Big Data Florida


Rob van Woesik
Florida Institute of Technology

Big Data in Biology & Ecology

Monday, October 16, 2017

Big Data in Biology & Ecology

Whether understanding the effects of ocean temperatures on hurricane trajectories, or predicting sea-level rise, making sense of big data requires analytics that condense information so that they are interpretable. In this seminar I will focus on the tropical oceans, and present some of the big datasets we use to solve some contemporary problems of coral reefs. For example, a common question is: What is the relationship between water temperatures in the oceans and the distribution of marine species? In a contemporary context, that question becomes, as the oceans continue to warm, where are species likely to survive? It is often assumed that the oceans are homogenous, but similar to regional climates on the land, there are local and regional climates in the oceans. Indeed, the oceans are spatially and temporally patchy, and my work is trying to decipher biological and ecological patterns amongst this patchiness. Today I will discuss how I use big data sets to address where and why marine disease outbreaks occur, where corals are likely to survive ocean warming, and where coral reefs might keep up with sea-level rise.

About the Speaker

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Robert van Woesik is a Professor of Biological Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology. He earned his BSc from the University of Queensland and his PhD from James Cook University in Australia.  He has published over 175 papers in international journals, has over 6500 citations, and has an h-index of 42. He is funded by the National Science Foundation to study ocean warming and sea level rise impacts on coral reefs of the western Pacific Ocean.  Dr. van Woesik carries out additional research supported by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission to identify coral refuges in the Florida Reef Tract.  As an educator, he teaches Coral Ecology, Modeling for Ecology & Biology, Marine Ecology and Landscape Ecology. Dr. van Woesik serves as Director of the Institute for Research on Global Climate Change.  Contact him at

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