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Future of Digital Research - Dr Thomas Etherington

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-01-31, 03:27 authored by Thomas EtheringtonThomas Etherington
Dr Thomas Etherington - a geoinformatician and ecologist at Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, a member of New Zealand Ecological Society, and a fellow of Software Sustainability Institute.

His research is interdisciplinary, using computational methods to examine environmental questions and problems through the combination of theories and methods from geography and ecology. He has deep interest in sustainable software – reproducible and open science, and how researchers interact with data. He says that although recent colleagues probably wouldn’t believe it, in the distant past he even spent time in the field tracking badgers and bears.

In this thought piece he shares the challenges of the future where the researchers must work with big data and data from various non-traditional sources. Some of these may be citizen science data where data is much less structured, and hence traditional forms of data analysis are inappropriate. There will be much effort required moving forward working with big data in non-conventional ways.

He also shares the necessity of interdisciplinary nature of his research, and that it is crucial to build common vocabulary to be able to ask the right questions across people with different expertise.



What are the opportunities and challenges around advanced computing for NZ's research communities 5 to 7 years in the future?

NeSI has reached out to various research leaders in New Zealand for the answer to this question.

This document is the first of many thought pieces to come. We have Dr Thomas Etherington, who has commented on the research being done with his colleagues at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.


New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI) enables researchers across a wide range of communities and disciplines to tackle large or highly complicated problems and to investigate scientific challenges that were previously impossible. NeSI makes approaching these problems easier for researchers through offering a specialised platform of computational and analytics software and services powered by supercomputers, and placing a strong emphasis on support and training alongside the raw power of its technology platform. NeSI is a collaboration of the University of Auckland, the University of Otago, Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, NIWA, and MBIE.


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