Building Capacity

Workshops and courses to help scientists gain the skills they need to navigate changes in funding, policy, and technology

Sustaining Biological Infrastructure (SBI) Training Initiative

This initiative, launched by ESA in 2014 and sponsored by the National Science Foundation NSF, aims to provide project directors with the core business planning, marketing, and communication skills they need to ensure their resource can continue delivering services that are recognized and valued for their contributions to scientific research. Our core Strategies for Success course will be offered June 19-21 and October 16-18, 2018. See the SBI website for details.

Two previous workshops related to the initiative, “Strategies for Sustainability of Biological Infrastructure” (November 2010) and “Strategies for Developing and Innovating Living Stocks Collections” (August 2012) identified challenges to keeping biological infrastructure projects operational, investigated different sustainability models, helped craft strategies for developing and innovating the nation’s living stocks collections. The workshop reports are available here and here

FutureProofing Natural History Collections:
Creating Sustainable Models for Research Resources

This December 2016 workshop, building on the SBI initiative, brought together a diverse, interdisciplinary group of natural history museum curators and collections staff, collections users (both current and potential), sustainability experts, management research specialists, and future studies experts to discuss the potential for developing (1) quantitative measures of collections value and (2) economic models for translating this value into support for collections, based on tangible benefits.

Sustaining Data Repositories:
PI Workshop on Creating and Implementing Sustainability Plans

The objectives of this January 2018 workshop were to identify challenges and opportunities specific to data repository sustainability, identify challenges and opportunities of implementing different sustainability models, and produce a process guide to help participants draft their own sustainability plans. Twenty-two data repository leaders from a variety of disciplines (including biology, geology, engineering, computer science, math/physical sciences, and social sciences) attended the workshop to identify challenges and opportunities specific to data repository sustainability and to brainstorm collaborative, creative solutions. Participants, along with the help of our talented organizing committee (Cynthia Chandler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Abhijit Deshmukh, Purdue University; Myron Gutmann, University of Colorado; Eva Huala, Phoenix Bioinformatics; Mike Hildreth, University of Notre Dame; Gary Marchionini, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and Nancy Maron, BlueSky to BluePrint) and ESA staff, began working in earnest on a process guide to help data repository leaders draft their own sustainability plans. Once complete, the process guide will act as a step-by-step manual and include links to helpful tools, templates, and case studies. ESA staff are in the process of scheduling follow-up activities to finalize the process guide and to brief NSF staff on the workshop’s outcomes and recommendations. This workshop was a direct outgrowth of the Science Office’s work on research infrastructure sustainability that began in 2010 and includes our Sustaining Biological Infrastructure Training Initiative, currently funded through 2020.

Nagoya Protocol and the Shifting Landscape
of International Biological Research

The Nagoya Protocol, part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, calls for sharing the benefits from the use of genetic resources with the people who live where those resources are found. This “access to benefits” requirement has important implications for the conduct of international biological research.

This October 2017 workshop brought together leaders of professional societies in biology to learn about the Protocol and its potential effects on the conduct of research from experts in the field.

National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)

NEON is a continental-scale research platform for discovering and understanding the impacts of climate change, land-use change, and invasive species on ecology. NEON will gather long-term data on ecological responses of the biosphere to changes in land use and climate, and on feedbacks with the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. ESA is a founding member of NEON, and Director of Education and Diversity Programs Teresa Mourad and Vice President for Science Jayne Belnap serve on NEON’s Science, Technology & Education Advisory Committee (STEAC). STEAC advisory reports are available on the Committee website. The ESA-sponsored webinar “What’s available from NEON for your NSF MacroSystems proposal?” is available here: