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Faculty Focus: Wade Bishop Named Belmont Forum Human Dimensions Champion

Wade BishopSchool of Information Sciences Associate Professor Wade Bishop has been named the 2018-19 Human Dimensions Champion for Belmont Forum e-Infrastructures & Data Management.

The Belmont Forum, according to its website, is an agency, “Established in 2009 as an international partnership of 25 national science-funding agencies and science councils across the world that supports global environmental change research. It aims to accelerate delivery and increase impact of the environmental change research and data it produces to remove critical barriers to sustainability by aligning and mobilizing international resources.”

In his role as champion, Bishop is tasked with creating a toolkit to ensure Belmont Forum researchers are trained in data management skills. The resources he is designing will focus on how to openly share data globally, and the position culminates in February when he’ll lead an in-person training session.

“If everyone gets on the same page, the same software, the same processes–that’s the dream,” Bishop said.

Many of these researchers already know how to manage data, but don’t know how to make it shareable, he said. With open source data sharing becoming an expectation and even a compliance issue for many funding entities, it’s imperative that researchers learn how to manage their data in a way that can be shared from country to country.

While the United States has been implementing data management plans–basically how data will be shared–as standard policy, the United Kingdom, European Union and Australia are working on their policies to make data management plans mandatory.

“This makes the data accessible without barriers–without having to call someone or email someone,” Bishop explained. “We need to be able to share data about the earth to make better informed decisions and hopefully reduce the effects of global change.”

In the future, Bishop said all federally funded projects will need a data manager, and that every institution will need a data librarian–which is one of many reasons he teaches at UTK SIS. The world is going to need more well-trained information scientists who can fill these vital positions and facilitate global data sharing.

As part of this position, Bishop was awarded a $45,000 contract funded by the University of Arizona and University of Arizona Geological Survey. He was interviewed and subsequently selected as the Human Dimensions Champion due to his standing as a global expert in the field of data sharing and management.