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ScienceOnline2013 – My Love and Affection for this Celebration of Science

28 Jan

This week/weekend I will attend the ScienceOnline2013 conference here in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is my favorite conference of the year, bar none. I feel privileged every time I attend to be surrounded by people who are challenging the status quo and are passionate about making science more available and consumable to their peers and the community. I have met some great people at this conference and every year I walk away tired yet invigorated. I walk away feeling that my own contributions to science, especially my work to enable access to chemistry data, is coherent with the efforts of many of the crowd attending this meeting. The meeting has a commitment to scientific truth, collaboration, communication and openness. YES!!!

While I am a chemist by training what I enjoy so much about the meeting is meeting NON-chemists and learning about their world, their interests, their adventures and challenges. By keeping my head in my own box at many other conferences, primarily chemistry of course, I limit what I can learn from the experiences outside of my domain. ScienceOnline frees me up from these boundaries by throwing me into a mix of wildly different engagement. It is, quite simply, a joy! And coming at the beginning of the year it is the first conference I attend…always good!

The conference is well organized, wall to wall entertainment in various forms (including science comedians!), is socially engaging (lots of opportunities for after hours play!) and is full of “my kind of people”. I am lucky to be so close and, this year, to be able to share space with one of my closest friends. Sean Ekins (@collabchem) and I will host a discussion on “Leading Chemists Into Openness“. Sean and I hung out at the conference last year and it had a good impact on him as he describes here.

If you are attending ScienceOnline2013, are interested in Open Science and the advantages, challenges and “unknowns” of how to get there, then please come and join the conversation. We are the hosts…you define where we go! The slides below are for you to review/consider/digest in advance of the session. See you there???!!!

 

 

About tony

Antony (Tony) J. Williams received his BSc in 1985 from the University of Liverpool (UK) and PhD in 1988 from the University of London (UK). His PhD research interests were in studying the effects of high pressure on molecular motions within lubricant related systems using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. He moved to Ottawa, Canada to work for the National Research Council performing fundamental research on the electron paramagnetic resonance of radicals trapped in single crystals. Following his postdoctoral position he became the NMR Facility Manager for Ottawa University. Tony joined the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York as their NMR Technology Leader. He led the laboratory to develop quality control across multiple spectroscopy labs and helped establish walk-up laboratories providing NMR, LC-MS and other forms of spectroscopy to hundreds of chemists across multiple sites. This included the delivery of spectroscopic data to the desktop, automated processing and his initial interests in computer-assisted structure elucidation (CASE) systems. He also worked with a team to develop the worlds’ first web-based LIMS system, WIMS, capable of allowing chemical structure searching and spectral display. With his developing cheminformatic skills and passion for data management he left corporate America to join a small start-up company working out of Toronto, Canada. He joined ACD/Labs as their NMR Product Manager and various roles, including Chief Science Officer, during his 10 years with the company. His responsibilities included managing over 50 products at one time prior to developing a product management team, managing sales, marketing, technical support and technical services. ACD/Labs was one of Canada’s Fast 50 Tech Companies, and Forbes Fast 500 companies in 2001. His primary passions during his tenure with ACD/Labs was the continued adoption of web-based technologies and developing automated structure verification and elucidation platforms. While at ACD/Labs he suggested the possibility of developing a public resource for chemists attempting to integrate internet available chemical data. He finally pursued this vision with some close friends as a hobby project in the evenings and the result was the ChemSpider database (www.chemspider.com). Even while running out of a basement on hand built servers the website developed a large community following that eventually culminated in the acquisition of the website by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) based in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Tony joined the organization, together with some of the other ChemSpider team, and became their Vice President of Strategic Development. At RSC he continued to develop cheminformatics tools, specifically ChemSpider, and was the technical lead for the chemistry aspects of the Open PHACTS project (http://www.openphacts.org), a project focused on the delivery of open data, open source and open systems to support the pharmaceutical sciences. He was also the technical lead for the UK National Chemical Database Service (http://cds.rsc.org/) and the RSC lead for the PharmaSea project (http://www.pharma-sea.eu/) attempting to identify novel natural products from the ocean. He left RSC in 2015 to become a Computational Chemist in the National Center of Computational Toxicology at the Environmental Protection Agency where he is bringing his skills to bear working with a team on the delivery of a new software architecture for the management and delivery of data, algorithms and visualization tools. The “Chemistry Dashboard” was released on April 1st, no fooling, at https://comptox.epa.gov, and provides access to over 700,000 chemicals, experimental and predicted properties and a developing link network to support the environmental sciences. Tony remains passionate about computer-assisted structure elucidation and verification approaches and continues to publish in this area. He is also passionate about teaching scientists to benefit from the developing array of social networking tools for scientists and is known as the ChemConnector on the networks. Over the years he has had adjunct roles at a number of institutions and presently enjoys working with scientists at both UNC Chapel Hill and NC State University. He is widely published with over 200 papers and book chapters and was the recipient of the Jim Gray Award for eScience in 2012. In 2016 he was awarded the North Carolina ACS Distinguished Speaker Award.

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