Falk Schuetzenmeister

BIDS Alum - Data Science Fellow

Real name: 
Falk Schuetzenmeister

Dr. Falk Schuetzenmeister was previously a Web Application Developer at Berkeley's Geospatial Innovation Facility and a BIDS Data Science Fellow. He is currently a Geospatial Software Engineer at the Nature Conservancy.

He earned his doctorate in Sociology from the University of Technology, in Dresden, Germany. His PhD work tackled questions about the impact of large-scale instrumentation and big data on research and science organizations in the field of climate change research. He switched to applied data science at the California Invasive Plant Council in 2010. He and his colleagues created the most comprehensive dataset about invasive plants in California to date by developing a process in which field data, expert knowledge, and modeling results were iteratively used. He joined the Geospatial Innovation Facility at UC Berkeley in 2012, where he is the lead developer of the Berkeley Ecoinformatics Engine serving heterogeneous ecological data from Berkeley museums and field stations. In his spare time, he builds electronic circuits and write code for microprocessors that do things in the “real world” in addition to bicycle touring.

At BIDS, Falk studied restful APIs as a mechanism to distribute data to very heterogeneous audiences (e.g. scientists, professionals, the general public, and data journalists). The different lifecycles of data (long term) and published websites (relatively short term) make the “big web page” a rather problematic device for data processing, delivery, and sharing. Monolithic web pages are usually burdened with a mix of contradicting expectations ranging from technical requirements of data documentation to branding and public relations. Falk believes that the separation of data (RESTful API) and lean applications solve some of the conundrums of web development. This combination allows for the purpose-oriented and focused presentation of data in different contexts (e.g., data source for research versus an interactive graphic for the public). He used the Berkeley Ecoinformatics Engine as an example to make data science instruments available through open APIs.