New informatics director at the Biodiversity Centre

David Shorthouse has joined the staff of the Biodiversity Centre as informatics director for the Canadensys network. He received his M.Sc. from Laurentian University in Sudbury (Ontario), where he studied the diversity of terrestrial spiders as an indicator of the effectiveness of mining site rehabilitation. Discovering a passion for disseminating taxonomic information through the internet, he learned database development and became a web programmer. At the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole (Massachusetts), he was director of development for several biodiversity informatics projects linked to the prestigious American network, the Encyclopedia of Life. He has also worked as an informatics analyst for the Global Names and Data Conservancy projects, which link species’ scientific names to those of researchers who have described them. In his new position at the Biodiversity Centre, he will coordinate the networking of data from biological collections, to make them accessible to the public through the web.

David replaces Peter Desmet, who held this position from 2008 to 2012. Peter conceived and developed the structure of the Canadensys network and its portal, including a validated, documented list of all Canadian vascular plants (VASCAN), a monumental achievement. In addition to his work in informatics, Peter established relationships linking network members, and organized several workshops. Along with team members, he developed the Canadensys explorer, which makes it possible to search, sort and download data from Canadensys and to visualize it on interactive maps. Peter has returned to Belgium, where he holds the position of coordinator for LifeWatch, a project of the Research Institute for Nature and Forest.