OpenWetWare:Steering committee/NSF BDI Grant/Letter of support

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OpenWetWare Steering Committee

July 5, 2006

Drew Endy
Biological Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
31 Ames St, Room 68-580
Cambridge, MIT 02139

Subject: 2006 National Science Foundation Biological Databases and Informatics proposal on OpenWetWare

Dear Drew,

We, the OpenWetWare Steering Committee, are writing to express our strong ongoing commitment to the development of OpenWetWare: a wiki to promote sharing of information, wisdom and know-how among researchers in biological science and engineering. As you know, the OpenWetWare Steering Committee was formed in January 2006 to be a formal group that oversees the development of the OpenWetWare site and community. Since the Steering Committee is composed of volunteers from the user community, it represents a group of people who believe in OpenWetWare’s mission to freely disseminate biological information and are committed to its success. To date, members of the Steering Committee have

  1. Applied, received and administered a grant from the iCampus Outreach Initiative.
  2. Contracted a professional graphic designer to design an OpenWetWare logo, poster and site layout.
  3. Hired and supervised an undergraduate research assistant to develop a user management software system to streamline creation of new user accounts.
  4. Hired and supervised an undergraduate research assistant to design an introductory tutorial for new OpenWetWare users and develop the OpenWetWare community portal as a central meeting point for active OpenWetWare users.
  5. Forged collaborations with MIT OpenCourseWare to explore the use of wiki’s in education and to transfer educational content on OpenWetWare to MIT OpenCourseWare.
  6. Started a Spanish version of the Synthetic Biology site at to reach the Spanish-speaking research community around the world.
  7. Encouraged the overall development of OpenWetWare as a resource for researchers and growth of the OpenWetWare community.

Our previous track record of success suggests that we are well prepared to continue oversight of OpenWetWare and develop a prioritized task list for a small team of full time personnel. A key problem that we currently face is that many of the software development tools that we wish to include are beyond the scope of what individual researchers can do in their spare time. Having dedicated web developers that are working to augment OpenWetWare is critical to enhancing its usefulness to the research community. We strongly feel that the OpenWetWare steering committee, whose members use the site on a daily basis, are in the best position to identify key areas of improvement for the site and prioritize those areas for the software development team.

As OpenWetWare grows, the steering committee will move from a self-selected volunteer team, to one in which members are elected by the general OpenWetWare user population. Committee meetings will continue to be held on a regular basis by teleconference to set and assess progress on goals relating to site development. By providing dedicated resources for software development and project support, the NSF BDI grant will also have the added benefit of freeing Steering Committee members to spend more of their time on content generation, curation and organization rather than on administrative and technical details of site maintenance.


  • RS 17:24, 5 July 2006 (EDT)

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OpenWetWare Steering Committee