Digital Infrastructure Will Allow Researchers to Share Diverse Scientific Information
Dr. Stuart Chalk, a University of North Florida chemistry professor, has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to test and improve upon his data science framework, SciData, which will help make the integration of scientific data more efficient for researchers.
The $600,000 NSF grant will focus on linking chemical data to health, pharmacology and toxicology data from a variety of sources and organizing it in a way that both people as well as computers can understand and search the data.
The goal is to show that this digital approach—Chalk’s SciData framework—will allow researchers to find correlations between data that wouldn’t be possible without using this way of processing, organizing and interpreting the data.
“This project aims to build a digital infrastructure that will allow data to be integrated, so both humans and machines can pose complicated questions and extract new knowledge automatically,” said Chalk, a Southside resident. “This system will serve as a catalyst for the sharing of scientific data when researchers see the possibilities enabled through this project.”
Currently, there are systems available where researchers can store and share data, however, there isn’t one in which researchers can share any type of data, in any format and of any size.
Chalk says scientists need a tangible solution to allow both the capture of scientific data in a generic way, so that it can be adapted to different research scenarios and enables interoperability with data from online repositories, research collaborators and national databases.
The grant monies will allow Chalk to establish a new Chemical Informatics and Data Science Research Center on campus and train 30 chemistry undergraduate students in the application of data science techniques over the three years of the project. It will also provide the opportunity for a post-doctoral teaching position at the University.
“The lab will serve as a focal point to do the research, visualize the data and expose data science to students in other University classes, Chalk said. “This project will also bring attention to data science and how undergraduate students need to be trained with these skills to enable future scientific discoveries.”
Chalk has taught chemistry at the University since 1996. His research interests include chemical informatics, semantic chemistry and scientific data models. Chalk has won several grants and awards, including Who’s Who in America’s Teachers and the UNF Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award.
He earned his doctorate at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and conducted his post-doctoral research at Duquesne University. Chalk received a bachelor’s degree from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom.