Jens is the Geoscience Analytics Team Leader in the Mineral Resources unit of CSIRO. His research revolves around the application of machine learning and digital tools, such as mobile apps and cloud computing, for use in mineral exploration and other geology-related research domains. Jens studied geology and oceanography, before combining the two into paleo-oceanography in his PhD. Before moving to Australia and joining CSIRO, he spent 13 years at the German Research Centre for Geosciences building research data infrastructures. Through these activities, he became involved with precursors of RDA, like CODATA. Jens was introduced to RDA in 2013 and watched the organisation develop through the years. He has been able to identify areas to which he can contribute and in turn receive input on his own work.
When asked how RDA has impacted his work, Jens talks about the Data Versioning Working Group (WG) that he’s currently co-chairing. The versioning of research data is an issue that appeared repeatedly in his work.
“Within the collaborative research infrastructures in Australia, data are held at different locations, sometimes being transformed into different formats. Here, questions arise about what “version” means, in which way “versions” differ from one another, and how a “version” relates to the original work. The dynamic data versioning WG at RDA published recommendations which we then tried to apply to the National Computational Infrastructure in Canberra, the high-performance computing centre, and that’s where we saw that further work was needed to clarify what we mean by “version” and that we could solve this problem through RDA. We first launched a BoF meeting to test the waters, and the response was very positive, so we started an Interest Group to formulate the path forward. Eventually, we started a Working Group, which is now coming to a close. The Working Group has produced a report that we will present in Helsinki, that outlines the principles and best practises for versioning of research data.”
On the value of RDA for him, Jens tells us that “one of the things that I learned to appreciate once I got more involved was that there’s a great opportunity to meet people, either in person at plenaries or online through other media, who are working on questions that I might also have. So even though it is not always easy to find what is of interest, once you do, there’s a good chance that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel trying to solve your research data issues, but you will find somebody who is already an expert, or at least has some experience in the field that you’re trying to solve. RDA gives you plenty of opportunities to meet people with a very high level of expertise.”
Finally, talking about the future of RDA and improving the RDA member experience, Jens provided valuable feedback, recommending improved remote participation to events and providing lots of food for thought for new initiatives - hackathons, satellite events and ‘follow the sun’ meetings to accommodate time zones across the globe.