February 11 is the United Nations International Day for Women and Girls in Science. It is a day to inspire girls to choose science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) subjects at school and women to pursue a career in a STEMM-related field, as well as to recognise the achievements of women in STEMM.
We acknowledge this important day by recognising the women scientists leading research infrastructure projects, supported by the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC). These projects will accelerate research through providing digital research platforms and data assets.
Creating the First National Cat and Dog Cancer Database in the World
Dr Chiara Palmieri is a Professor in Veterinary Pathology at the University of Queensland and the leader of an Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) project, Australian Companion Animal Registry of Cancers — ACARCinom.
For the first time, standardised real-time data from veterinary pathology labs and universities on dog and cat cancer occurrences in Australia is being collected in a database, ACARCinom. The database will help answer the questions around companion animal cancers plaguing veterinary researchers, epidemiologists and clinicians.
“We have 5 million pet dogs in Australia. Usually, 1 in 3 dogs experience cancer in their lifetime. So what we are losing is 2 million cases of cancer data that have not been analysed at all,” said Chiara.
“So why is that important? Because if you ask me the question “What’s the most common tumor in dogs in Australia?” I don’t know the answer.
“What are the risk factors of specific tumors in dogs? Which age group, which breed is more at risk of specific tumors? If there is a trend in one particular population we don’t have that information in a standardised way.”
Piecing Together the Puzzle of Australian Seabed Data
Kim Picard is a marine geoscientist at Geoscience Australia and leads the ARDC co-investment project Global Multi-Resolution Topography — AusSeabed (GMRT-AusSeabed) for Australian coastal and ocean models.
“The data [about our seabed] we have is all stored in fragmented puzzle pieces, but they all don’t quite fit together and all belong to different people,” said Kim.
“Once you find the data, there’s a lot of time spent processing it and harmonising it so you can put it into this puzzle.”
That’s where the ARDC co-investment project will help Australian researchers and industry. It will enable the end-users to create their own seabed puzzle by bringing together the data stored in the AusSeabed Data Hub, the national seabed mapping coordination program led by Geoscience Australia, which is bringing together data from various locations and formats to create the best repository for Australian seabed data.
Environmental Problem Solving With the EcoCommons Research Platform
Dr Elisa Bayraktarov is an ecologist and is leading the ARDC-supported EcoCommons research platform.
The ARDC is supporting the development of the EcoCommons platform — a $5 million investment to create a world-leading ecological and environmental modelling tool to support environmental problem solving. Building on 10 years of research and experience, the platform will become a superhighway for users; shortening the time from question, to answer, to environmental decision.
“The EcoCommons Australia program is building a research platform to bring all the fantastic data that already exists into one place, connect it with published methods, tools and analytical workflows, and back this all up with high performance computation and cloud storage,” said Elisa.
“And by doing this in one connected platform, running scientific workflows becomes much more rapid, transparent, reproducible and streamlined.”
EcoCommons will give Australian decision makers, practitioners, researchers and students access to trusted ecological and environmental data sets and modelling tools. It will also provide ready-to-use educational materials.
The ARDC is funded through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) to support national digital research infrastructure for Australian researchers.