Sunday, March 29, 2015

Andreas leaves Agro-Know

A couple of weeks ago, our colleague Andreas announced that he would leave Agro-Know after exactly 2 years in the company; that was really sad, as +Andreas was one of the nicest persons in Agro-Know. Despite the fact that he joined Agro-Know a couple of years after we established our main offices, he quickly became one of those colleagues who contributed in this special connection between the Agro-Know team members and he was usually the one trying to find opportunities to celebrate and bring the team members even closer.

I still remember his first days in Agro-Know: Sitting at a desk between Babis and me, he was trying to get some hints on what he actually had to do, while Babis and me remained silent during (almost) the whole day (something that surely made him feel rather awkward)! It was back in a time where new team members were really few and seeing a new person in the team was quite something; we didn't have the opportunity to see new faces that often and we were somewhat reserved regarding our reactions towards new people.

Andreas started by supporting some small LdV projects that Agro-Know was participating in (like AGRICOM and ISLE), then he moved on by coordinating our participation in projects like Herbal.Mednet and he ended up directly supporting the coordination of large projects like agINFRA. He managed to evolve really quickly and meet the challenges of the position of a project manager in Agro-Know (which, trust me, is very demanding... been there, done that!). He was always a great guy to work with; calm, confident and always aware of what had to be done, by when etc. - he knew when to put effort in something and when to deliver it with the minimum effort needed so he was no source of overhead. He was a "jack of all trades", as he was always eager to work on anything related to his job, including project management, project deliverables, papers/submissions, contribution in events - literally anything that you may think of. He traveled a lot, met a lot of new people, represented Agro-Know and UAH in several occasions and he was creating opportunities for collaboration with new organizations.

Andreas & me during EDF 2014 (source: 

Andreas decided to leave Agro-Know for his own reasons. He explains some of them in a really nice farewell blog post on the Agro-Know blog (because he was also one of our top bloggers). I wouldn't want to go into details but the point is that it was a tough decision to leave Agro-Know and I totally understand that. We already miss him and I am sure that he also misses his Agro-Know colleagues; it is this special chemistry that exists mostly between the older members (and I am nor referring to age here!) and we try to pass it on to our numerous newer members as well. However, this change was for a good cause so we are all happy for Andreas.

His last day at the office was a celebration: He went on with his work, handing over anything needed to his Project Management team mates, sorted out some last-minute tasks, he made a really great presentation which was (among others) an overview of his 2 years in Agro-Know and ended with a lovely slideshow of images during this time. He was kind enough to share a home-made chocolate cake with us, combined with a marvelous bottle of Martini Asti (it was the first time I tasted it but surely not the last!).

During the last day of Andreas in Agro-Know

I just want to wish Andreas good luck with whatever he is doing and the best for his new ventures in a much larger company!

P.S. I feel that I have to mention that Andreas was also a Qwertee addict; we had made a number of joint orders during their Insanitee Sales and I am sure that this tradition will go on during the next months ;-)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Info Day on the «Marie Sklodowska-Curie» actions in Horizon 2020

Marie Curie actions logoOn March 12, 2015, an Info Day on the funding opportunities of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions in the context of the Horizon 2020 was organized by the Centre for Research & Technology Hellas (CERTH), the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, supported by the National Documentation Center (EKT) and hosted at the lovely premises of the Aristotle University Research Dissemination Center (KEDEA), at Thessaloniki, Greece. Since we at Agro-Know are putting our effort in various aspects and calls of the Horizon 2020 programme, we considered this an important event that would allow us to get in touch with the community (mostly researchers) that aims to submit proposals in the context of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions. In this context, Maritina and I travelled from Athens to Thessaloniki in order to attend the event and meet the researchers. For those not familiar with these actions, they aim to promote the mobility of researchers both within and outside Europe, transfer of knowledge and attraction of the best researchers from other countries to Europe.
Intro to the Infoday
Intro to the Infoday
The event started with a presentation about the EURAXESS Greece Network by Dr. Sanopoulos (CERTH) and the Enterprise Europe Network Hellas by Mrs. Piteli (Praxi Network). Both presentations aimed to provide participants with the required support tools that will allow their networking and increase their funding opportunities.
The second half of the event was dedicated to the presentation of the various Marie Curie funding opportunities through the H2020 programme. Mrs. Annouchka Nabokoff, Project adviser, European Commission, Research Executive Agency. Mrs. Nabokoff presented the various Marie Curie funding opportunities in details and responded to the numerous questions coming from the audience, mostly asking clarifications on the requirements for applying for these calls. You can find the agenda of the event in the EKT website.
Mrs. Nabokoff explaining the Marie Curie calls
Mrs. Nabokoff explaining the Marie Curie calls
The event provided us with the opportunity to contact directly Greek researchers (such as PhD candidates, research stuff and academia from various disciplines) who are interested in applying for funding in the context of the Marie Curie calls; not only we were able to better understand their needs in terms of applying for funding but they were also kind enough to complete a short questionnaire that we had prepared for the occasion,  aiming to collect feedback on how aware these researchers are of the Horizon 2020 Open Access Policy and the Open Research Data Pilot (see this PDF), and which are the major challenges that they meet when preparing a proposal to be funded by the Horizon 2020 programme. This feedback will allow us to fine-tune the services that we are currently preparing, aiming to serve people who would like to get support from experts with the description of an Open Access policy/plan for their proposal, with the implementation of an open access plan in their running research project etc.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

RDA 5th Plenary Meeting

The 5th Plenary Meeting of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) is taking place at San Diego, CA, USA between 9-11 of March 2015. Following the tradition, Agro-Know is represented for once more at this great event by our colleague Giorgos Papoutsis, our  Data Ingestion Associate who is participating as a representative of the Big Data Europe Η2020 Project and he will focus his contributions to the Agricultural Data Interoperability Interest Group meeting, where he will present the case of the agINFRA project as a mean for connecting agricultural data through an open and participatory data infrastructure. It should be noted that Giorgos is also actively involved in the data ingestion processes of AGRIS.
Giorgos with RDA participants
Giorgos Papoutsis with Prof. Toshihiro Ashino (left) and our agINFRA partner Dr. Xuefu Zhang (right)
I have personally participated in the 2nd (Washington D.C.) and 3rd (Dublin, Ireland) RDA Plenary Meetings but for various reasons I was not able to attend this specific one. It came during a period were we were all busy with the development of our new solution for the Horizon 2020 Open Access Policy (aiming at both proposals and projects) so I missed the opportunity to get in touch with my colleagues attending the 5th meeting. From my previous experience, I can only say that the RDA Plenary meetings are a great opportunity to collaborate with great people all over the world, work on common issues, get updated on topics of interest and of course network!
Despite that fact, I am still closely following (and supporting remotely) the work of both the Agricultural Data Interoperability Interest Group (mostly through the agINFRA project contributions) but also the Wheat Data Interoperability Working Group, where a great handbook for people working with wheat research data is under preparation :-)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Special Track on Metadata and Semantics for Agriculture, Food & Environment (AgroSEM'15)

MTSR 2015 logoThe Special Track on Metadata and Semantics for Agriculture, Food & Environment (AgroSEM'15) will take place between 9-11 of September 2015, hosted at the Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom. As usually, the Special Track is collocated with the Metadata and Semantics Research (MTSR) Conference and this is also the case this year: The 8th Edition of the Special Track on Metadata and Semantics for Agriculture, Food & Environment is hosted as part of MTSR 2015.
This track aims to bring together researchers and practitioners that are dealing with theoretical, methodological, experimental and application-oriented aspects of knowledge engineering, applied to agriculture, food and environment. It aims to serve as a discussion forum where researchers and interested experts will present the results of their work, and establish liaisons with other groups that are working on related subjects. In addition, it aims to outline the rich potential of these subjects as an application field for advanced metadata- and semantic-driven systems and services.
If you want to submit your research paper, you will need to do so by May 19th 2015 (using the Springer LNCS style, PDF file submission).
If your paper is approved by the reviewers (and you have registered to the Conference), it will be included in the Conference Proceedings to be published by Springer in the Communications in Computer and Information Science (CCIS) book series (7899). CCIS is abstracted/indexed in DBLP, Google Scholar, EI-Compendex, Mathematical Reviews, SCImago, Scopus. CCIS volumes are also submitted for the inclusion in ISI Proceedings. 
I feel really happy about the fact that this year I am a member of the Special Track Program Committee - I have participated as an author/facilitator in previous instances of the AgroSEM Special Track and now I will get to support this event from a different perspective.
You can find more information about the Special Track and the submission process at the AgroSEM'15 web page