Nico Franz

The School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering (SICE) Information & Library Science Colloquium Series



Speaker: Nico Franz

Where: Luddy Hall 0117

When: Friday, April 26, 2019, 9:30am

Topic: “Discover, monitor, publish, disagree, align: Advancing the social design of biodiversity data science”



Abstract: I will provide an overview of current projects and aims connected to Arizona State University’s Biodiversity Knowledge Integration Center (BioKIC). At the core, our focus is on shifting value systems embedded in  biodiversity data aggregation paradigms towards new designs that provide more freedom and power for individual systematic experts or enthusiasts to advance their interests and (ultimately) careers. We focus this approach on two interconnected domains: (1) occurrence-based biodiversity collections platforms and (2) multi-classification alignment tools. In the former case, the Symbiota software platform ( will be demonstrated and discussed. Initially built to feature data from collections whose primary focus is on discovery, Symbiota now also functions as the platform for the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Biorepository. The latter, being developed at ASU, has a monitoring focus. The discover/monitor gradient opens up intriguing new biodiversity data science dimensions. In the latter case, our logic-based multi-classification alignment tools ( challenge the role of “backbones” typically used to structure biodiversity data. “Data intelligence” in this context means having the syntactic ability to contextualize evolving taxonomic knowledge – whether congruent or conflicting – and to propagate bottom-up, expert-authored perspectives to achieve a coordinative consensus.


Bio: Nico Franz studies systematics and evolutionary history of weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionoidea) His field- and collection-based systematics research focuses on Neotropical and Sonoran species groups. He is also a leading proponent of the taxonomic concept approach — a novel, logic-enabled method that organizes taxonomic names explicitly in relation to their knowledge context, leading to a computer-processable system for tracking changes among classifications and phylogenies. Franz is an academic leader of the popular Symbiota software platform for bio-collections data. At ASU, he is the curator of the Hasbrouck Insect Collection, founding director of the Biodiversity Knowledge Integration Center (BioKIC), and (since January, 2019) director of Biocollections. He serves as principal investigator of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Biorepository at ASU.