California researcher to receive prestigious award in biodiversity informatics

2006 Ebbe Nielsen Prize in Biodiversity Informatics

The 2006 Ebbe Nielsen Prize has been awarded to John Wieczorek of the University of California, Berkeley.

This annual Prize was established by the GBIF Governing Board to honor the memory of Dr. Ebbe Schmidt Nielsen, who was an inspirational leader in the fields of biosystematics and biodiversity informatics.

This Prize is the only one in the world that is given in the area of biodiversity informatics. The sum of $35,000 is awarded yearly to a researcher who is combining biosystematics and biodiversity informatics research in an exciting and novel way.

Wieczorek has played a seminal role in developing standards and protocols that allow biodiversity databases to be integrated with one another. For example, he played a large part in the development of a protocol in wide use today, called Distributed Generic Information Retrieval (DiGIR).

He was also instrumental in developing a computer program that makes it possible to assign a latitude and longitude to a biodiversity data record that was originally collected without such information. Being able to convert verbal descriptions to numerical spatial data is "is bringing large portions of biodiversity information 'to life'", according to Ed Murdy, head of the US delegation to the GBIF Governing Board.

The selection of the Prize winner is conducted by the GBIF Science Committee, which in making its announcement noted, "John Wieczorek has a long and very good track record as an amazingly creative force for biodiversity informatics."

Letters in support of Wieczorek's nomination for the Ebbe Nielsen Prize cite his combination of technical expertise and quiet humanity that has helped unite communities of data providers. His leadership has been instrumental in developing community-based, distributed database networks about all terrestrial vertebrates in North America MaNIS for mammals, HerpNET for amphibians and reptiles, and ORNIS for birds.

Weiczorek will use the Prize to help expand these projects to Brazil, Argentina, Madagascar and Russia. The Prize will be awarded on 5 April 2006 in Cape Town, South Africa, where Wieczorek will make a presentation about his work.


For further information or to arrange an interview with GBIF representatives contact: Meredith Lane, GBIF Secretariat, tel: +45 3532 1484, mobile: +45 2875 1484, e-mail: [email protected]

Notes to editors:
The Global Biodiversity Information Facility is an international organisation established in 2001 that is working to make the world's biodiversity information available to the world. GBIF works in partnership with other organisations such as the Clearing House Mechanism of the Convention on Biological Diversity. GBIF Participants include 47 countries and 31 international organisations who have signed a memorandum of understanding that they will share biodiversity data and contribute to the development of increasingly effective mechanisms for making those data available via the Internet. More information can be found at

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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