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iPlant Collaborative

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PSCIC Full Proposal: The iPlant Collaborative: A Cyberinfrastructure-Centered Community for a New Plant Biology  (University of Arizona)

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits


The iPlant Collaborative (iPC) seeks to take collaboration to a new level, bringing together researchers in every area of plant science – from molecular and cellular biologists to those working at the ecosystem and global levels – as well as computer scientists, information scientists, engineers, mathematicians and social scientists and enabling specialists from different fields to work together more effectively than ever before.


The driving force behind the iPC is the nature of the grand challenge questions in plant sciences, and all facets of the collaborative are organized around those selected questions. The act of selecting these questions is community-driven, and to facilitate that, the Collaborative hosts a series of workshops, each focused on a specific area of plant biology, but with participants cutting across the spectrum of the computational and biological sciences. The goal of each workshop is to identify the grand challenge questions in that field, as well as the necessary strategies and approaches that are needed to solve the question(s). Self-forming Grand Challenge Teams from the community then work with iPC personnel to develop a “Discovery Environment” (DE), which is a cyberinfrastructure for open-access research and education focused on a grand challenge question. Over time, the DEs designed for different grand challenges will overlap and coalesce into a comprehensive cyberinfrastructure for discovery and learning.


Education & Outreach


The cyberinfrastructure created by the iPC provides the community with two main capabilities: it will provide access to world-class physical infrastructure; for example, persistent storage, and compute power via local and national resources, and it will provide services that promote interactions, communications and collaborations and that advance the understanding and use of computational thinking in plant biology. Through these capabilities, the iPC will catalyze progress in targeted areas of plant biology, and more broadly advance the whole of plant science through new, creative, synthesis activities, and training the next generation of scientists in computational (and collaborative) thinking.

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