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Finding Ada in Scientific Data: Ada Lovelace Day 2020

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, as run by the lovely people at Finding Ada and as advocated by the STEM Ambassador Programme of which I am a part. I thought about choosing a famous woman from history, or a contemporary of ours to inspire us. But what really caught my imagination was the wonderful conglomerate of women in science that I have met, worked and become friends with since the start of my career.

But how to properly acknowledge them? As an ontologist, my mind immediately leapt to the creation of an ontology; I could describe the women, our various associations, and how we interrelated in specific and intricate detail. I was all ready to do it when I realized that just uploading an OWL file to my blog wasn’t very visually stimulating. Also, I realized that my eagerness to create an ontology would result in my spending far more time on getting it exactly right than I actually have.1 So, although only yesterday I was scoffing at spreadsheets, I ended up using exactly that kind of “unsuitable” method to quickly do what I needed. The graph below can be copied and modified to allow you to correct any errors and add any of us that I (gasp) am bound to have forgotten.

Update 17.10.20: Groups are from: Me (blue), Dagmar (yellow), Melanie S. (green), Melanie C. (purple), Jane (turquoise), and Katherine (orange), and Rachael (dark purple). Details of each person, including ORCIDs, in the graph and further down the page. Previous iterations of the graph at the end of the post.

Latest version with a few more connections added by Dagmar: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/4042689/

As this is about Ada Lovelace Day, this is a network of women. And, because of the way I have chosen to celebrate women in STEM, it includes all of those women with whom I have worked with directly2. (It is necessarily self centered, though I was certainly not aiming to center myself!) At every stage of my career, I was one of the lucky ones to have female and male bosses who actively sought out excellence based on merit. I want to celebrate the collective research power of women in the field of data science that I have chosen. I hope it’s the interconnectedness of this graph, rather than the small singular point it began from, that gives you an idea of how much of an impact women have had in our research area.3

I’ve included the ORCIDs, where I know them, to allow you all to peruse the outputs of their research should you so desire. For a few I don’t know their ORCIDs, but you’ll just have to take my word for how fantastic they are, with a little detail on just a few of them.

There’s Katherine C., who was my roommate back at Rice University during our undergraduate days. She majored in Computer Science while I was studying Biology; I didn’t understand that funny programming stuff at all back then. Little did I know that I was headed slowly but surely directly down that path! And Katherine’s interest and brilliance were definitely factors when I changed direction from Biology to Bioinformatics and ultimately to data curation, ontologies, and data science that I’m involved with today.There’s Melanie, who I always seek out at conferences as I look forward to her sharp mind and great company. There’s Maria-Jesus and Claire, who took a chance and gave me my very first job in this industry in my early 20s. Susanna is the most insightful, gregarious and focused woman I have ever met in my career, and constantly amazes me with her understanding of the research community and how to draw the best out of all of us. Dawn was just marvellous in many ways, and a person I felt a secret association with as we both worked in the UK and came from the US. Trish is smart, engaging and I see way too little of her.

At every stage of my career, and in every conference I went to or workshop I, uh, worked at, I found brilliant women who helped each other along. There are many ways to slice a population of researchers – only one of which is by gender – but I am proud of the women with whom I have worked over the years, and this is just one small way to say thank you. Where do I find Ada? In every single woman I’ve worked with.

Thanks, Ladies.

The STEM Ambassador Hub at DEBP challenged Ambassadors to join in today, and to write about who inspired us, though lots of other groups (such as WISE) are taking part. I’d like to think that some aspiring scientists might come across this, and realize that perhaps they wouldn’t be as alone as they might think, if they chose to take a career in STEM. There are gender issues in STEM that should not be forgotten about, but today is about raising up and celebrating.

  1. I have been researching visualization tools for OWL, RDF and similar formats and have yet to find something I am completely happy with. OLS does virtually everything that I need, but you need to install a local version of it if you want to visualize your own ontologies (I think they would be justified in not accepting conglomeration of female scientists as a community-driven ontology suitable for inclusion on their site!). WebVOWL is beautiful and allows upload of your own OWL files, but I find it difficult to do all the tweaks I would like. All I wanted to do was to provide a website with a list of ORCIDs and have it pop out a suitable bit of RDF or similar as to how all of these researchers were connected (via their publications, organizations, etc). Then I could tweak the resulting RDF and run it through WebVOWL. I even tweeted about it (without success)… But, as I couldn’t find a tool to do that, and I didn’t have the time to write it, I had to find a quicker alternative. To allow the quick conversion of a list of nodes and edges to a nice visualization, I found Flourish, which is what I used to make the graph in this post.
  2. As this day is focusing on women in STEM I have not added nodes for the many men I have worked with, but you know who you are, and you’re great. 🙂
  3. I’ve included ORCIDs where I can find them, and I all of the connections are from my memory (which as I have said is faulty), backed up by publicly-available information. In other words, I haven’t added any information that isn’t already out there on the interwebs. However, if you prefer not to be included in the graph, then please do let me know privately and I’ll remove you.

Previous Revisions:
Groups were added by: Me (blue), Dagmar (yellow), Melanie S. (green), Melanie C. (purple), Jane (turquoise), and Katherine (orange).

16.10.20

Update after Rachael Huntley (0000-0001-6718-3559) added her connections, : see https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/4038958/

Latest update by Katherine James (https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/4036426/). Please feel free to duplicate+edit, then let me know and I’ll include it here!

Update 16.10.20: Jane’s version plus extra edits by Melanie Courtot and me.

A version with additional small updates by Melanie Courtot and by me! Find it at https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/4034651/ to duplicate+edit.

Update 16.10.20: The stupendous Jane Lomax (ORCID: 0000-0001-8865-4321) has also extended the graph! Here it is – feel free to move things about, as it’s getting rather crowded now – perfect!

Jane Lomax’s graph from https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/4027040/ – you know you want to add to it! 🙂

Update 15.10.20: The fantastic Melanie Courtot (ORCID: 0000-0002-9551-6370) has also extended the graph! I’ve added hers here, with permission. Thanks!

Melanie Courtot’s graph from https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/4025201/ – thank you all!

Update 15.10.20: The amazing Melanie Stefan (ORCID: 0000-0002-6086-7357) has also extended the graph! I’ve added hers here, with permission. Thanks!

Melanie Stefan’s graph from https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/4022369/

Update 14.10.20: The fabulous Dagmar Waltemath (ORCID: 0000-0002-5886-5563) has extended the graph! I’ve added hers here, with permission. Thanks!

Dagmar Waltemath’s graph from https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/4005928/ . Love how much she has added! (And apologies – I really should have added her in the first place!)
The highly non-scientific network of women in STEM that I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. Completely inadequate as I’m sure I’m missing people (feel free to edit my graph and republish via https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/3969817/), but my point isn’t so much about the individuals as it is about how, every step of the way, there are women who help each other and lift each other up in science.

By Allyson Lister

Find me at https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7702-4495 and https://www.eng.ox.ac.uk/people/allyson-lister/

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