VertNet Team

VertNet is a collaborative community effort to bring together the expertise of biodiversity scientists and informatics experts. The Steering Committee includes individuals from 11 leading institutions in biodiversity informatics, research, and collections from around the U.S. The project team includes individuals from the Universities of California Berkeley, Colorado, Kansas, and Tulane.

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    Carla Cicero Lead PI, University of California, Berkeley

    Carla Cicero, Staff Curator of Birds at the MVZ, served as a PI on the ORNIS project. Her research on genetic, morphologic, and song variation in western North America birds takes her to many cool places. Carla also manages Arctos at the MVZ, is responsible for the MVZ audio collection, and co-manages the MVZ historical archives of field notes and photographs. Carla loves working with birds but also has other interests, including fishing, cooking, traveling, and gardening.

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    Hank Bart PI, Tulane University

    It is raining. The horizon at which clouds become wet stones on the street is indistinguishable. New Orleans is tired. A tall, dark stranger enters the room and sits down beside you. Turquoise and silver flash in your peripheral vision as he orders a bourbon, neat. “Fish,” he says. You turn to face a distinguished looking academic. “The Tulane Museum of Natural History just can’t get enough of ‘em.”

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    David Bloom VertNet Coordinator, University of California, Berkeley

    David has a penchant for odd jobs. In fact, he seems to revel in the absurdity of employment. You’re just as likely to catch him explaining electricity to Tibetan monks as hand carrying thousands of pinned insects across a Boulder hillside. Dave now spends an inordinate amount of time herding cats and other vertebrates and sighing audibly when confronted with social media.

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    Rob Guralnick PI, University of Colorado, Boulder

    Rob cedes the remainder of his bio to Dave Bloom to write for him. Ahem. Much like the free-floating algae that Rob considers to be his family in his watery home away from home, Rob is a roaming crusader for biodiversity data sharing and mobilization. Nomadic as his habits may be, Rob still finds time to park his posterior on a Gary Fisher, worship his inestimable partner in crime, and drive his advisees to the brink of insanity with last minute meeting rescheduling.

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    Michelle Koo Senior Personnel, University of California, Berkeley

    Michelle is the Biodiversity Informatics and GIS staff curator at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, where her current research focuses on evolution, biogeography, and informatics. She has participated in HerpNET, and now helps keep VertNet on the map, so to speak. She is also the associate director of AmphibiaWeb, an online resource bringing together the latest research on amphibian natural history, biology, decline and conservation.

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    Javier Otegui Research Scholar, University of Colorado, Boulder

    Biologist by degree, informatician by hobby, Javier - also known as JOT in some circles you should definitely try to be into - finally found the way of merging both passions into a single PhD in Spain. He comes from a coastal city, but instead of swimming in the sea, he loves diving in giga-sized databases (without scuba tank!), and feels comfortable with data flowing through his screen. One of his most curious abilities is stirring records to make them tell you something unexpected.

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    Nelson Rios Co-PI, Tulane University

    The honest truth is this: you have not lived until you’ve been to an official Rios family barbecue. New Orleans culinary tradition meets Cuban rhythm meets Uruguayan spirit; it’ll make your body and your taste buds dance like Mardi Gras in full swing. Don’t worry if you’re not much of a dancer, fish stories abound for those inclined to talk the night away.

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    Laura Russell VertNet Programmer, University of Kansas

    Laura is a geek girl from Kansas who abandoned dreams of becoming a French foreign correspondent (or a librarian) for the lure of technology. She spent many years doing all-things computer-related at a golf association until she came to her senses and went back to her alma mater, the University of Kansas, to work for VertNet where she now helps biodiversity institutions publish their occurrence data online. She likes working with data and thinks it's fun to clean it up. She also enjoys traveling and playing board games with friends.

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    Carol Spencer Co-PI, University of California, Berkeley

    Carol is the Staff Curator of Herpetology and researcher at the MVZ and served previously as the Project Coordinator for HerpNET. Her primary research interests include biogeography, geographic variation, biodiversity informatics, and life history evolution. On her own time, you’ll find Carol playing with her dog, seeking solutions to flower-eating deer, drinking tequila, or catching rattlesnakes in Mexico.

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    Dave Vieglais PI, University of Kansas

    Dave lives in a two-dimensional 6”x6” box inside his computer. His box has an infinite number of windows that allow him to appear on your computer screen via a multitude of communications APIs so that he can manage his copious and internationally significant data projects. It is a treat to see Dave in his 3D holographic form, but don’t ask him what technology he uses to project himself around the globe. Some things are better left unknown.

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    John Wieczorek Information Architect, University of California, Berkeley

    John has no degree of any consequence, putters at his desk, mutters things about standards and uncertainties, and only took the job to support his beach volleyball habit. He recently bought a spiffy new bike so he can get away quickly. Word on the street is that he actually likes to help people.

VertNet Steering Committee members represent the the four classic networks, citizen science projects, and other communities working with biodiversity data globally. Each member is appointed for two years with the possibility of being reappointed.

  • Hank Bart - VertNet PI Professor,
    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    Director and Curator of Fishes
    Tulane University Biodiversity Research Institute

  • John Bates Chairman and Associate Curator – Birds
    Department of Zoology
    Field Museum of Natural History

  • David Blackburn Assistant Curator, Herpetology
    California Academy of Sciences

  • Carla Cicero - VertNet Lead PI Staff Curator, Birds
    Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
    University of California, Berkeley

  • Joe Cook Professor and Curator of Mammals
    Museum of Southwestern Biology

  • Linda Ford Director of Collections Operations
    Museum of Compartive Zoology
    Harvard University

  • Rob Guralnick - chair and VertNet PI Associate Professor,
    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    Curator of Invertebrate Zoology
    University of Colorado

  • Walter Jetz Associate Professor,
    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    Yale University

  • Steve Kelling Director of Information Science
    Cornell Lab of Ornithology
    Cornell University

  • Town Peterson Distinguished Professor,
    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    Curator, Ornithology
    University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute

  • Nancy Simmons Chair, Division of Vertebrate Zoology
    Curator-in-charge, Department of Mammalogy
    American Museum of Natural History

  • Carol Spencer - VertNet Co-PI Staff Curator, Herpetology
    Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
    University of California, Berkeley

  • John Wieczorek Information Architect
    Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
    University of California, Berkeley