Science Committee

Pete Hollingsworth

Pete Hollingsworth (Chair)

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

Torbjørn Ekrem

Torbjørn Ekrem

Norwegian University of
Science and Technology

Daniel Janzen

Daniel Janzen

University of Pennsylvania

Mara Lawniczak

Mara Lawniczak

Wellcome Sanger Institute


 
Raymond Ng

Raymond Ng

University of British Columbia

 
Deval Pandya

Deval Pandya

Vector Institute

 
Michelle van der Bank

Michelle van der Bank

University of Johannesburg

 

The Science Committee, whose members represent leading international researchers, provides advice on technologies, methodologies, and partnerships.

Peter Hollingsworth
 

Peter Hollingsworth (Chair)

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

Professor Pete Hollingsworth is Director of Science and Deputy Keeper at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. He is also an Honorary Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a Visiting Professor of the University of Edinburgh, and a Visiting Professor of the University of Johannesburg. His research focuses on understanding and conserving plant biodiversity. He has had a long involvement with the International Barcode of Life Project with a particular focus on the development and application of plant barcode protocols. He has a strong interest in linking scientific research to practical conservation outcomes, and has recently been involved in projects ranging from best-practice guidance for conservation translocations, understanding pest and pathogen threats to plant biodiversity, monitoring illegal trade in protected species, and undertaking large-scale spatial analyses to enhance conservation planning.


Torbjørn Ekrem
 

Torbjørn Ekrem

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Torbjørn Ekrem is professor of biosystematics and the Curator of Diptera, Hymenoptera, Arachnida and a few minor insect orders at the NTNU University Museum. His research interest includes evolution, systematics and biogeography, in particular of non-biting midges of the family Chironomidae (Diptera). His research focuses on taxonomy, biology, phylogeny, zoogeography and molecular systematics of genera and species of the tribe Tanytarsini, but he is also involved in work with other groups of animals and plants. The last few years he has been heavily involved in various projects testing and using DNA barcoding in biosystematics and freshwater biomonitoring. He is actively engaged in the EU COST-Action DNAqua-Net, and chair the Norwegian Barcode of Life network and project (NorBOL) with the goal of developing this initiative into a national infrastructure on DNA Barcoding.


Daniel Janzen
 

Daniel Janzen

University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Daniel Janzen, DiMaura Professor of Conservation Biology, University of Pennsylvania, is a tropical ecologist and biodiversity conservationist with 66 years of field experience and 545 scientific papers and books focused on the interactions of tropical animals and plants, and for the past 33 years also on their permanent in-situ conservation. He is a world level authority on the taxonomy and biology of tropical caterpillars, a member of the US and the Costa Rican National Academy of Sciences, and recipient of the Crafoord Prize (1984), the Kyoto Prize (1997), BBVA Prize (2012) and Blue Planet Prize (2014, with Costa Rica’s INBio). Janzen and biologist Dr. Winnie Hallwachs are co-architects and co-constructors, along with hundreds of others, of Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) and of Costa Rica’s INBio (Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad). These efforts, along with the ACG, are morphing into BioAlfa, an effort to render the entire country of Costa Rica bioliterate by coming to know all its biodiversity, largely through DNA barcoding and national participation. Janzen also serves as President of the Guanacaste Dry Forest Conservation Fund (GDFCF), the US-based NGO for ACG.


Mara Lawniczak
 

Mara Lawniczak

Wellcome Sanger Institute

Mara Lawniczak is an evolutionary geneticist with a long-standing interest in speciation and biodiversity. She is a faculty member at Sanger, and her research group is currently split between the Tree of Life Programme and the Parasites and Microbes Programme. She received her PhD in Population Biology from the University of California at Davis. In 2004, she moved to London for a postdoc and has remained in the UK since then. Her research has always used genomic technologies to address topics ranging from sexual conflict in Drosophila flies, to speciation genetics in Anopheles mosquitoes, to transmission biology in Plasmodium parasites. At Sanger, she co-leads the Vector Observatory to sequence the genomes of 50,000 wild mosquitoes. This is one of the largest population genomics projects on eukaryotes and it is focused on how natural populations vary over space and time in the context of major vector control efforts to eliminate malaria transmission. Since the start of her PhD, every project she has worked on has been completely reliant on having a high-quality reference genome, and she is excited by the research opportunities that will be empowered by global efforts to dramatically increase the number and the quality of available reference genomes across the diversity of life. As such, more recently, she has been working together with other UK scientists to run the Darwin Tree of Life Project, which aims to generate reference genomes for the tens of thousands of described eukaryotic species found in the UK. Work like the Anopheles gambaie 1000 genomes project is an exemplar of what will be possible for thousands of organisms in the future because of efforts like the Darwin Tree of Life Project. She believes that global biodiversity science initiatives like BIOSCAN and the Earth BioGenome Project will transform our understanding of our natural world, and she is thrilled to be a part of them.


Raymond Ng
 

Raymond Ng

University of British Columbia

Raymond Ng is a professor of Computer Science and Director of the University of British Columbia’s Data Science Institute. He also hold a Canada Research Chair in Data Science and Analytics. His main research area for the past two decades is on data mining, with a specific focus on health informatics and text mining. He has published over 220 peer-reviewed publications on data clustering, outlier detection, OLAP processing, health informatics and text mining. He is the recipient of two best paper awards – from the 2001 ACM SIGKDD conference, the premier data mining conference in the world, and the 2005 ACM SIGMOD conference, one of the top database conferences worldwide. For the past decade, he has co-led several large-scale genomic projects funded by Genome Canada, Genome BC and industrial collaborators. Since the inception of the PROOF Centre of Excellence, which focuses on biomarker development for end-stage organ failures, he has held the position of the Chief Informatics Officer of the Centre. From 2009 to 2014, Dr. Ng was the associate director of the NSERC-funded strategic network on business intelligence.


Deval Pandya
 

Deval Pandya

Vector Institute

Dr. Deval Pandya is Director of AI Engineering at Vector Institute and one of the 100 Global Future Energy Leaders with the World Energy Council. He is passionate about building Responsible Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning systems for expediting energy transition and combating Climate Change and also serves as a Director on the technical steering committee of Moja Global, a not-for-profit collaborative project that brings together a community of experts to develop open-source software under Linux Foundation used for country level greenhouse gas accounting from AFOLU sector. Prior to joining Vector, Deval was leading the Data Science team at Shell focusing on application in New Energies and Asset management. During his career, he has led development of scalable machine learning applications in the domains of nature-based solutions, predictive maintenance, e-mobility, microgrid optimizations and hydrogen value chain. Deval is on the task force for Digitalization in Energy at United Nations Economic Commission of Europe (UNECE) and mentor at Creative Destruction Labs. He enjoys traveling and cooking in his free time.


Michelle van der Bank
 

Michelle van der Bank

University of Johannesburg

Michelle van der Bank received her PhD in Botany from the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg, South Africa) in 1996. She is a Professor in Botany at the University of Johannesburg and Director of the African Centre for DNA Barcoding (ACDB). ACDB’s mission is to fill the knowledge gap and strengthen research frameworks for international, regional and inter-institutional co-operation in Africa in the field of DNA technology for biodiversity science. Her research group uses molecular phylogenetics, comparative analyses and intensive fieldwork to address questions relevant to biodiversity conservation in Africa.