The 2007 Ebbe Nielsen Prize has been awarded to Paul Flemons of the Australian Museum, Sydney. The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) established the Prize in honor of Dr. Ebbe Schmidt Nielsen, who was an inspirational leader in the fields of biosystematics and biodiversity informatics. This is the only Prize in the world that is given in the area of biodiversity informatics.
The yearly award of €30,000 recognizes a researcher who is combining biosystematics and biodiversity informatics research in an exciting and novel way. Speaking about the Prize when he was notified, Flemons said "I am honoured by the award. GBIF is making a significant contribution to biodiversity informatics."
Paul Flemons applies computer-based ecological modeling to help identify places where lots of species occur together, or species that occur only in very restricted geographical areas. This helps biodiversity scientists be more efficient in their efforts to discover and conserve species.
The GBIF Science Committee noted when it announced the 2007 Prizewinner, “Paul Flemons has been a key figure in developing a robust and accessible biodiversity data infrastructure that supports visualization and analysis for use in conservation planning and natural resource decision-making."
Further, the Committee said, "As a software developer, Flemons is particularly attuned to user needs. His work includes innovations that similar developments lack, and he has a rare mix of skill sets." The Prize winner also works on making desktop software tools into web-based tools that can be shared across the Internet. Sharing analytical software in this way promotes collaboration and cooperation among scientists and between scientists and policy-making agencies.
Flemons understands the importance of the interplay between natural history collections data, visualization and analysis tools, and conservation decision-making. He has published in top-tier scientific journals, but at the same time he builds software applications that are intuitive and maximize the user experience for both scientists and non-scientists.
Flemons' Prize will go toward engaging a broader community in the establishment of standards for data and metadata that arise from biodiversity collection and monitoring, and in furthering his work in building tools for online biodiversity analysis. He said " I look forward to using the Prize to broaden GBIF's range of data contributors to include industry and natural resource management agencies, and in further developing its contribution to biodiversity conservation planning.”
The Prize will be awarded on Wednesday, 17 October 2007, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where Flemons will make a presentation about his work.