Richard Ostler

Richard Ostler
Fellows 2022-2023, Fellowship Programme
Agri-informatician
Rothamsted Research
 

Interests

Over the last five years, much of my work has revolved around long-term agricultural experiments, and I’ve become a passionate advocate for their unique data! These experiments continue to generate routine measurements and observations, and the long-term data results are freely available. The experiments also used research infrastructures, meaning other researchers can generate new types of data that can be very diverse, including soil metagenomics, X-Ray tomography of soil pore structures, or botanical and invertebrate surveys. In every case, the experiment links these data together, so understanding the experiment context and, for long-term experiments, its historical narrative is essential for using and linking its data. My current interests, therefore, are in how we can provide consistent descriptions of any agricultural experiment to enable appropriate links between different types of FAIR data within an experiment and between FAIR data from various experiments.  

My work

I lead a new team of research data stewards and research software engineers at Rothamsted Research. As a team, we support our three BBSRC National Bioscience Research Infrastructures, the Rothamsted Long-term Experiments, North Wyke Farm Platform, and Insect Survey. These infrastructures provide valuable research data to the scientific community, and curating these data is a critical ongoing role for the team. More widely, we provide data management expertise and training to our researchers and support them in adopting FAIR principles for their data. Our researchers generate and use a diverse range of data ranging from high-throughput ‘omics data to environmental sensors, remote sensing, and agronomic and ecology survey data. A key challenge for us is providing best practice advice across this diversity of data, especially where good communities of practice don’t exist or are unfamiliar, and how to link diverse but related data. I am an active member of the wider international long-term experiment community and helped develop the GLTEN metadata schema for providing consistent long-term experiment descriptions. I am co-chair of the UK Environmental Observation Framework Data Advisory Group and Advisory Board member for F1000Research Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Gateway.