IS 599 – Spring 2014 Practicum Experience

I am interested in a career in environmental information management,
particularly in a governmental natural resource management agency. My course
work to date includes classes in geographic information science,
environmental information management, and data visualization for
environmental science.

Practicum Location: Great Smoky Mountains National Park; National Institute
for Computational Sciences

Practicum Objectives:
I would like to develop advanced environmental information processing and
data visualization skills by working with species occurrence records and a
high performance computing environment as part of a technology transfer
project between the University of Tennessee and the National Park Service.

The following four practicum goals and associated outcomes are proposed for
this project:

(1) Develop proficiency in running the MaxEnt species distribution modelling
program in a PC environment for determining probability of species
distribution given environmental variables and demonstrate acquired
proficiency by providing training and instruction to Park Service staff in
use of the MaxEnt program on Park resources configured to run MaxEnt.
Training materials and sessions will be produced as an outcome of the

(2) Gain skills with workflow and parallel processing in a high performance
computing environment on a single-system-image supercomputer and demonstrate
these skills by generating species distribution models as requested by
practicum supervisor. There are currently 540 species models out of ~36,000
species in the park. A collection of new models will demonstrate the outcome
of the practicum.

(3) Create documentation for running the MaxEnt model in a PC environment
using appropriate technology such as a wiki with walkthroughs, screen
captures, or video screencasts as appropriate. A URL will be provided to the
final online documentation to demonstrate the outcome of the practicum.

(4) Practice sound data curation principles in managing both model inputs and
model outputs by successfully building on the store of models available at .
An HPC data management system such as XSEDE ( will be used to
manage the inputs and outputs to demonstrate the outcome of the practicum.

In a rough estimation, I expect to spend about a 1/3 of the required 150
hours learning MaxEnt on PC and HPC environments, 1/3 writing documentation,
and 1/3 creating and delivering training (to commence in March, 2014) to
enable NPS staff to implement MaxEnt modelling on both PC and HPC platforms.


About Tanner Jessel

I am a recent M.S. in Information Science graduate from the University of Tennessee School of Information Science. I was formerly a graduate research assistant funded by DataONE (Data Observation Network for Earth). Prior, I worked for four years as a content lead and biodiversity scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Biodiversity Informatics Program. Building on my work experience in biodiversity and environmental informatics, my work with DataONE focused on exploring the nature of scientific collaborations necessary for scientific inquiry. I also conducted research concerning user experience and usability, and assisted in development of member nodes with an emphasis on spatial data and infrastructure. I assisted with research designed to understand sociocultural issues within collaborative research communities. Through August 1, 2014, I was based at the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee School of Information Science in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Posted on January 22, 2014, in Coursework and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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