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UW Demonstration Projects Receive Wyoming DataHub Grants

August 8, 2022
woman holding a page with pressed plants
Volunteer Madison Dale, of Laramie, shows the 1 millionth plant specimen -- a Wyoming Indian paintbrush -- mounted at UW’s Rocky Mountain Herbarium in 2020. The herbarium is one of the partners in a new Wyoming DataHub-supported project to make data on Wyoming plants more discoverable and usable by both university and external user groups. (UW Photo)

The Wyoming DataHub, a component of the Wyoming Innovation Partnership (WIP), recently announced summer grant awards to support innovative data-sharing projects at the University of Wyoming.

The grant program will support projects that enhance or expand established data-sharing activities or ongoing data-sharing research and development efforts. While the initial recipients are UW projects, the Wyoming DataHub will collaborate with Wyoming community colleges, state agencies, private-sector partners and others to increase data sharing and research across the state.

“These projects demonstrate the wide variety and innovation in data sharing at UW,” says Jeff Hamerlinck, Wyoming DataHub principal investigator. “Each proposal represents a different way of learning more about our communities and environments through existing data across the STEM fields and arts and humanities.”

The following proposals received up to $30,000 each to support faculty and students during the spring and summer of 2022. Awardees will share the results of their work as part of the fall UW School of Computing seminar series.

DEVISE: Developing Value-Added Tools to Assist Wyoming Natural Resource Managers and Beyond

Jerod Merkle, an assistant professor in the Department of Zoology and Physiology, and Shannon Albeke, a senior research scientist with the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center, were awarded funding to further develop Derived Environmental Variability Indices Spatial Extractor (DEVISE). The program helps land and wildlife managers organize, visualize and synthesize large amounts of data to inform decision-making related to habitat restoration, how many animals to harvest and optimal placement of future development. The Wyoming DataHub funds will improve DEVISE with new web-based geoprocessing tools and on-demand data extraction and plotting.

Amplifying Community Voices: Profiles in Wyoming Resilience and Growth

Assistant Professor Jason McConnell and Professor Jean Garrison, both with the Malcolm Wallop Civic Engagement Program in the School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies, were awarded funding for their “Amplifying Community Voices: Profiles in Wyoming Resilience and Growth” project. The funds from the Wyoming DataHub will be used to share data collected from a broad range of citizens and stakeholders through pictures and narratives. Data will be shared on an interactive website using geographic information system (GIS) technology to provide dynamic access to qualitative data about diverse community perspectives in Wyoming.

Building a Plant Data Hub: Enabling data sharing, enhancing resources and creating new tools for broad audiences to discover the flora of Wyoming

Professor David Tank, Assistant Research Scientist Ben Legler and Senior Research Scientist Burrell “Ernie” Nelson, all in the Department of Botany and the Rocky Mountain Herbarium (RMH); and Associate Director Mark Andersen, Associate Research Scientist Bonnie Heidel and Director Gary Beauvais, all with the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database (WYNDD), were awarded funding to improve integration of knowledge of Wyoming plants that is gathered, synthesized and disseminated by RMH and WYNDD. The integration will improve these UW-based resources that maintain large, core datasets, allowing both units to significantly enhance existing resources, reach broader audiences and make their data more discoverable and usable by both university and external user groups.

Visually Searching 90 Years of Anaconda Co. Geological Research

Paul Flesher, American Heritage Center (AHC) director, and Ginny Kilander, Anaconda librarian and reference services manager at the AHC, received funding to support the creation of a map-based GIS display for the results of 90 years of minerals exploration of the Anaconda Co. The five tons of materials contain reports, geologic maps and data from geologic, geochemical, drilling and assay exploration studies. This improved visualization of mineral exploration data will enable users to visualize patterns of distribution at the tens of thousands of Anaconda research sites.

About the Wyoming DataHub

The Wyoming DataHub is a central stop for accessing data, tools and training for educators and students, entrepreneurs and industry leaders, and all Wyoming citizens. This unified effort will help spur economic development, strengthen Wyoming’s workforce, support industry and promote research collaborations. The Wyoming DataHub aims to facilitate digital storage, management, curation and tools for research data and the community of researchers at UW and community colleges. More information is available at

About the Wyoming Innovation Partnership 

WIP was created at the request of Gov. Mark Gordon in 2021 to modernize and focus Wyoming’s efforts to develop a resilient workforce and economy. The effort aims to better align Wyoming’s economic development agenda by increasing collaborations between state entities and, ultimately, local partners. The partnership involves UW, the state’s community colleges, the Wyoming Business Council and the Department of Workforce Services, with an emphasis on developing innovative solutions that support and enhance Wyoming’s economy, workforce and sources of revenue.

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