Focus on the group's mission

Created in September 2023, the Environmental Bioinformatics Group is developing data science solutions to address environmental challenges. It builds on the institute’s capacities in coordinating biodata resources and developing data science tools and services to contribute to planetary preservation and restoration by addressing the global crisis and delivering direct benefits for society.

By meeting key needs in data collection, integration, and analysis, the team delivers tools and services to support data-driven, empirically informed, and model-guided policies and actions. It thereby contributes to strongly position Switzerland on environmental issues at national and international levels.

Data science solutions to address environmental challenges

Planetary preservation and restoration is vital for human wellbeing. But to protect and restore the environment that sustains humankind we need to understand it. Improved data integration and interoperability greatly enhance the potential of biodiversity and environmental data to guide and assess efforts to restore and protect vital ecosystems. The Environmental Bioinformatics group builds data science solutions by: 

  • Developing bioinformatics tools and services that address environmental challenges e.g. biodiversity loss, food security, responses to climate change, etc. 
  • Supporting the FAIRification of environmental/biodiversity data and building Research Data Management capacity amongst researchers 
  • Fostering synergies among SIB Groups active in environmental sciences and agriculture 
  • Diversifying the impacts of the future SwissBioData ecosystem through environmental-data driver projects 

These data science solutions will aim to advance three principal axes: the stewardship of data collection, concurrently with metadata, into open repositories; the integration of resources to enhance interoperability across biodiversity platforms; and the provision of tools and services including modelling and artificial intelligence to capitalise on the rich and connected data for enhanced analysis.

Connecting to national and international stakeholders

In Switzerland and internationally, there is growing recognition of the need to connect institutes and agencies to bring researchers and practitioners together and coordinate efforts to address environmental challenges. The Environmental Bioinformatics group builds connections by participating in community initiatives and projects:  

  • The European Reference Genome Atlas (ERGA) initiative is a community effort to coordinate the production of high-quality reference genome sequences of eukaryotic species in Europe. In September 2023, Robert Waterhouse was elected chair of the initiative.  

Read more about the ERGA project  

  • The Biodiversity Genomics Europe (BGE) project brings together the DNA barcoding and reference genome networks to accelerate the use of genomic science to enhance understanding of biodiversity. 

Read more about BGE  

  • The ELIXIR Biodiversity Community is building connections across the many infrastructures and services active in biodiversity research within and beyond ELIXIR. Robert Waterhouse is also co-leading ELIXIR’s priority area on "Biodiversity, Food Security, and Pathogens" for the Scientific Programme 2024-2028.

Read the ELIXIR blog on F1000  


View our group members here