Evolutionary Biology & Ontologies Workshop report

July 11, 2008

Our first educational and outreach event “Evolutionary Biology & Ontologies Workshop” was held at the Evolution meetings in Minneapolis, Minnesota (June 20, 2008), and we felt it was a big success.  We had lots of enthusiasm and over 50 attendees for this all day workshop, which was organized by the Phenoscape PIs (Paula Mabee, Todd Vision, Monte Westerfield), NESCent and Barry Smith from the National Center for Biomedical Ontologies (NCBO). 

We need to especially thank all our speakers for their excellent presentations, They not only gave the audience a varied introduction to ontologies, but also a set of examples of the integrative questions that can be answered using them.   The slideshows for all of these talks are on our wiki but I thought I would provide a brief overview of each one right below as a summary of the workshop. The use of ontologies is just emerging in evolutionary biology, and it is an exciting time to be involved in this field.  As we move forward to use ontologies in evolutionary biology, we discover new requirements and challenges — for example, the challenge of how we create ontologies that are interoperable — so that we can ask big questions that span not only taxonomic groups (such as bees and fishes and mouse and fly) but different knowledge domains (such as phenotype, evolution, and genetics, genomics, medicine). Read the rest of this entry »