All in the Family

By many measures, Stanford is a big place. Two typical measures: the historic campus (6th largest in the US) stretches across 8,180 acres, and is home to over 31,000 students, faculty, and staff this academic year. A random measure: for the JSTOR database subscription provided by the Libraries, Stanford's institution classification level is “very large."

But some days, Stanford feels like a small, close-knit town where degrees of separation between community members rarely exceed two or three.

For instance, recently I received an email from Karen Casciotti, an eight-time SDR depositor, with a request for a DOI for her most recent deposit to the Marine Biogeochemistry Data collection she established in 2013.

In addition to serving as Associate Professor of Earth System Science and Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Karen is the spouse of Peter Mangiafico, my colleague in the Libraries and a software engineer for the Stanford Digital Repository. Karen routinely uses the software that her husband builds and maintains! How sweet is that?

To celebrate this sense of close community at Stanford, this installment of the SDR Deposit of the Month series features Karen’s latest data and code deposit, now archived and accessible to other researchers via the repository.

I asked Karen to explain briefly about the work represented in this deposit and why it is important. She replied, "The research ... is geared towards using ocean observations [collected using devices like the one pictured above] to infer the rates of nitrogen cycle processes in the ocean. We imbed equations that parameterize the nitrogen transformations into an ocean circulation model and then ask the model what rate of each process would be needed to reproduce the observations. My former postdoc, Taylor Martin is the lead author on two papers related to this research; one is now published in the open access journal Biogeosciences, and the other is in review at Global Biogeochemical Cycles.”

After a bit of further reading on the subject on my own, I learned that nitrogen cycling in the ocean is a highly complicated process, critical to biological systems, and one that scientists continue to study closely as climate change impacts our oceans and the life they support, such as the small organisms that play a fundamental role in nitrogen processing.

"The SDR is an invaluable resource for us to make available data, metadata, and code associated with our projects so that other researchers can compare their data to ours, modify and rerun our model code to ask new questions about the way the ocean works," says Karen. Keep asking the questions, Karen! The SDR team, including Peter, will keep supporting your efforts.

This data story was written by Hannah Frost.

Find out more about the data featured in this story.