Kyle Copas (GBIF)
Kyle Copas is a creative and communications professional whose work over the past two decades has focused on the intersection of sustainable design, conservation and biodiversity information. Copas joined GBIF—the Global Biodiversity Information Facility—as a science writer and now serves as communications manager, leading outreach and engagement with the GBIF network and its stakeholders while contributing to the ongoing development and improvement of GBIF.org. He previously served in several roles with NatureServe, a biodiversity conservation non-profit based outside Washington, D.C., and as communications director for the pioneering architecture and sustainable planning consultancy, William McDonough + Partners. Trained as a poet, writer and documentarian, Copas helped produce World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements, an award-winning film by Chris Farina and Rosalia Films. A long-time resident of Charlottesville, Virginia, he is a native of Lafayette, Indiana, and a graduate of Wabash College.
Sandy Knapp is botanist who is a specialist on the taxonomy and evolution of the nightshade family, Solanaceae, and she has spent much time in the field collecting plants, mostly in South America. She works at the Natural History Museum, London, where she arrived in 1992 to manage the international project Flora Mesoamericana - a synoptic inventory of the approximately 18,000 species of plants of southern Mexico and the isthmus of Central America. She is the author of several popular books on the history of science and botanical exploration, including the award-winning Potted Histories (2004), and more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers. She is actively involved in promoting the role of taxonomy and the importance of science worldwide. Sandy is a trustee of several conservation and scientific organisations, and in May 2018 took office as President of the Linnean Society of London. In 2009 she was honored by the Peter Raven Outreach Award by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists for her work in public engagement with science and the UK National Biodiversity Network’s John Burnett Medal for her work in biodiversity conservation; she holds honorary professorships at University College London and Stockholm University. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her work in Solanaceae spans biodiversity from taxonomy to phylogenetics and evolution, with a focus on the wild relatives of important solanaceous crops. She is currently working on in-depth taxonomic treatments of members of the family in Australasia and South America and on phylogenetics and diversification of Solanum worldwide.
Paul Kersey is Deputy Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Following a Ph.D. and post-doctoral work in the molecular biology and genetics of fission yeast, Paul has worked in bioinformatics since 1999. At the European Bioinformatics Institute, he managed several big data resources providing genomic information to the scientific community, especially databases for non-vertebrate species (including plants, fungi, and insects) as part of the Ensembl system. He has been involved in several large scale genome sequencing and annotation projects and has coordinated and contributed to activities focused on data standards and integration across the UK, Europe and globally. He was joint coordinator of the Plant Sciences community within the ELIXIR data infrastructure from 2015-2018. His research group is currently working on the simultaneous visualisation of data from many genomes, and he is heavily involved in two major genomics projects at Kew: PAFTOL (which aims to establish the evolutionary history of plants and fungi) and the Darwin Tree of Life (a major UK programme to determine the genomic sequence of all British species).
Dr. Eslpeth Haston has experience in taxonomic research, curation systems and digitisation. Her work has included the development of tools, processes and workflows to aid with curation in herbaria. Her current focus is on large-scale digitisation, including looking at integrating digitisation into curatorial and research processes. Dr. Elspeth Haston is leading a digitisation programme at the Royal Botanical Garden of Edinborough which has included the development of tools, processes and workflows for digitising herbarium specimens and related images and documents. The curation of herbarium specimens actively aids taxonomic and other research. She worked with David Harris, James Richardson, Peter Stevens and Mark Chase to produce the Linear Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (LAPG) II sequence of families as well as the updated version based on APG3. At RBGE, she was responsible for reorganising the herbarium at RBGE to follow the LAPG II family sequence as well as a more systematic arrangement of the non-angiosperm major groups. This was the first large herbarium to move to the APG system. Dr. Elspeth Haston carried out systematic research on the Peltophorum group (Leguminosae) based on molecular and morphological data. She has also undertaken research on floral development in the Gesneriaceae, with particular emphasis on the genera Saintpaulia and Streptocarpus.
Donat Agosti (Plazi)
Donat Agosti is a cyber-biologist with a strong research background and commitment to let nature have a voice. Throughout his career he had the chance to bring the right people together to find solutions for the pressing problems that affect open access to our biodiversity and science more generally. He is fascinated by therapidly growing technological opportunities to build an open knowledge commons.