At Phenome 2018, researchers and developers in the phenomics space—including plant biologists, engineers, data scientists, ecologists, agronomists, and computer scientists—will come together to learn, innovate, and network in sunny Tucson, Arizona. Don’t miss out this year! Registration is open for Phenome 2018: Connecting Biology, Systems, and Tools, to be held on Feb. 14–17 in Tucson, AZ.

While the ability to generate large quantities of phenotypic data has blossomed, techniques for extracting, interpreting, and maintaining meaningful data have lagged. The Data Crunching and New Analytics session of Phenome 2018 will address these issues as presenters incorporate computer science, engineering, and mathematics to address important biological questions.

Data extraction

In some research fields, complex plant structural traits are still determined using time-intensive manual measurements, but the use of new analytical methods enables extracting useful information from phenotypic data. Computer engineer Amy Tabb (United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service) will discuss a system to automate phenotypic measurements in her talk “Phenotyping tree shape in the field using computer vision and robotics”. In her talk “Using mathematics to dissect and quantify the plant form, above and belowground”, Mao Li (Donald Danforth Plant Science Center) will also explain how she uses her skills as a mathematician to extract phenotypic information across plant organs and scales using persistent homology.

Data interpretation and fusion

Hong Cui will share her expertise in using algorithms to interconvert data between humans and computers in her talk “From text blobs to computable data: challenges in mining phenotypical data from text”. Dan Runcie (University of California-Davis) will share his work in developing a new statistical model during his talk “A Bayesian approach to quantitative genetics for high-dimensional traits” that helps decipher meaningful relationships from noise while enabling modeling of molecular and morphological traits and gene–environment interactions. In his talk “The shape of plants to come: in situ computation and field math”, Alexander Bucksch (University of Georgia) will present the techniques he uses to mathematically describe root shapes in the field while statistically evaluating computed shape descriptors. Keynote speaker Tiina Roose (University of Southampton) will discuss how her research combines imaging data, soil analysis, and mathematical modeling to understand complex interactions between plant root structure and soil properties.

Data management and sharing

While data extraction and fusion lead to important connections between phenotypes, genotypes, and the environment, maintaining these large data sets and making them accessible to a broader audience remains a challenge. Keynote speaker Sotos Tsaftaris (University of Edinburgh) will discuss how he applies his expertise in medical image analysis and machine learning towards phenotyping plants and making the technology accessible to researchers across the globe.

From the ecological standpoint, Rob Guralnick (University of Florida) will explain how he uses and improves the quality of environmental data, including biodiversity distributions, to examine changes in species diversity while making the data available and useful to others.

GENERAL SESSION III: Data Crunching and New Analytics, will take place Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. Concurrent Sessions will also focus on this topic; submit your abstract by December 1st to be considered for a talk.