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ODU Oceanographer, Sophie Clayton, Helps Organize Global Event

By Tiffany Whitfield

Old Dominion University Assistant Professor Sophie Clayton in the Department of Ocean & Earth Sciences helped organize the 2022 OceanHackWeek (OHW). OHW is an international event aimed at providing ocean scientists with an opportunity to improve their data science skills. This cross continental OHW was held across three different countries and lasted five days, beginning August 14 to 19, 2022. The participants were ocean and data scientists, primarily graduate students, postdoctoral students and early career researchers who engaged in interactive tutorials, collaborative data exploration, peer learning and software development.

Clayton has served on the steering committee for OHW for both the 2020 and 2022 events, and this year helped to organize the Global Virtual Event and was one of the project coordinators. "OceanHackWeek provides an invaluable opportunity for ocean scientists to receive training and mentorship in data science skills that are generally not a part of an oceanographer's academic training."

ODU OES graduate student, Francesco Lane, also took part in this international event. Lane said, "OceanHackWeek is not only a traditional coding workshop, but also the opportunity to witness and work with distinguished oceanographic data scientist from across the global tackling problems and good programming practices in real time."

This year's OHW expanded on a successful hybrid event in 2021; the 2022 event was designed as a Global Virtual Event (GVE) with six regional satellites to offer a more diverse set of learning environments, better address the spread of virtual participant time zones, and to expand opportunities to participate in OHW to a larger number of participants.

The event attracted 104 participants from countries as far afield as Nigeria, Australia and Peru who gathered in coordinated satellite events with hubs located around the globe, including the United States Northeast region, the United States Northwest region, the United States Southwest region, the Australian region, the Brazil region, a Spanish language virtual group, and the GVE spanning time zones from the U.S. West Coast to Israel.

Professor Fred Dobbs, chair of the Department of Ocean & Earth Sciences, found the OHW fascinating in its scope, but observed that "no matter how sophisticated the technology linking participants across the world, differences in time zones guaranteed that some were very sleepy by the end."

Participants were joined by 20 organizers. Tutorials and projects spanned oceanographic sub-disciplines (searching for passive acoustic data to unsupervised clustering of flow cytometry data), data sources (remote sensing, ocean and climate models, the Ocean Observatories Initiative, US IOOS, OBIS, etc.) and open-source programming languages (Python and R), supported by a common computational infrastructure on the cloud and coordination that enabled extensive project collaborations across the GVE and satellite events. Presentations, tutorials and project presentations are openly accessible from the event website https://oceanhackweek.github.io/ohw22/index.html as well as computational notebooks (Jupyter or R Markdown), PDF presentations and video recordings on YouTube.

This event was co-led by the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and the University of Washington, together with co-organizers from multiple institutions in the US and Australia. Funding support was provided by NASA, United Sates Integrated Ocean Observing System (U.S. IOOS), National Science Foundation (NSF), and the University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory.

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