What preys on nutria?*

If that is a question you want answered, try Global Biotic Interactions. From the people that brought us the Encyclopedia of Life, GLoBI is an interface that allows the user to access species interaction data collected by biologists and researchers all over the world.  Some pretty cool projects have been done with GloBI, including an interactive ecosystem explorer.

*Nutria, aka Coypu (Myocastor coypus), are preyed on by the American alligator and the grey heron.

GIS Day 2017!

As it does every year, GIS Day snuck up on me! From the GIS Day page, you can see local events as well as some really cool visualization/data projects (My favorites are the 100 Years of the NPS and Lakota Language). ESRI’s GeoNet community will also lead you to some interesting information. One of my favorite non-science databases is Social Explorer, which allows you to visually explore all types of demographic data. Other cool/interesting sites include:

  • Atlas of Early Printing: an interactive timeline that traces the spread of printing in conjunction with trade routes, paper mills and other factors.
  • Atlas of the Biosphere: Provides visualized information about the environment and human interactions with the environment.It contains maps with geographically explicit data broken down into four general categories (Humans, Land Use, Ecosystems, and Water Resources) and animated schematics that look at the various resource flows and pools that make up individual Earth systems.
  • CityNature combines spatial analysis of parks and other natural areas in cities with text mining of planning documents and published historical narratives to explore why.
  • HealthMap: deliver real-time intelligence on a broad range of emerging infectious diseases. (Spoiler alert: Either we are pretty lucky in PDX or our outbreaks aren’t getting reported.)
  • Herodotus’s Histories: all the place names mapped so you can follow in Herodotus’s footsteps. Virtually.
  • Landscope America & other NatureServe maps: brings together maps, data, photos, and stories about America’s natural places and open spaces to inform and inspire conservation.
  • Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America: I’m not sure this one really needs an explanation. Looking at the area description/security map of each area makes me sad.
  • National Geologic Map Database: a distributed archive of standardized geoscience information.
  • Racial Dot Map: an accessible visualization of geographic distribution, population density, and racial diversity of the American people in every neighborhood in the entire country.
  • ShakeMap: from the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program. An accessible visualization of geographic distribution, population density, and racial diversity of the American people in every neighborhood in the entire country.

Looking for books about GIS? Try some of these:
Encyclopedia of GIS
Qualitative GIS: A mixed Methods Approach
GIS Research Methods: Incorporating Spatial Perspectives
A Primer of GIS
The Spatial Humanities GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship

Happy 150th Birthday, Madame Curie!

On the 150th anniversary of Marie Curie’s birth, I thought I would share a few interesting tidbits about her that I had learned a few years ago at an AAAS session celebrating the 100th anniversary of her Nobel Prize:

  • Her second paper was the first time the word “radioactive” was used in the literature (and was probably the birth of radio chemistry).1
  • she chose not to patent her work because she felt all scientific research should be freely available to the public.2
  • In 1910 she applied to the French Academy of Sciences. She lost by 2 votes and then refused to ever publish in their journals again.3

Read a book by or about this great woman:

Preston, D. (2005). Before the fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima. New York: Walker & Co. (Q175.5 .P74 2005)

Quinn, S. (1995). Marie Curie: A life. New York: Simon & Schuster. (QD22 .C8Q56 1995)

Curie, M. (1961). Radioactive substances: A translation from the French of the classical thesis presented to the Faculty of Sciences in Paris by the distinguished Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie. New York: Philosophical Library.(QC795 .C823)

Emling, S. (2012). Marie Curie and her daughters: The private lives of science’s first family (First ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. (QD22.C8 E46 2012)

Curie, Eve, & Sheean, Vincent. (1937). Madame Curie: A biography (Da Capo series in science). Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran & Company. (QD22.C8 C85 1937)

1Byers, N., & Williams, Gary A. (2006). Out of the shadows : Contributions of twentieth-century women to physics. Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 4, Marie Curie (1867 – 1934), reproduced here.)

2Valentinuzzi, ME. (2017) Three Outstanding Women in Science. IEEE Pulse, September/October:57.

a name=”three”>3“JAN. 23, 1911: SCIENCE ACADEMY TELLS MARIE CURIE, ‘NON'”. Wired.

Happy Birthday, Frankenstein’s Monster

The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project: Science Fiction as a Lens for Examining Science and Society Issues

2018 will be the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which is considered the first science fiction story and Shelly’s polemic on what was happening in the world at that time.

The speakers, Bob Beard and Peter Nagy, both from the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, talk about the projects they embark on for the Frankenstein Bicentennial Project as a tool to engage the public in conversations about science *in* society.


  • Transmedia–Frankenstein is reproduced in almost all forms of media
  • Intertextual reference–can be a story about the environment, loneliness, hubris, science ethics

(Transmedia is a 21st century skill. How we access the information effects how we evaluate it.)


Frankenstein 200

The project has 3 parts:

  1. Workbench has activities designed for use at home
  2. Footlocker is a tabletop kit for museums that will help learners develop STEM interest, developed digital literacy, and raise awareness of issues around science and society (example: use pool noodle & motor to design the Scribbler: who is responsible for writing on the table? The Scribbler or who was controlling the Scribbler?)
  3. ARGH–an alternate reality game that combines digital narrative with real world on/off ramps.

Takeaways & final thoughts:

  1. Science artifacts for critical reflection: make people think through the impact of their creations.Being accountable beyond what you best interests are.
  2. Science identity development through playful engagement.
  3. So much of our fiction can be a Frankenstein story!
  4. There are unexpected Frankenstein’s everywhere!
  5. There is an open edition of Frankenstein has lenses by disciplines. (Except I can’t find it! Comment here if you do!)



Opening Session: Lulu Miller

You typically won’t find me in general opening/closing sessions at conferences…something about the endless awards and the “How Great Are We” presentations in a crowd of 1500 people just doesn’t do it for me. SLA 2017 lured me in, however, with Lulu Miller! One of my favorite NPR programs is Invisabilia, hosted by Lulu, so I had to go!

Miller began with an interesting story about the late Robert W. P. Cutler, retired Stanford professor, who had been doing some research on mining in the library archives when he found a bill from the Henry Morse Detective Agency related to the death of Jane Stanford (whom it was believed had died on natural causes). Much research & work with librarians later, Cutler published The Mysterious Death of Jane Stanford…I won’t reveal what happened (although Miller did), read the book!

Another story involved a small town in Belgium that took in mentally ill strangers so they would have someplace to live and learn to be productive. (Invisabilia story here; JAMA article here.)

She went on to talk about issues facing journalists…including  the desire for a “good” story, herding, and the problems with oversimplifying (“The act of journalism is simplifying”).

Finally, she presented what she felt were tangible ways we as librarians could help “engineer” the research process. Among them were:

  • Do your job worse! Disobeying your research instructions, providing outside-the-box info. Be disobedient for 10 minutes a day! Librarians and disobedience seem to go hand in hand.
  • throw in 1 wildcard for your researchers; add in one thing (database, article, keyword) that might set them off in a new direction.
  • Create more serendipity! Use the Kafka method: Confusion primes the brain and makes you alert to the world.


Resources mentioned:

Cutler, R. W. P. (2003). The Mysterious Death of Jane Stanford. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford General Books.


Wearable Technology

Library Applications for Wearable Technology and the Internet of Things

Although I expected this session to be about practical ways to take advantage of wearable technology, it was  more an overview of what wearable technologies are out there and why we (librarians) should care. The speaker, Tom Bruno is popularly known as the Google Glass Guy around Harvard, MIT & Yale.


  • “The Fad Factor”– librarians love to jump on the technology bandwagon even before there is a known value.
  • Wearable technology feeds the impulse to augment humanity (armor, glasses)
  • Bought 3 google glass for his library. Users have to write project proposal about what they want to do with it. This helped manage expectations. (Had a Google Glass Petty Zoo to introduce).
  • Privacy is a big deal with wearable technology…be mindful!
  • Go Pros: GET ONE! Easy to use.
  • YOUmedia (Chicago Public)–teen digital learning space

Big question: how do we ensure that our digital services are easily discoverable and usable by our patron base? Using things like NFC, QR codes, and iBeacons (BluuBeam), but it is all QR codes all over again…smartphones can’t read QR codes without another app! (See Andrew Wilson’s article in Journal of Access Services & The QR Code Minute with JP and PC)

Google Cardboard for the win! It can turn almost any smartphone into a Virtual Reality headset.

So there is Augmentive Reality vs. Virtual Reality vs. Blended Reality. Which should we support? Libraries need to be a place where patrons can discover….


Books mentioned:

Bruno, T. (2015). Wearable technology : Smart watches to google glass for libraries. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.