Impressions from the RDA Agricultural Data Interest Group (IGAD) Pre-Meeting: Interview with Ruthie Musker

What is your background?

I received my bachelor degree from the University of California Davis, Los Angeles in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Afterwards I did my Masters at the University College London in environmental conservation. I have been working in the area of agricultural sustainability for two years at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at University of California, Davis and, as of the beginning of this year, I am jointly appointed between UC Davis and the Sustainable Agroecosystems Group at ETH Zurich  working in sustainable and resilient food systems.

How did you know about the IGAD pre-meeting?

I learned about this meeting during the Agrisemantics Workshop at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome. I was incredibly inspired by the work that IGAD is doing and became more interested in the topic of data management for sustainable agriculture. I wanted to attend the IGAD meeting in Paris as well to learn more about current projects and how I can better understand data management for my research.

What did you expect from the IGAD meeting?

I wanted to learn about different problems, solutions and methodologies in the data management area in general. My current research is starting to involve more attention to ontologies and so I was looking forward to the opportunity to listen to presentations about ontology development methods and what has been done already in this field. I was also interested to learn in which specific implementations of ontologies other groups are currently working on.

The project I am working on is planning to host data sets. In this project, we want to help stakeholders in the food industry (manufacturers, policy makers, etc.) to make sustainable decisions based on these data sets. I was hoping to learn more about existing data, measurements and indicators.

What did you learn/take from this meeting?

I found many exciting collaboration opportunities with people I have met here. I have learned how our project can progress and where it can be of most use. Furthermore, I learned much more of the language and terminologies used in the information management area that I was not aware about before, which can help me to perform research in this area much more effectively.

How will the meeting influence your future work?

I now have a much clearer understanding of what can or cannot be done with current data and ideas about collection of future data. In addition, after meeting all the people here with such variable experiences and backgrounds, I know the right people to ask questions to and also what the right questions are.