2023 Users Workshop Explores Storytelling with Earth Systems Science Data

2023 Users Workshop Attendees
2023 Users Workshop Attendees (click to enlarge)

The 2023 Unidata Users Workshop, with the theme Storytelling with Earth Systems Science Data: Challenges and Opportunities for Effective, Ethical, and Reproducible Science , took place June 5-8 Boulder, Colorado and online. The Unidata Users Committee hosted the workshop to advance our collective ability to tell effective and ethical stories using Earth System Science Data. The challenge of storytelling with our data was infused throughout the event; workshop attendees ranging from graduate students to senior scientists explored ways to communicate the meaning of scientific ideas in effective and ethical ways, using a variety of different kinds of data, and taking advantage of new tools like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML).

Dr. Dennis Dye from SIPI
Exploring ethical use of community data.

Over the four-day workshop, presenters and attendees engaged in conversation and learned about new tools and techniques to analyze data across disciplines. Traditional training has been centered in disciplinary practices; increasingly we need to combine datasets and approaches from multiple disciplines to get at the intersections inherent in Earth Systems Science. Sessions focusing on AI/ML helped participants learn how to use these emerging tools to draw connections and identify patterns within complex data. Other portions explored ethical use of data, including the ideas highlighted by CARE (Collective benefit, Authority to control, Responsibility, and Ethics) and FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data practices. Together, these ideas help us work toward Open and reproducible scientific workflows that lead to the highest quality of research.

Hands-on learning experiences were also an important part of the workshop. Several of the workshop days included afternoon breakout sessions suitable for more in-depth exploration of data and concepts. Numerous sessions allowed attendees to open up their laptops and try out the tools and techniques we had been discussing with their own data. Jupyter notebooks, pre-configured hosted remotely on Unidata's Science Gateway JupyterHub server, made this process easy for everyone, even if they had not previously worked with the technology.

Nicole Corbin from Unidata
Take-home project

All of our work to understand the uses of multidisciplinary data converged around the need to tell stories to a variety of audiences using our data. Attendees took a deep dive into what it means to tell a story, and how to tell whatever story emerges from their data in an ethical and reproducible manner. To help put the workshop's ideas into practice, attendees participated in a “Take-home Project” with the goals to:

  1. Use storytelling principles to tell the story of data and any resulting analyses/insights
  2. Share the story with a specific audience using an appropriate tool
Student poster session
Student poster session

One of the most exciting things about Unidata Users Workshops is the chance to interact with students. In addition to working together on the Take-home projects, the workshop included many opportunities for informal discussion, as well as a poster session that allowed student attendees to describe their current work to the other workshop participants.

The workshop presentation and breakout sessions were recorded, and are available for viewing on the 2023 workshop web site's Sessions, Videos, and Materials page. In cases where presenters provided additional materials, those are linked as well. We hope to be able to follow up with attendees in the coming months. We'd like to learn whether the ideas presented have helped participants to communicate their science to others more easily and effectively.

Editor's Note:
Unidata Users Workshops are organized, traditionally every three years, by the Unidata Users Committee with assistance from staff at the Unidata Program Center. This year's event was originally scheduled for 2021, but was delayed due to COVID-19 event restrictions. The workshop was the 12th in the series, and the first to be conducted as a hybrid (both in-person and virtual) event.

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