Stressors and Drivers of Food Security: Evidence from Scientific Collections

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Stressors and Drivers of Food Security: Evidence from Scientific Collections
19-21 September 2016
National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD
Hosted by: U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Stressors and Drivers of Food Security: Evidence from Scientific Collections workshop was organized by Scientific Collections International (SciColl) at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland, 19-21 September 2016. The SciColl mission is “Increase the use and impact of scientific collections for interdisciplinary research and societal benefits” and “Expand the access, awareness and appreciation of scientific collections.” The “Stressors and Drivers of Food Security” workshop was designed to help show the importance of scientific collections to the topic of food security.

The first day opened with welcomes from Paul Wester, Director of the National Agricultural Library and Catherine Woteki, Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics at the US Department of Agriculture. David Schindel (Chairman, SciColl Executive Board) then gave an overview of SciColl to the approximately 40 attendees from around the world.

Two keynote talks followed. The first, from David Inouye (Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland and Principal Investigator at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory) covered the importance of collections and field studies of pollinators in fostering food security. Kristen Gremillion (Professor at the Ohio State University) followed with a talk on the fascinating topic of ancient crops, archaeological collections, and food security.
The keynotes were followed by a series of short talks from:

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Grace Costantino from the Biodiversity Heritage Library gave a talk entitled “Literature Resources to Support Food Security Research: An Introduction to the BHL“.

The second day of the meeting was focused on four sessions devoted to presentations about different research challenges, followed by commentaries and discussion by panelists representing different collection domains. The focus was on how different collection types could contribute to research.

Martin Kalfatovic, BHL Program Director, chaired the first session, “Varieties of Food,” that featured talks from Rod Page (University of Glasgow), “Unknown Knowns, Long Tails, and Long Data“, and Ari Novy (Director, US Botanic Garden). The session was followed by comments from a reactor panel and discussion from the audience. The remaining sessions followed a similar format with reactor panels and audience discussion.

Biological Stressors and Aides

  • Kevin McCluskey, Kansas State University
  • Marcia Maués, Embrapa

Environmental Stressors and Benefits

Feeding the 10 Billion

The closing day of the workshop was devoted to developing new strategies and discussing next steps. Breakout groups were organized to discuss the following topics:

  • New strategies for increasing the use and impact of collections and associated databases for food security research
  • Case studies that exemplify cross-cutting and forward-thinking uses of collections and associated databases for food security research
  • Major recommendations for the research and collections communities, funding agencies, and/or networks (such as SciColl)

The results of the workshop will be published later this year in a white paper. The video recordings of the workshop are available on the SciColl YouTube channel.

More information:


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Avatar for Martin R. Kalfatovic

Martin R. Kalfatovic is BHL Program Director and Associate Director, Digital Programs and Initiatives Division, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives. As the BHL Program Director, Mr. Kalfatovic functions as the executive director and manager of the international consortium of over 80 natural history, botanical garden, government, and university libraries engaged in the mass digitization of taxonomic literature. The position also serves as a key contact for government, NGO, and academic leaders at both the national and international level. Within his role at Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, Mr. Kalfatovic is responsible for the Libraries’ active Digital Library program. This program includes the creation of digital editions of library materials, online exhibitions, and new digital publications.