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Turning Research Data into Scientific Discoveries

Line Pouchard, an information specialist in computational science, brings her expertise in big data management and curation to Brookhaven Lab's Center for Data-Driven Discovery

by Brookhaven National Laboratory
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Line PouchardLine Pouchard is a senior researcher at the Center for Data-Driven Discovery, part of Brookhaven Lab's Computational Science Initiative.Photo courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory

Last week, the Center for Data-Driven Discovery (C3D) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory welcomed its newest member: Line Pouchard, a computational science information specialist. Pouchard joins C3D as a senior researcher.

Since 2014, Pouchard had been an assistant professor at Purdue University, where she led the investigation of the “scientific big data landscape”—referring to the large number of unique datasets that researchers are generating at unprecedented rates. Her research at Purdue focused on aspects of data management and curation for the storing, sharing, and re-using of research data. Pouchard, who spent ten years at the beginning of her career as a research scientist at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, returns to the DOE complex ready to accelerate data-driven discovery in high-energy physics, nanoscience, biology, and other fields. 

“As an information scientist with a passion for making connections between people and data to discover new knowledge for evidence-based decision-making, I am excited by the opportunity to take on the complex data curation challenges produced by experiments at Brookhaven Lab,” said Pouchard. “I look forward to helping scientists with the discovery, integration, and re-use of data and to providing efficient and effective data delivery systems that advance the state of the art in data curation at DOE and beyond.”

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Part of Brookhaven’s Computational Science Initiative (CSI), C3D is a multidisciplinary center for the development of tools and services—in areas such as machine-learning algorithms, visual analytics approaches, and easily reusable knowledge repositories—to improve the scientific discovery process. C3D’s staff of computational scientists, applied mathematicians, and computer scientists work closely with physicists, biologists, and other scientists to identify and address the challenges of scientific data management and analysis. 

Over her career, Pouchard has designed, developed, and deployed many systems to help scientists discover and integrate the vast wealth of scientific data. Her expertise is in the areas of metadata, semantics, ontologies, and provenance—all ways of “tagging” the data with information about their origins, such as when and how the data were generated, and encoding meaning into the data to facilitate their interrelation and integration. With an MS in information science from the University of Tennessee and a PhD in comparative literature from the City University of New York, Pouchard has a background and skillset that has enabled her to determine and serve the needs of users in a wide variety of domains, including environmental science, high-performance computing, and medicine.

One of the systems she developed is an online repository of ontology entities for describing satellite and remote-sensing observations, climate simulations, and other earth science datasets. This ontology repository provides detailed descriptions and annotations that help scientists search for and share data, building upon each other’s work. Pouchard also developed a system that collects data on the “health” of a high-performance computing cluster—its temperature, voltage, and power. Collecting machine health data is important in monitoring power consumption, improving resource management, and detecting malware.  

“An experienced scholar in metadata, ontologies, and data provenance, Line will help lead C3D’s efforts to research and create new approaches for gaining, managing, and sharing insights from extreme-scale data collections,” said CSI director Kerstin Kleese van Dam. “DOE’s large-scale experimental facilities and computing resources are creating unprecedented volumes of data, and Line will play a key role in turning these data into scientific discoveries at Brookhaven.”