offspring). Pretty impressive, right? Then Dr. Janzen showed me a photo of that same rain forest and told me that there were approximately 400 species of animals and plants in that picture, and not a toucan or monkey among them. So it turns out that I’m just as bio-illiterate as everyone else, but Google can do something about this. When we talk about organizing all the world’s information, a blueprint of the world’s natural biodiversity should be part of it.
Speaker: Dr. Paul Hebert
Professor Hebert is Canada Research Chair in Molecular Biodiversity at the University of Guelph and directs the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario. Previously, he was Chair of the Department of Zoology, Board Chair at the Huntsman Marine Science Centre at Guelph, and Director of the Great Lakes Institute at the University of Windsor. Professor Hebert is best known for founding the concept of DNA barcoding, and has published more than 270 papers employing molecules to probe biological diversity. Over the past triennium, he has raised more than $30M to construct the world’s first barcode ‘factory’ and the informatics platform needed to support the barcode registration of all multi-cellular life. Together with a few colleagues, Professor Hebert is now leading efforts to establish the $150M International Barcode of Life Project that will barcode 500K species within 5 years. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and has received several national and international scientific awards. Professor Hebert completed a BSc at Queen’s University, a PhD in genetics at Cambridge University and postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Sydney and the Natural History Museum (London).
Speaker: Dr. Dan Janzen
Dan Janzen is DiMaura Professor of Conservation Biology, University of Pennsylvania, and Technical Advisor to Area de Conservacion Guanacaste (ACG), a 163,000 hectare conservation area in northwestern Costa Rica. Janzen is a tropical ecologist and biodiversity conservationist with 54 years of experience and 440 scientific papers and books, all focused on the interactions of tropical animals and plants, and for the past 23 years, their permanent conservation as well. He is a member of the US and the Costa Rican National Academy of Science, and recipient of the Crafoord Prize and the Kyoto Prize. He and his biologist wife Dr. Winnie Hallwachs are co-architects and co-constructors, along with many others, of ACG and of Costa Rica’s INBio (Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad). He and Hallwachs are currently focused on facilitating the iBOL project to DNA barcode the species of the world for their identification by anyone anywhere at any time, and on facilitating Costa Rica’s willingness to permanently conserve the 4% of the world’s biodiversity that lives on 25% of the nationa…
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