Sunday, August 3, 2014

To Create an Online Forum for the Virus Ecology Research Community

 The Marine Microbiology Initiative is striving to build a
community of virus ecology resources online.
Like bacteria and fungus ecology, virus ecology is an important part of the functioning world around us, as well as an important aspect of our health and wellbeing (viruses are part of the human microbiome after all).  While there is a lot of great virus ecology research going on, there remains a lack of communication and standardization throughout the field.  For example, there are a lot of great analytical tools available online, but it is often unclear which is the best suited for certain analyses, especially for those entering the field.  This lack of communication and research is hindering the research potential of the field as it moves forward.  Luckily for us, the awesome people at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Marine Microbiology Initiative are working on implementing online tools for enhancing communication and methodological standardization across the field.  In this post, I just want to spread the word about their project and their call for proposals.

I first heard about this project at the recent 2014 American Society for Microbiology Conference, and I have been keeping up with it ever since.  This project's goal is to generate an online community, based around a forum, similar to the SeqAnswers community for those interested in general sequencing, or the StackOverflow community for programmers.  This is a really good idea because it will both provide a valuable, centralized resource for those entering the field, as well as providing a hub for the community to stay connected and up-to-date on what is going on.  I also think this could be a great resource for allowing researchers to more easily collaborate on robust and standardized bioinformatics toolkits for virus community analysis.

The official announcement and call for proposals from the team's Facebook page is as follows:

Request for Proposals (by Invitation): Creating an On-Line Forum for the Virus Ecology Community

Marine Microbiology Initiative, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

The Marine Microbiology Initiative (MMI) at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF) is interested in addressing the challenge of equipping the virus ecology community with an on-line forum to enable discussions about laboratory, field, and bioinformatic methods and to increase connectivity and collaboration among virus ecology researchers. MMI seeks proposals that range in complexity between forums built from the ground up to those that extend and capitalize on existing forum-building technologies, such as, Tapatalk, Ning, Stack Overflow, Reddit, Research Gate, and Wikipedia/media.

If you or someone / an organization you know is interested in submitting a proposal, please drop me a line at for further information.

Thank you! 


From here I'll just wrap up this post by saying I think this is an awesome idea.  I have gotten a lot out of my participation in SeqAnswers, StackOverflow, and other communities, and I think this virus ecology community could be a similar useful resource.  I am excited to see it come together more in the coming months and I hope I am lucky enough to be a part of it and offer some useful contributions.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal, please contact Jon (his email is in the statement above).  If you just want to learn more or keep up-to-date, check our their Facebook page (link above).

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