Background and vision statements

Image by Nathan Dumlao


Elycia Wallis - Atlas of Living Australia, CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia

ORCID logo0000-0001-6017-0894


My original background was in neurophysiology of crustaceans, studying fascinating critters in Australia and Canada. Crustaceans, but not neurophysiology, led me to a role as Collection Manager at Museums Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, where I continued to work for over 20 years. During those years I discovered interests in collection management, database management, libraries and public information, and online collections. I broadened my knowledge from natural sciences to social history and material culture. I discovered passions in open access, digitisation, and openly sharing collections and research information. I led projects including the development of Museum Victoria’s Collections Online website and the Field Guide apps for Australia

I have now joined the Atlas of Living Australia team as the Collections Community Engagement Manager and leader of the Projects team. As Engagement Manager, I work with the Museums and Herbaria around Australia and New Zealand to share knowledge and work to continuously improve data standards, data pipelines, and data quality.

My other passion is for the Biodiversity Heritage Library and I led the Australian project for a number of years. The Australian BHL has always been proud of the amount it has achieved with a small staff and a number of fabulous volunteers and continues to go from strength to strength.


The advantages of technology are many, but one that we haven’t yet fully overcome is the challenge of timezones and distance. I am often amazed at being able to talk with – and see – colleagues on the other side of the world and think that we are all the richer for being able to communicate in a way that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Timezones being what they are that communication does come at a price – which is usually a very early morning for some, and a late night for others. My initial focus will be on communication within the Oceania region; and I will work hard to ensure that the work of TDWG is disseminated widely and that I can represent the interests of the region back to the TDWG Executive.

Deputy Chair

David Bloom - VertNet, Berkeley, CA

ORCID logo0000-0003-1273-1807


I have been the VertNet project manager since 2010, with 15 years of prior experience working in natural history and science museums. Currently, I am the VertNet Node Manager to GBIF (since 2016), serve as the GBIF Regional Representative for North America and support the global biodiversity community of practice as a guide, trainer, mentor, and Open Data Ambassador. I work with data publishers and biodiversity-focused projects in every global region. My participation with TDWG is closely tied to my work with VertNet and GBIF, with contributions to the maintenance of the Darwin Core, the creation of the Latimer Core, and participation on several work and interest groups since 2016. I have conducted more than 70 workshops globally on biodiversity informatics ranging from georeferencing to data publishing and the use of biodiversity data.


As a professional (and a not-so professional) I have devoted my time and effort to the discovery, development, and implementation of tools, services, and solutions to make the lives of people who work with, and learn about, biodiversity data more productive and efficient. As Deputy Chair of TDWG I intend to continue these efforts and to focus my activities on TDWG’s on-going initiatives. I am keen to understand and apply the lessons learned about participation in and collaboration through TDWG during the Covid years. In particular, I want to focus on the ways in which TDWG engages with the community to share knowledge and get work done. I want to retain and expand the participation of people online while respecting the time and money of those people able to participate in person so that we can make the most of both of these communities. I am especially interested to find ways to help TDWG value the efforts of those individuals and groups that do the work to develop, maintain and expand the standards that bring us all together. Finally, I believe it is in the interest of the TDWG community to find ways to engage with traditional, indigenous and local knowledge holders and to find ways to further integrate their perspectives, needs, and experiences into TDWG workflows and products.


Visotheary Ung - Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France

ORCID logo0000-0002-4049-0820


I am a biologist by training, I have a masters degree in population genetics but started my professional career at the CNRS (French national center of scientific research) working as a network and systems administrator for 7 years. In 2007, I came back to my first love in science: Systematics, and in 2008 started to attend TDWG meetings as the scientific communication officer for the Xper research group in Paris. In that role, I had the chance to be involved in European projects (EDIT and ViBRANT) which showed me that collaborative work is the key to success. At the same time, I started a PhD on Southeast Asian biogeography and methodology for comparative biogeography which I defended in 2013. I am now a biodiversity informatics project manager and biogeographer based at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris.

I am French and grew up in Paris, but was born in Phnom-Penh (Cambodia). I am very proud of my dual culture, which I see as a richness and I am convinced of its good influence on me. Being part of two different cultures, two different worlds has taught me that it is always possible to build bridges, to bring people together. This is exactly what TDWG is about: to bring together biologists, scientists and developers with the purpose of providing the whole community with standards, best practices and tools.


My first TDWG meeting was in 2008 in Fremantle and I have not missed one ever since. I am thrilled to be more involved in TDWG activities. As Secretary, I will focus on maintaining good communications within our community: among the Executive Committee, members of TDWG Interest and Task Groups and users of TDWG standards.

I see my role as a connecting hub between everyone, providing clear communication about our processes (creation and use of TDWG standards) and documentation. I have a will to support all members of the Executive Committee, especially our chair and hope to be a good proxy.

I strongly believe that standards are essential to improve biodiversity data sharing and implementing interoperability of software and systems. TDWG standards have been key to my own research and I will continue pushing forward their use within my research community, locally at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle and on a larger scale to the French scientific community.


To Be Appointed. David Bloom, Acting Treasurer. (See Deputy Chair above.)

Subcommittee chairs

Technical Architecture Group

Ben Norton - Ecosystem, Planning, and Restoration; Raleigh, NC, USA

ORCID logo0000-0002-5819-9134


As a dedicated, mission-driven, and determined individual, leading efforts that turn ideas into realities through technology has been a central theme of my career since the very beginning. The Technical Architecture Group chair position is at the apex of this endeavor. The TAG is an engine of progress, ingenuity, and support that impacts activities across the TDWG organization. The opportunities to extend this pivotal role are immense.

Over the past 15 years, I have chartered an Interdisciplinary and multi-functional career path at the intersection of science and technology. Today, this pathway has materialized into an extensive technical skill set with domain expertise in several scientific fields in both an academic and professional capacity. I’ve built dozens of data-driven, web-based technologies across numerous scientific disciplines, including online search portals, data publishing platforms, and small and large-scale collections management systems.

In 2020, I became an active member of TDWG. Three years later, I’m the current deputy chair of the Technical Architecture Group, co-convener of the Mineralogy Extension Task Group, review manager of Latimer Core, and contributor to Minimum Information about a Digital Specimen (MIDS) and Camtrap DP. I’ve had the honor of publishing best practices guides, presenting and hosting symposiums at annual conferences, and providing technical guidance to efforts across the organization. In collaboration with the current TAG chair, I’m developing tools to streamline the publication of standards documentation in tandem with the existing RDF TDWG workflow. This effort has immense potential to improve the organization’s operations for years.


I envision a more significant and strategic support role for TAG with a prioritization of the following ongoing efforts:

  1. Assure that the work initiated and led by the current chair continues and, where possible, see the activity through to completion.
  2. Expand the TDWG Technical Recommendations, beginning with two best practice guides that address the use of complex values and SKOS mappings in data standards.
  3. Deploy an automated tool for generating web-based standards documentation that operates in tandem with the current RDF workflow.
  4. Develop a strategy to provide targeted support to individual Task and Interest Groups within the current confines of TAG member obligations.
  5. Complete the reorganization of current and past data standards under the stewardship of TDWG.
  6. Continue to broaden and diversify TDWG membership, focusing on underrepresented populations and gaps in domain expertise.

Fundraising and Partnerships

Patricia Mergen - Botanical Garden, Meise; Royal Museum of Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium

ORCID logo0000-0003-2848-8231

As a member of the Association of International Associations based in Belgium and many contacts with the “Meet in” or “visit” or “Tourism” (town, country) I am happy to have TDWG continue to benefit from those connections to find support for venues. Additionally the contacts with the local scientific, technical potential hosts is very important within our network.

If elected, I would continue to act as a relay between potential hosts and TDWG Executive. The goal remains to have venues identified on a 3 to 5 years horizon. I would also continue to push Regional Representatives to play a bigger role in this committee and other TDWG members to mobilise participation to TDWG in their regions and participate to the annual conference and also to become active in the TG and IG.


Tim Robertson - Global Biodiversity Information Facility Secretariat, Copenhagen, Denmark

ORCID logo0000-0001-6215-3617


I currently act as the chair for the FS for Infrastructure and – along with the members of the group – wrote the current mission and responsibilities of the group which I believe are still relevant.

During my time leading this group we have reworked the TDWG website and assisted TDWG in reorganizing its activities to make maximum use of GitHub.

I oversee the informatics activities of the GBIF Secretariat, and we accommodate TDWG needs within the role of our team which includes the operation and updating of mailing lists, websites etc.

A (deliberately modest) vision

The TDWG community require a stable and simple infrastructure that is intuitive to use. The recent adoption of GitHub for the working groups and website content, along with the mailing lists, tools for conference registration and our journal partnership are – in my opinion – the correct level of infrastructure for TDWG to operate effectively. I see the current role of the committee to continue ensuring the existing processes operate smoothly and be ready to explore emerging needs, but do not see it necessary to make significant changes at this point.

Outreach and Communications

Mareike Petersen - Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin

ORCID logo0000-0001-8666-1931


For the past six years, I have been involved in various national and international research projects to improve access to and use of natural science collections. I am interested in advancing data linkage mechanisms and optimizing the management of research and collection data and its open access. I am a biologist by training with a scientific background in herpetology (amphibian ecology and taxonomy). At the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (MfN), I work on the mobilization of content to subject-specific and cross-domain portals (e.g. GBIF or Europeana), open access to research data, and on the application and further development of data standards (e.g. in the context of TDWG). Recently, I am strongly involved in the multifaceted information management linked to the digitization project of MfNs’ collections and in the development and establishment of the European research infrastructure DiSSCo (e.g. leading Work package and tasks in DiSSCo Prepare, contributing to Synthesys+).

In order to open up information from research processes and information about objects in research collections, to enrich it semantically, and to make it accessible for further use, I bridge the gap between the requirements of research, management of research collections, and the technical implementation by developers. Solving these tasks in an interdisciplinary team is often challenging, but at the same time, it enriches my daily work.


I am enthusiastic about TDWG complexity and member several Interest and Task Groups. Some of them are regularly crossing the border of biodiversity informatics and reach out to the managers and users of natural science collections. Outreach and communication thus being usual tasks for my work in TDWG.

As a chair of the subcommittee ‘Communications and Outreach’, I will work on a better visibility of TDWG, its standards and their application, importantly also beyond the biodiversity informatics and natural science domain. Together with the whole subcommittee, I will prepare new communication material and use innovative tools to transport TDWGs’ key messages and achievements to stakeholders and potential new user groups around the world. This will help us to reach out to new members, even in in current times, where travelling and meetings in person are limited or impossible at all.

Time and Place

Kristen “Kit” Lewers - Information Science and BioFrontiers Institute, University of Colorado Boulder, and iDigBio, University of Florida, USA.

ORCID logo0000-0003-0526-4075


My background in biodiversity started in undergrad spending a summer in Yellowstone National Park researching the social and environmental impacts of trophic cascade disruption focused on the re-introduction of gray wolves(canis lupus). After graduation, my summer in Yellowstone turned into three years of living in the park and being surrounded by one of the most intact ecosystems in the United States which was still plagued by its own imbalances. I decided I wanted to further my education and career in biodiversity informatics to understand the systems around me.

I am currently pursuing my PhD at CU Boulder in Information Science and Interdisciplinary Quantitative Biology where I study many things, but the main question is how information overload impacts institutions grounded in big data focused on biocollections. Through mixed methods, this research aims to assist other researchers, citizen scientists, and stakeholders in dealing with big, complex, and unharmonized data in addition to identifying silos in traditional disciplinary practices.

Current projects include: developing analysis software to detect structural variants on the human genome from high throughput read data, data harmonization of GBIF and iDigBio records for remote sensing with drones, developing “Computational Genomics for Everyone” coursework, AI mediated interventions to prevent information overload, and Colorado Firefly Monitoring + Complex System Modeling of Synchronicity. I love to talk to people so feel free to reach out to chat about anything and everything!


My passion is interdisciplinary work and strong networks of collaboration to create a thriving biodiversity informatics research community. I am constantly grateful for the knowledge and welcoming community that TDWG offers. I want for more individuals, teams, and organizations to experience our amazing culture so it is my vision as the Time and Place Committee Chair for TDWG to become embedded in other communities of research involving biodiversity and making data driven decisions of where to best hold our conferences to maximize accessibility, visibility, and involvement.

Regional Representatives

Africa Representative

Ian Englebrecht - Natural Science Collections Facility, South Africa


I am currently employed with the Natural Science Collections Facility ( in a capacity to coordinate digitization of museum and herbarium collections in South Africa, as well as driving skills development for biodiversity informatics within this community. My primary training is as a conservation biologist and arachnologist. I have a special interest in taxonomy of scorpions and mygalomorph spiders, and completed my PhD in 2015 through the University of Pretoria. I have a long standing interest in information systems and how they support decision making and knowledge management, and studied programming part time early in my career. I have worked in museum institutions, government conservation agencies, and the private sector. I currently participate in the TDWG Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meetings with an interest in APIs and identifiers. I especially enjoy developing software tools and utilities to aid with data management tasks, and teaching others to do the same.


My vision is a vibrant African specimen collections digitization and biodiversity informatics community that shares and publishes data willingly and openly. Skills and capacity development are in my view the most important priorities for achieving this vision. I see participation in TDWG events, as well as others such as the iDigBio events, as an essential part of this capacity development process, and would value the opportunity to play a role in broadening participation and interest in TDWG activities within the wider African community. I also hope that my experience and technical background would bring some value to the TDWG Executive Committee in achieving its goals and objectives.

Asia Representative

(A single seat on the Executive Committee is shared by Barve and Nakazato.)

Vijay Barve - Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, CA, USA

ORCID logo0000-0002-4852-2567


I work as Digitization Project Manager for DigIn (Documenting Marine Biodiversity through Digitization of Invertebrate Collections). I got my master degree in Computer science from India and joined a non profit organization, contributing in Medicinal Plants Documentation and Conservation Issues. I developed interest in Biodiversity Informatics and joined a PhD program in Geography at University of Kansas. My doctoral research focused on Citizen’s contribution to Biodiversity data generation. After receiving my PhD, I worked with the Florida Museum of Natural History and Purdue University as a postdoctoral researcher, and continued to work on Biodiversity Informatics. My research interest is Citizen Science in Biodiversity and has several research publications on that theme. I have been coordinating several Citizen Science initiatives in India in the field of Biodiversity. I am recipient of the GBIF Young Researcher award during his doctoral research and two times member of the team receiving the GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Award. I have been training participants from several countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas in Biodiversity Informatics and have been mentoring students for Google Summer of Code. I have been part of the GBIF regional support team for Asia and have worked with several teams of biodiversity researchers to help publish data on GBIF. I am a contributor to Audubon Core Data standard and a member of the Program Committee for TDWG 2021 and 2022.


Biodiversity Informatics use and users in Asia are growing. GBIF data usage statistics shows Asian countries in the top ten, but the engagement of these researchers in the TDWG community is minimal. To fill this gap, we need to reach out to the community through appropriate forums and raise awareness regarding the data standards and practices TDWG is developing and promoting. I am working with several institutions and researchers in Asia and Africa already. Serving as Asia Representative would give me more opportunities to reach out to the community and engage them with TDWG. I would continue to help organize Asia and Global south focused symposia in upcoming TDWG conferences.

Takeru Nakazato - Database Center for Life Science, Mishima, Japan

ORCID logo0000-0002-0706-2867


I work as a researcher at the Database Center for Life Science (DBCLS) in Japan. DBCLS is a sister institute of DNA Data Bank of Japan (DDBJ), the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (INSDC) member. The mission of DBCLS is to increase the accessibility of data related to DNA sequences. We develop web services using Semantic Web techonology, create tutorial movies, and organize an annual hackathon. I am involved in the development of a search engine for public next-generation sequencing (NGS) data collected by INSDC. These data related to DNA sequences are becoming important in biodiversity, such as DNA barcoding and genome sequence, and I will contribute to the TDWG to the collaboration with these data. My original background was molecular biology. I earned my master’s degree by studying physiology and molecular mechanisms of fishes that can live in both freshwater and seawater. I also obtained my Ph.D. in information science with the development of methods for interpreting a large amount of gene expression data from biological aspects. And I am also a citizen scientist. I collect, raise, and mount butterflies and beetles on my own. I am also deeply involved in the community to promote biodiversity informatics in Japan, working with researchers in bioinformatics and natural history museums.


The activities of TDWG are open to the world. Unfortunately, however, only a small number of participants from Asia attended the annual meeting in recent years. As TDWG Asia Representative, I will increase the number of people in Asia who are interested in TDWG’s activities and enhance the presence of Asia’s rich biodiversity. Currently, I specialize in bioinformatics and work to improve the accessibility of data related to DNA sequences. Bioinformatics and biodiversity informatics face the same challenges of standardization of data but have tried to solve them individually. By acting as a bridge between these, I will contribute to making it easier for researchers to approach life science data from various aspects.

Europe Representative

Laurence Livermore - The Natural History Museum, London

ORCID logo0000-0002-7341-1842


I am passionate about open data and increasing collaboration and community building to enable better data mobilisation from natural history collections. I have been working on community projects in Europe for over ten years, including two iterations of the EC-funded SYNTHESYS projects, ICEDIG, DiSSCo Prepare and Mobilise projects. Recently, this has included the proposal writing and leading the collaborative development of Specimen Data Refinery platform in SYNTHESYS+ and the managing the creation of Digitisation Guides for DiSSCo Prepare.

I am an active participant in SPNHC and CETAF (especially the Digitisation Working Group), and intend to remain active during my potential tenure. I have extensive experience of collaboration outside of Europe, including delivering e-taxonomy training in four continents, delivering a GBIF BID workshop in Jamaica, and digitisation of Malaysian collections as part of national digitisation initiative. I attended my first TDWG conference in 2014 (slides), and have attended all in-person European conferences since (2019 and 2022). Both myself and my digitisation team use TDWG standards on a day-to-day basis in our projects and are keen to give more user feedback on implementation and use.

I am an experienced editor of formal publications (Zootaxa, ZooKeys, BDJ) and for special collections. For examples of community presentations and outreach see my Figshare profile.


There are multiple exciting initiatives across Europe which will benefit from global connectivity, including the continued development of DiSSCo and the establishment of national DiSSCo nodes.

As Regional Representative for Europe, I would maintain and strengthen connections between the other Regional Representatives and promote TDWG’s role in developing and promoting the use of biodiversity data standards. DiSSCo, and related initiatives around the world (e.g., GBIFs regional programmes, iDigBio, and ALA), are more effective and efficient when they collaborate and share approaches. Our community still has more to gain from establishing more shared practices, protocols, and training programmes. I would like to promote the co-development of more regional initiatives, or at least help connect people and initiatives that have the potential to benefit by working together.

I am keen to promote wider participation in SPNHC and will ensure TDWG’s work is brought to CETAF’s Digitisation Working Group and Information Science and Technology Committee. Over the next two years I will be working to develop the DiSSCo-UK node and want to ensure that our work benefits the wider community, that we implement TDWG standards, and encourage wider participation in TDWG activities.

Latin America Representative

(To Be Appointed.)

North America Representative

Chandra Earl - NEON Biorepository, Biodiversity Knowledge Integration Center, Arizona State University (residing in Honolulu, Hawaii)

ORCID logo0000-0001-9850-882X


I currently work as the primary software developer and biodiversity informatician for the NEON Biorepository, ensuring implementation of FAIR principles in data management, quality, integration and access of NEON sample data. I also hold a consultancy contract with UNESCO and OBIS as an eDNA scientific officer working on a citizen-science project which aims to determine the richness of fish species across 25 World Heritage Sites using a metabarcoding approach. Previously, I held the Joshua M. Copus Memorial Fellowship at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, where I worked closely with informaticians, collection managers, researchers and students across six major research museums to digitize, enhance, and mobilize specimen information for endangered Hawaiian species.

I recieved my graduate degree in Genetics & Genomics from the Univerity of Florida, where my dissertation research focused on building tools for “big data” biodiversity analyses, specifically genomics, machine learning and diversification metrices. Part of this work was in collaboration with the Data Science Lab at the Smithsonian. Due to this, I maintain an ongoing Research Affiliation with the Florida Museum of Natural History.

The theme of my personal research is focused on large-scale biodiversity data and analyses using natural history collections and as such I have broad experiences with developing pipelines for phylogenetics, bioinformatics, machine learning, geographic modelling, and digitized specimen mobilization. I enjoy collaborating with others on their personal research projects and have contributed to various biodiversity initiatives spanning across taxonomic scales, including insects, mollusks, plants, mammals and fish. One day I’ll get to birds and herps…maybe.


I aim to continue advancing my expertise at the intersection of biodiversity, data science and genetics by engaging in collaborative and interdisciplinary research. This involves both utilizing and developing computational methods and tools to explore, integrate and visualize collections data to help address biological hypotheses. Additionally, I aspire to play an active role in shaping the future of biological data science by mentoring students and advocating for FAIR data practices across TDWG and the biodiversity informatics community.

Oceania Representative

Shelley James - Western Australian Herbarium, Perth, Australia

ORCID logo0000-0003-1105-1850


Dr. Shelley James is the Collections Manager of the Western Australian Herbarium, based in Kensington, Western Australia. She has been acting as the Regional Representative for Oceania for the past six months, and is part of the TDWG 2021 Program Committee. Shelley has been assisting with the planning for the TDWG 2024 meeting in her position as Member at Large on the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) Council, and looks forward to continuing to help with planning. Shelley has been an active participant and member of TDWG for more than 10 years. Her recent work is focused on the expansion and improvement of herbarium collections and biodiversity data and ways to best analyze, contribute to, understand, and better our conservation efforts. She collaborates nationally and internationally with collections, research, cyberinfrastructure, and education communities. With her experience working in Australasia, Melanesia and the Pacific, she is well placed to communicate the biodiversity data standards activities being undertaken across the globe as the TDWG Oceania Regional Representative.