eResearch 2024 hit the spot for delegates

This year's conference, eResearch NZ 2024 | eRangahau Aotearoa, made a real impact for our community, bringing them together to network and share the latest innovations, successes and challenges.

The conference ran from 7-9 February in Wellington, attracting over 150 delegates working to make a difference to our world.

REANNZ CEO Amber McEwen says she was thrilled with the turn-out and the feedback from attendees: “The response from attendees was overwhelmingly positive. They told us how much they appreciated the content, international speakers and the support from our strategic partners. We are really looking forward to the next event in 2025.”

eResearch NZ, a collaborative initiative organised by REANNZ, NeSI and Genomics Aotearoa, is the leading conference for the eResearch community in Aotearoa, New Zealand. It was REANNZ’s turn to host the event, which this year had the strategic theme of He Moana Pukepuke e Ekengia e te Waka | Navigating an evolving eResearch landscape. 

Here are some of our highlights:

  • Rod Wilson, Chief Technologist, External Research Networks, discussed the new era of super-computers. Use your influence strategically, he said: “Your community of researchers have a tremendous amount of power and clout. You have to create people gravitational pull…for cool kids to want to come.”

  • CEO Amber McEwen opened the eResearch conference with a call to the sector to keeping working together, connecting and collaborating: “New Zealand is a small economy, working hard to create impact nationally and globally.  To be successful we can’t work alone, we must collaborate. I truly believe that bringing people together to collaborate is key to the continued success and growth of our sector.”

  • Research and Innovation Minister Judith Collins, echoed this sentiment in her video address to attendees: “We’re a small, advanced nation and we need to grow our economy. We need people like yourselves involved in eResearch to think about how we grow our economy. This government is putting science and innovation at the top where it needs to be.”

  • Carole Goble, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Manchester, talked about how “health data is highly sensitive and personal and confidential” and “we need code that touches the data, not eyes that touch the data.”

  • Māori technology ethicist Dr Karaitiana Taiuru (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Toa) told us that “Māori data is a collective property right rather than an individual property right,” and “We need to be prepared that, at some stage in the future, legal personhood might be given to Māori data.”

  • ARDC’s CEO Rosie Hicks shared her thoughts on research data commons: “We’re building world-leading environmental and climate digital infrastructure” using fair and care principles, but “we can’t be everything to everyone; we need to think about how we meet the needs of the greatest number of researchers with finite resources.”

  • Jan Sheppard, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at ESR, gave an eye-opening and insightful keynote about how we need to be ahead of the game by creating new futures with data. She covered new diseases, climate change and access to water – which are three major challenges for our future.

  • Ian Foster, Director, the Data Science and Learning Division at Argonne National Laboratory discussed his team’s research on the use of Large Language Models (LLMs) as tools for processing and synthesizing scientific literature, painting a vision for a potential future where researchers work with LLM-powered intelligent agents to accelerate scientific discovery.

Feedback from attendees confirmed the conference is an excellent opportunity for our researchers and academics to network and learn from experts in the field, something that is strengthening the ever-growing eResearch New Zealand community.

We are very grateful to everyone who attended this event. And we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful sponsors: One New Zealand, Ciena, Catalyst Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Digital Science, CDC, Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC), Dell Technologies, Sempre Technologies, Xenon, T4 Group and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

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