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2017 Global Summit Panel Explores the Sociological and Cultural Challenges of Research Engagement

Apr 12, 2017, by Sara Aly
Tags: 2017 Internet2 Global Summit, Frontpage News, International, International Community, International Partners

Imagine working in a lab, testing new cancer treatments, wondering if the results of your experiments would yield the next-generation of cancer cures. You are in the midst of a crucial phase of this experiment where over the last year, you have been working full time to achieve results on 20 different experiments.

However, if you had access to high-throughput screening equipment for biological process imaging, you would be able to accelerate your experiments ten to hundred fold. You would be able to automate parts of your research, provide more stability and reproducibility for your experiments, extract more data, write more insightful papers, collaborate more with researchers, and publish and share your data more quickly.

But often times researchers don’t have easy access to such equipment and tools that could help bring all these stages of the experiment together with the technology solutions.

In the perfect situation where research can be accelerated by incorporating and coupling technology solutions to the scientific process, e-infrastructure organizations and facilities can connect researchers with the technology they need such as compute, network and storage resources. The experiment-to-result timeframe could be shortened, giving the researcher more time to interpret the results, collaborate and perform additional experiments.

“Sociological and cultural challenges still remain to clear the path for researchers to excel and collaborate in this environment. There still seems to be a disconnect with the more pressing problems researchers face and the information and communication technology problems they could face at a later stage. This is something we hear across countries and cultures/research disciplines,” says Sylvia Kuijpers of SURFnet and chair of the international Task Force on Research Engagement Development.

The e-infrastructure community, which comprises network, compute and data facilities, has been working on strategies to support researchers over the past decade. However, there is still a large gap between the research, technology, tools and resources.

“Our community has made strides to provide more integrated and holistic services in support of researchers - however, many challenges remain. While many look to the technical challenges that must be solved (e.g. software, workflows, etc), we must also consider the cultural and sociological factors that impact adoption of new technology by end users,” says Jakob Tendel of DFN, responsible for international projects and research engagement. “We are aiming to shape a research landscape with seamless adoption of network, compute, and storage resources.”

During the session entitled “Exploring the Sociological and Cultural Challenges of International Research Engagement” at the 2017 Internet2 Global Summit meeting to be held in Washington, D.C. from April 23-26, a panel of research engagement experts will discuss how they are working together across different cultural and sociological backgrounds, both within the e-infrastructure community and the research domains they support, to achieve the goal of enabling seamless end-to-end collaboration.