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[iaoa-member] Position statement for EC election

To: <iaoa-member@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Janna Hastings" <hastings@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 15 Sep 2013 16:19:50 +0100
Message-id: <006a01ceb227$0870c540$19524fc0$@ebi.ac.uk>

Dear IAOA community,


I thank you for your consideration of my candidacy to become a member of the EC.  Here are my personal and position statements.



I was born and raised in South Africa before moving to the UK in 2006. Following a career in IT, armed with an academic background in Computer Science and dalliances into Philosophy, I was first introduced into the thriving field of formal ontology in 2008—2009 through community discussions around improvements to the ChEBI chemical ontology, for which project I was then and am still now employed. What fascinates me about ontology is the way it brings together advanced AI technology and deep philosophical considerations to apply to pressing practical challenges in research and cutting-edge information systems. In the years since first discovering the field I have made both practical and theoretical contributions to several ontology projects, in diverse domains including chemistry and mental functioning. Since 2010 I have had the enormous pleasure of organising the Cambridge OntoPub discussion group, which meets sort-of-monthly at locations around Cambridge, UK, to combine the discussion of ontological questions with the consumption of English beer.



Should I be elected to the EC, I would commit myself inter alia to the outreach and community-building aspects of the work of the Association through (1) increasing membership and participation in the Association from the bio-ontology community; (2) promoting interdisciplinary collaboration through investigating routes towards the introduction of a supported programme for student and partnership-building knowledge exchanges; (3) increasing the availability of social and networking opportunities in the programme offered at IAOA-supported events; and in support of the previous points, (4) I would be prepared to work with the other members of the EC to explore additional funding streams for the Association should that be deemed necessary, including through exploring the possibility of offering services to Industry.


(1)    I am an active member of both the formal ontology and the bio-ontology communities. I believe that the bio-ontology community, which is responsible for the development of hugely successful projects such as the Gene Ontology, has already benefited substantially from interactions with the formal ontologies community, both through direct collaboration and indirect knowledge transfer. Nevertheless, I believe the bio-ontology community is not as aware of the important work of the Association as it could be. Should I be elected I would campaign for increased membership and participation in the Association amongst my peers in this closely related field.

(2)    In my career, I have benefited enormously from collaborations with researchers from diverse geographic locations and disciplinary backgrounds. I have however been lucky that my participation in such collaborations has been supported by my employer, as developing such a collaboration often bears costs, from attendance at conferences to travel and accommodation for visitations at partner institutes. The Association has in the past supported knowledge exchange and the inception of new collaborations through organizing summer schools and through student support for conference attendance. However, I would like to see a dedicated programme of support for worthy collaborative exchange visits to be introduced, providing support both in terms of funding (with an emphasis on students who would otherwise not have the facilities to visit external research labs) and in terms of expanded community introductions.

(3)    Following on from point (2), I see one avenue to expand community knowledge exchange and open doors for possible collaborations through expanding the range of social and networking activities and opportunities in IAOA-supported events. Traditional conference dinners can be overwhelming for newcomers to a community, and what is often more helpful to facilitate introductions are smaller topic-related social events with an emphasis on fun, ice-breaking activities. Should I be elected I would try to work with the organisers of events in order to increase the availability of such activities.

(4)    Finally, should there emerge a need in support of any of the previous points, should I be elected I would be happy to explore additional funding sources for specific social and knowledge exchange programmes, including the usual academic avenues (e.g. grants for specific events) but also through contact with Industry, bearing in mind that in recent years the pharmaceutical industry among many others is starting to take ontology more and more seriously.


In any case, if I were to be elected I would be committed to furthering the work of the Association in any way needed and within my capability.


With sincere regards,




Janna Hastings 

      Email: hastings@xxxxxxxxx | Tel: +44 (0)1223 494411 | Fax: +44 (0)1223 494468

      Twitter: @jannahastings | Web: www.ebi.ac.uk/~hastings | Blog: www.bioontology.ch

Coordinator, Cheminformatics and Metabolism, European Bioinformatics Institute


Visit ChEBI at www.ebi.ac.uk/chebi



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