Telling VIVO Stories at Brown University with Andrew Ashton, Steven McCauley, Jean Rainwater and Ted Lawless

"Telling VIVO Stories" is a community-led initiative aimed at introducing project leaders and their ideas to one another while providing VIVO implementation details for the VIVO community and beyond. The following interview includes personal observations that may not represent the opinions and views of Brown University or the VIVO Project.

Julia Trimmer from Duke talked with the VIVO team at Brown University to learn about their VIVO story.

"What are your roles with VIVO at Brown?"

Andy Ashton oversees the Library group that maintains their VIVO system, called Researchers@Brown ( and works with other groups across campus who are also involved with the system. Steve McCauley is a programmer who is 100% on VIVO. Ted Lawless, who was on vacation, is a programmer but also works on other projects. Jean Rainwater is the project manager and has been involved in the project since the beginning.

"Tell me a little about your organization or institution."

Brown University in Providence Rhode Island is a private university that just celebrated its 250th anniversary. Brown is a research university that's relatively smaller than most, with about 6,000 undergraduate and 3,200 graduate students. Brown was one of the first universities to implement an open curriculum, which many liberal arts colleges have adopted, and only relatively recently have they begun moving beyond their historical focus on undergraduate education to more including more research goals.

"Why did you decide on VIVO?"

They needed to replace a legacy faculty system which included a lot of out-of-date data and they hired a consultant to look at options. VIVO came up on top of that exploration.

"What were your requirements going in?"

Brown didn't want to get locked into a home-grown system and wanted to invest in a system that would last. There were different requirements at Brown; and "there was a kind of tension between users looking for public-facing research profile system and others looking more for the data to be used for other purposes" like reporting and assessment. Most liked VIVO's data-centric model and also that it was open-source and semantic web-based.

"What strategic organizational or institutional goals did VIVO help you meet?"

Brown's goal for their VIVO is expressing, through the public-facing profiles, what the Brown researchers have been doing. Ted Lawless created a profile manager editing interface for Brown's VIVO implementation, which has been really successful for them.

Also, Steve did a lot of work to accommodate the output and scholarship of Brown's prominent and vocal faculty in the arts and humanities. Duke University's team has been a collaborator in this area. The response to this functionality was initially negative among humanities faculty but it's quieted down. The Brown team thinks that there are perceptions among the humanities faculty that VIVO is useful to the sciences but that it's not as applicable to them. Brown hired a person for six months who engaged with faculty and department managers before the launch, and the team feels that resource helped get faculty involved. Currently, more biomedical faculty than others are actively interested and engaged in Researchers@Brown.

"What are your plans for VIVO in the future?"

Brown has committed to ongoing development for Researchers@Brown. They will be integrating more sources for publications and adding integration with their digital repository. The team wants to make it very easy for researchers to display their data sets in their profile. They are working on structuring the textual data from their legacy system. They're also involved in a high-level assessment of campus data sources and governance; Researchers@Brown is part of that discussion, although it's not an authoritative source of much data.

The Brown team plans to continue working on their profile manager, making the interface more useful to faculty members and integrating it into other web frameworks. They would also like to share their profile manager code with other VIVO institutions who might like to use it.

"What is at the top of your VIVO "wish list?"

The Brown team's top priority for Researchers@Brown is to make it easy for researchers to edit their pages and to make the profiles easy to publish on the web. According to Steve, "if it's not doing that, it's not serving its purpose." They would like to run the public face of Vivo in a more manageable presentation layer, keeping the data and the ontology as it is but adding more control over the display layer.

Congratulations to the Brown team for making Researchers@Brown such an amazing resource for discovering your faculty members! Be sure to check it out at

If you liked this VIVO story... Consider telling another one. To find out how, go to "Telling VIVO Stories Guidelines" here. Questions? Read the "Telling VIVO Stories: Community Engagement Task Force Charge" or contact facilitator Julia Trimmer .

VIVO Strategic Goals for 2015-2016 Create the Foundation for Roadmap and Strategic Planning

15 VIVO Goals for 2015-2016 Are Identified and Selected by the VIVO Strategy Group are Presented for Comment

Last week, eleven members of the VIVO Strategy Group met on December 1 & 2 at Northwestern University's Evanston, IL campus to set priorities for the upcoming two years. Prior to the meeting, a 3-question survey was sent to 41 people who are members of the VIVO Leadership Group, the VIVO Steering Group, the VIVO Management Team, and the VIVO Strategy Group. 

Survey Questions:
  • What do you think the value proposition is for VIVO?  
  • What do you see as VIVO’s top goals in the next 2-3 years?
  • What do you think are the key issues and challenges for VIVO that need to be addressed in the next 2-3 years?

Twenty people answered the survey and provided a total of 181 bulleted responses. The answers were categorized into three strategic themes: Community; Sustainability; and Technology (see survey results and other meeting information here).

Key objectives of the VIVO Strategy Meeting:
  • develop a shared understanding of VIVO's value proposition; 
  • discuss VIVO goals & issues; 
  • prioritize VIVO goals; and 
  • develop high-level action plans for prioritized VIVO goals.
Working Value Proposition

A working value proposition was drafted for further refinement: VIVO provides an integrated, searchable, view of the academic work of an organization.

Five goals were selected for each strategic theme and are presented below. High level action plans are being finalized and will be communicated in the very near future.

Top 15 2015-2016 goals for VIVO categorized by Strategic Theme:


  1. Increase productivity of the VIVO project.
  2. Develop a more transparent governance operation with clear roles and responsibilities.  
  3. Increase the number of contributors and the work they do to support software development, ontology! development, and other activities in the community.
  4. Maintain a current and dynamic web presence.
  5. Develop key goals and activities for leveraging key partnerships outside of the VIVO community (e.g. ORCID, CRIS, CASRAI,W3C, SciEnCV, CRediT, etc.) and align with VIVO strategy.


  1. Create an inclusive and welcoming open source! community aligned with VIVO's mission.
  2. Develop a clear value proposition for VIVO that explains the benefits of VIVO, the data model and the ontology.
  3. Establish a road map.
  4. Increase adoption by growing installed base.
  5. Clearly identify and aggressively promote the value membership.


  1. Develop democratic code contribution (and ontology contribution) processes. 
  2. Clarify the Core VIVO architecture, including guidelines and processes for making contributions available.
  3. Develop VIVO search for cross-institutional and cross-platform use, thus expanding the capabilities to existing and future users.
  4. Improve/increase VIVO core modularity with plug and play reasoners, triple stores, and search engines, e.g. to allow 3rd party and user-developed functionality to be easily ntegrated.
  5. Institute a distributed, team-based development and release management process for all VIVO project work.


Your comments and strongly encouraged. Please send your feedback to Layne Johnson, VIVO Project Director at ljohnson at

Preview of VIVO Earth and Space Science Research at the 47th American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting

The American Geophysical Union (AGU), with greater than 62,000 members from more than 140 countries, advances the Earth and space sciences by catalyzing and supporting the efforts of individual scientist. AGU galvanizes a community of Earth and space scientists that collaboratively advances and communicates science and its power to ensure a sustainable future.

AGU will be holding its fall meeting next week, December 15-19 in San Francisco, CA. Nearly 24,000 attendees are expected to attend, making this the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world.  With more than 1700 sessions, the program offers a unique mix of more than 23,000 oral and poster presentations. 

Several members from the VIVO Community will be presenting their research, some of which demonstrates the central role of VIVO in their work.

UCAR (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research)

Matthew Mayernik and colleagues will be co-convening a poster and oral session which is taking place on Wednesday December 17, and will cover the topic of "Semantic Web and Provenance: Distributed Earth Science Resources in the Data Life Cycle". The presentations and posters will focus on the use of semantic web! and provenance technologies to better represent Earth science phenomena and to facilitate the discovery and use of Earth science information and data resources. There are several members from the VIVO Community who will be part of this session, and their work is described below.

The Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) 

A number of posters and oral presentations by Peter Fox, Patrick West, Stephan Zednik, Han Wang, Yu Chen, and others are among those persons on the roster of presenters from RPI. 

Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO)

Han Wang, et al. will present a poster entitled “DCO-VIVO: A Collaborative Data Platform for the Deep Carbon Science Communities”. VIVO plays an integrative role in the DCO project because thousands of DCO scientists from institutions across the globe are involved with cross-community and cross-disciplinary collaboration, a distinctive features in DCO's flexible research framework. An excerpt from Han’s abstract describes how VIVO is being used in the DCO project:Han Wang, et al. will present a poster entitled “DCO-VIVO: A Collaborative Data Platform for the Deep Carbon Science Communities”. VIVO plays an integrative role in the DCO project because thousands of DCO scientists from institutions across the globe are involved with cross-community and cross-disciplinary collaboration, a distinctive features in DCO's flexible research framework. An excerpt from Han’s abstract describes how VIVO is being used in the DCO project:

“The DCO-VIVO solution expedites research collaboration between DCO scientists and communities. Based on DCO's specific requirements, the DCO Data Science team developed a series of extensions to the VIVO platform including extending the VIVO information model, extended query over the semantic information within VIVO, integration with other open source! collaborative environments and data management systems, using single sign-on, assigning of unique Handles to DCO objects, and publication and dataset ingesting extensions using existing publication systems. We present here the iterative development of these requirements that are now in daily use by the DCO community of scientists for research reporting, information sharing, and resource discovery in support of research activities and program management.”

The Laboratory for Atmospheric an Space Physics (LASP)

Members of the VIVO Community at in Boulder, CO will also be at the AGU meeting. A poster describing LASP's work using VIVO to create a semantic database of metadata about LASP datasets will be presented. Anne Wilson, Michael Cox, Doug Lindholm, Irfan Nadiadi, and Tyler Traver and will describe LASP’s work and VIVO’s key role:

The LASP extended metadata repository, LEMR, is a database of information about the datasets served by LASP. The database is populated with information garnered via web forms and automated processes. This information can be pulled dynamically for many purposes. Web sites such as LISIRD can include this information in web page content as it is rendered to ensure that users get current, accurate information. It can also be pulled to create metadata records in various metadata formats. The LEMR database has been implemented as a RDF triplestore, coupled with SPARQL over HTTP read access to enable semantic queries over the repository contents. To create the repository, the LASP team leveraged VIVO to manage and create new ontologies.. A variety of ontologies were used in creating the triplestore, including ontologies that come with VIVO, such as FOAF. Also, the W3C DCAT ontology! was integrated and extended to describe properties! of data products that need to be captured, such as spectral range. The LASP presentation will describe the architecture, ontology issues, and tools used to create LEMR and plans for its evolution.

Interested in following AGU Fall 2014 happenings? Here’s the hashtag: #AGU14