website comes home


The CRESCYNT Coral Reef Science & Cyberinfrastructure Network was funded as a Research Coordination Network under an NSF EarthCube grant, a large-scale project bringing research scientists, software developers, and data specialists together in one place to build tools for scientists to ease the challenges of integrating data and executing analytical workflows to accelerate discovery in geosciences.

The EarthCube project has a new office, a few more years of funding, and in the process of building a new website is offloading web hosting of the funded projects themselves, so the undertakings and outcomes of the CRESCYNT project will no longer be listed at For archiving, here’s a pdf copy of that web front content. website comes home

In Memory of Ruth D. Gates


Dear Friends,

It has been very hard to say goodbye to the incomparable Ruth D. Gates.

Her ashes were taken aboard the Hōkūleʻa and released into Kāneʻohe Bay, Hawaiʻi in a ceremony on November 18, 2018.

If you miss her voice, as we do, the Gates Coral Lab site has links to some videos featuring Ruth and her publications. We love this one, where Ruth did a 30-min social media interview answering people’s questions. For introductory teaching and outreach we love this one, where Ruth explains corals and coral reefs in an extraordinarily accessible way.

If you wish to read them, here are links to some in memoriam articles and obituaries from multiple perspectives: The Atlantic, the University of Hawaii, The New York Times, the ARCS Foundation, and the Honolulu Civil Beat.

When asked by an audience member at a screening of Chasing Coral, “What should I do to help corals and reduce human impact on reefs?” her response was essentially: 1 – Pick Something, and 2 – Start. She believed in the power of every human being to step up and make a difference in some way, knew the diversity of talents and skills and people essential to moving forward, and through the radiance of her brilliance and passion, inspired us all to do more.

The Gates Coral Lab projects that were already in motion will continue with the students, postdocs and staff  whose growth she fostered. We know we share with you this common yoke and dedication to the work of inquiry and protection for coral reefs and the planet.  Those of us left behind may not have Ruth’s spectacular eloquence, insight, brilliance and spark, but we all can and must do what we are capable of doing to advocate for coral reefs, the planet, and its people.

Ruth had a vision of coral reef science as deeply collaborative, deeply integrative and multidisciplinary, and essentially multiscale. She also loved seeing scientists, managers, data and technical people working together and alongside educators, artists, and citizens for the good of coral reefs and the planet. We are all part of her collective legacy.

We’ll close with Ruth’s own words, taken from an interview posted at Paul G. Allen Philanthropies. In addition to the scientific acuity and perceptiveness of her research, Ruth’s practical and forward-looking philosophy is part of how she inspired so many.

What would you recommend we do in our daily lives to stem the loss or support the survival of corals? 

We can all play a part in a solution to the problem on reefs and the solution for the planet. It really depends on what you want to do. We’re all discussing green energy, the move towards electric cars, the embracing of solar technology that is a much cleaner source to offset the burning of fossil fuels. If you’re somebody who’s politically active you could lobby your local politician to support all action that would advance an agenda that would really help protect the coral reef. Maybe you’re somebody who wants to go out and clean up a beach because everything that we take off that beach will no longer wash onto the reef and potentially damage it. Maybe you’re a boater who drops an anchor, and instead of dropping an anchor you could talk to your local managers and ask for them to put a permanent mooring in so that when you tie up your boat you don’t drag your anchor across a reef. I think what I always say to people is choose a solution that is best for you. And start doing it.

What makes you most optimistic about the work you are doing?

I’m a believer that people can pretty much do anything. Unfortunately, we seem to prefer to fix problems than to stop the problem in the first place. But we have a problem. It’s a challenge and there are many young scientists who are committed to solving the challenge of “can we save the reefs?” I’m really invigorated by the energy from the young scientists I work with. I’m invigorated by the amount of creativity that a problem of this magnitude forces in the scientific communities. I feel we can solve any problem. But to do that we have to collaborate with people that we potentially don’t usually work with. It forces us really to change the way we as scientists do business, I think. To me that’s a very exciting framework.

Ruth D. Gates, March 28, 1962 – October 25, 2018

In Memory of Ruth D. Gates

Using RStudio with GitHub for Securing Your Work, Versioning, and Collaboration


RStudio and GitHub go together like two wheels of a bicycle. Together, they form a low-overhead yet powerful open source workbench – a lean machine that can help take your data to far places.

In a recent informal evaluation of coral reef related research articles that included simultaneous publication of code and data, by far the most popular language used was R, and RStudio is the most popular interface for working with R.

In a CRESCYNT Data Science for Coral Reefs: Data Integration and Team Science workshop held earlier this year at NCEAS, the most powerful skill introduced was using RStudio with GitHub: writing data and code to GitHub from RStudio.

Once the link is set up, the work can continue in RStudio in the way people may be familiar with, and then one can make commits to GitHub periodically to save the work and potentially pave the way for collaboration.

  1. Download and install R
  2. Download and install R Studio
  3. Create a GitHub account
  4. Connect a repository in the GitHub account to RStudio.  This takes multiple steps; here are some good options to work through the process.

You can use sections of NCEAS’s long tutorial on Introduction to Open Data Science, initially developed by their Ocean Health Index group. Use the sections on overview of R and RStudio, Markdown, intro to GitHub, and skip down to collaboration in GitHub.

There are a number of other tutorials available to show how to make and use these softwares together; a beautifully clean and clear step-by-step tutorial is from Resources at GitHub; another excellent one is from Support at RStudio.

Also available to you: Hadley Wickham on Git and GitHub, a Study Group’s Version Control with RStudio and GitHub Simply Explained, R Class’s An Introduction to Git and How to Use it with RStudio, and U Chicago’s Using Git within RStudio, and Happy Git’s Connect RStudio to Git and GitHub. You may prefer the style of one of these over others.

If later you want to go further, come back for these tutorials hosted at R-Bloggers: R Blogdown Setup in GitHub, and Migrating from GitHub to GitLab with RStudio. And good news – you can now archive a snapshot of a GitHub repository to preserve and even publish a particular version of your RStudio work – plus get a doi to share – at Zenodo.

Summary:  Many research scientists use RStudio as their primary analytical and visualization tool. RStudio now has the ability to connect to a GitHub repository and make commits to it from RStudio. This permits critical core functions for a simplified workbench: documenting workflows (R Markdown), preserving code and provenance, producing repeatable results, creating flexible pipelines, sharing data and code, and allowing collaboration among members of a team. Versioning and teamwork is simplified by making commits frequently and always doing fresh pulldowns prior to commit (rather than focusing on branch development). The process is valuable for individual researchers, documenting project work, and collaborating in teams.

Related blogposts: Learning to Love R More and R Resources for Graphing and Visualization.

>>>Go to the blog Masterpost or the CRESCYNT website or NSF EarthCube.<<<

Using RStudio with GitHub for Securing Your Work, Versioning, and Collaboration

Metadata Dream Team responds to request for recommendations for coral reef data

people in a room at a table working together
CRESCYNT-DDStudio participants at UCSD Scripps, 2018-08-15. Clockwise from top right (back): Ilya Zaslavsky, Zachary Mason, Samantha Clements, Karen Stocks, Ted Habermann, David Valentine, Hannah Ake, Eric Lingerfelt, Gary Hudman, Sarah O’Connor, Ouida Meier. Not pictured: Gastil Gastil-Buhl, Stephen Richard, Tom Whitenack.

When two major workshops concluded by the EarthCube CRESCYNT Coral Reef Science and Cyberinfrastructure Network in March 2018, there were some interesting clear outcomes in addition to the practical training and data exploration goals accomplished. The workshops were both structured around Data Science for Coral Reefs. At the end of the first, focused on Data Rescue and data management, participants decided that the most important new topic they learned about was metadata and its uses. At the end of the second, focused on Data Integration and Team Science, people had realized how essential writing good metadata was for being able to make datasets at disparate scales work together well. The metadata lessons were important emergent outcomes, and participants asked that data and metadata experts get together, use the data challenges that arose, and recommend some metadata practices and standards that would work for the coral reef community and its very broad range of data types, repositories, and pre-repository research, storage, sharing and analytical metadata needs.

We were luckily able to do exactly that with one final workshop. Through a jointly staged CRESCYNT-DDStudio workshop, we pulled together a group of metadata experts, coral reef data managers, representative scientists, and the EarthCube Data Discovery Studio’s scientists and software developers focused on metadata enhancement for finding and using data.

Special guests included Ted Habermann (Metadata 2020 project, co-author of “The influence of community recommendations on metadata completeness”; Stephen Richard (experience with and metadata standards authoring); coral reef data experts Gastil Gastil-Buhl (Moorea Coral Reef LTER), Hannah Ake (BCO-DMO), and Sarah O’Connor and Zachary Mason (NOAA NCEI’s user metadata writing interface and CoRIS), the three biggest formal repositories for coral reef research data in the US or sponsored by NSF; Eric Lingerfelt, the EarthCube Technical Officer; guests from Scripps; and DDH team members Ilya Zaslavsky, Karen Stocks, Gary Hudman, David Valentine, and Tom Whitenack with their broad and integrative metadata, software, and domain expertise. Ilya and Karen kindly hosted the group at UCSD’s San Diego Supercomputer Center and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Important outcomes from the workshop were mutualistic for the two projects. For CRESCYNT, they included cross-mapping an essential set of metadata (as defined by appropriate community repositories) to web standards and producing a draft ISO metadata profile for coral reef data at two levels of dataset access: (1) discovery and sharing (a simpler form with freeform text entry in many of the fields), and (2) understanding and usability at the workbench level (a more detailed form with options to supply more highly specified fields). We will finish writing these and offer them to the coral reef community for feedback and potential adoption.

For the Data Discovery Studio (formerly known as Data Discovery Hub), important outcomes included exploration of the use of the enhanced metadata at different repositories and in science use cases (including the coral reef use case), a deep dive into focusing the future trajectory of Data Discovery Studio, and some initial planning for an upcoming data science competition that will involve the coral reef data (details to be announced). Read more about DDStudio and its broader work, and be on the alert for a Data Discovery Science Competition in January 2019!

We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of our hosts, workshop travel support from NSF, the active work and engagement of our participants, and the organizations that allowed their employees time to attend and contribute to this collective effort.

>>>Go to the blog Masterpost or the CRESCYNT website or NSF EarthCube.<<<

Metadata Dream Team responds to request for recommendations for coral reef data

New Opportunities – Spring 2018

We’ve been busy lately, including following up on the Data Rescue and Data Integration workshops with more materials to share (you can already access most of them here!), and wanted to share some new opportunities.
EarthCube All Hands Meeting
The EarthCube All Hands Meeting will be held June 6-8, 2018 in Washington, DC (our abstracts here). We are very excited to be able to bring a coral-reef-science guest or two to this meeting through reimbursement of travel and registration costs. Two people who work with coral reef data from a repository perspective will also attend with us as part of the CRESCYNT community. Please email us if you’re interested! (Registration is $250 before May 11)
CoralNET Software Update
CoralNET software for automated analysis of coral reef benthic imagery is getting a revision, and its developers would like your input. What feature improvements and new developments would you like to see? Add your feedback to this thread. More background here. (If you haven’t tried it yet, this is the time to do it – fresh users are a great source of important feedback.)
Nat’l Academies Workshop on Interventions to Increase Resilience of Coral Reefs


Attendance is free and open to the public, online or in person.

View the agenda and register.


>>>Go to the blog Masterpost or the CRESCYNT website or NSF EarthCube.<<<

New Opportunities – Spring 2018