United States
Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research

Biological Repository for Antarctic Samples - Survey and Workshop

Dear Colleague,

We would like to announce an upcoming NSF-funded workshop with the goals of assessing the current state of biological collections from Antarctica held in the United States, and identifying the value of and need for a repository for Antarctic organisms. In addition to these objectives, workshop participants will explore potential benefits and challenges of such a biological repository, including discussions related to collection organization, accessibility, infrastructure, and the feasibility of a self-sustaining repository(ies), in order to expand our understanding of Antarctic biology and its diverse ecosystems. We aim to bring together biologists working on a variety of taxa and disparate biological problems, museum curators, collections managers and program managers, as well as data scientists to discuss the scope of such a repository.

The workshop is currently scheduled for February 2-4, 2022 for both in-person participants (as well as others who would prefer access via Zoom) at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution), home of the Global Genome Initiative (GGI), with support from the Senior Scientist at GGI, Dr. Jonathan Coddington and its Program Manager, Katharine Barker. Because of the uncertainties associated with the trajectory of Covid-19, the workshop may need to be held at an alternate venue, and even possibly remotely, although we feel strongly that an in-person workshop would be most productive.

Topics for discussion at the workshop will include: specimen management, cataloguing, and accessibility, single versus multiple repositories, financial management, a presentation by Dr. Nico Franz from National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) at Arizona State University, which provides an example of a biorepository supported by NSF, and outreach opportunities.

In preparation for the workshop, we are assessing the current state of Antarctic collections in the U.S., including both personal and museum collections. To do so, we need your help. Please complete this survey by November 15, 2021 to provide us with information about your sample collection, and your thoughts on the need for an Antarctic biological repository. The survey includes questions about the number and type of specimens in your collection and how they are stored and cataloged. Completing the survey will take approximately 15-30 minutes. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of completing the survey in order to help us achieve as complete an analysis as possible.

More information about the workshop can be found here. We invite those interested in attending the workshop to apply for travel support of up to $1200. Applications are due November 15, 2021 and award announcements will be made December 15, 2021.

Thank you for considering this opportunity to provide feedback and participate in the workshop

Kristin O’Brien, Professor (University of Alaska, Fairbanks)
Lisa Crockett, Professor Emerita (Ohio University)

And the Organizing Committee
Katharine Barker (Global Genome Initiative)
Jonathan Coddington (Global Genome Initiative)
Sarah Eppley (Portland State University)
Nico Franz (National Ecological Observatory Network)
Bill Fraser (Polar Oceans Research Group)
Kyndall Hildebrandt (University of Alaska Museum)
Jill Mikucki (University of Tennessee)
Bill Moser (National Museum of Natural History)
Thomas Near (Yale University and Peabody Museum)
Dianne Pitassy (National Museum of Natural History)
Craig Smith (University of Hawaii)