A Collaborative Australian Characterisation Informatics Strategy, Impact and Current Work

Wojtek James Goscinski1David Abramson2, Jason Andrade3, Caroline Fuery4, Graham Galloway5, Nick Hauser6, Andrew Janke7, Jafar Lie8, Andrew Mehnert9, Ryan Sullivan10, Veah Tapat11, Roger Wepf12, Lance Wilson13

1 MASSIVE and Monash University, Clayton, Australia, wojtek.goscinski@monash.edu

2 University of Queensland, St Lucia, david.abramson@uq.edu.au

3 University of Wollongong, Wollongong, jason@uow.edu.au

4 Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility and University of Sydney, Sydney,caroline.fuery@sydney.edu.au

5 National Imaging Facility and University of Queensland, St Lucia, 8 National Imaging Facility and University of

Queensland, St Lucia, v.tapat@uq.edu.au

6 ANSTO, Lucas Heights, nha@ansto.gov.au

7 National Imaging Facility and University of Queensland, St Lucia, andrew.janke@uq.edu.au

8 MASSIVE and Monash University, Clayton, Australia, jafar.lie@monash.edu

9 Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, AMMRF, NIF, University of Western Australia, Perth,andrew.mehnert@uwa.edu.au

10 University of Sydney, Sydney, ryan.sullivan@sydney.edu.au

11 National Imaging Facility and University of Queensland, St Lucia, v.tapat@uq.edu.au

12 University of Queensland, St Lucia, r.wepf@uq.edu.au

13 MASSIVE and Monash University, Clayton, Australia, lance.wilson@monash.edu



Australian characterisation infrastructure encompasses a wide selection of instruments and capabilities that are united by the need to  address  common informatics challenges. The multi-modal and distributed nature of the research, science  and  supporting  instruments  is  a challenge that has united the Australian characterisation community to successfully coordinate key informatics initiatives nationally.

Characterisation refers to the general process of probing and measuring the structures and properties of materials at the micro, nano and atomic scales. It is essential across natural, agricultural, physical, life and biomedical sciences and engineering. Characterisation  facilities, as outlined in the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap, provide researchers  in  Australian  universities,  research  centres,  and  industries with critical infrastructure, including both instrumentation and expertise, to enable quality research outcomes in an efficient and cost-effective manner. These facilities  are  a  key  capability  that  underpin  flagship  Australian  research  collaborations including ARC Centres of Excellence which are both significant users and partners in the development of future characterisation techniques and applications. The Australian Characterisation community and our partners bring together thousands of researchers who are driving the future of Australian imaging and innovation.

Characterisation has become a capability where informatics infrastructure, expertise and best practice is essential to turning data into  new  discoveries. As a collective, the Australian Characterisation community shares a number of significant informatics challenges, and are are working together to plan and implement strategies to overcome these challenges.


This presentation will be a high level outline of the Australian characterisation informatics landscape, and will include:

  • An overview of A Collaborative Characterisation Informatics Strategy [1], a common outline of the challenges and requirements across major characterisation facilities. This document was produced by a writing group with representatives from Monash University, AMMRF, ANSTO and NIF, based on the outcomes of a series of open Characterisation  Informatics  workshops. It is intended to guide a characterisation informatics strategy and investment.


Figure 1: The Australian characterisation community provides a wide range of techniques that are applied across a variety of scientific domains. Common across these are a set of shared informatics challenges.

  • Outcomes of the Characterisation Informatics program of work, funded under NCRIS ANDS, NeCTAR and RDS, including: an overview of  Characterisation Virtual Laboratory (CVL) usage, research impact and economic impact  [2]; and  reusable  components of this infrastructure  and how they have been applied to capture, analyse, visualise  and  publish data. CVL has supported over 2,000 researchers, and has worked with or is working with 26 facilities to integrate over 100 instruments with a total value of around $250 million.
  • Current work under the Characterisation Data Enhanced Virtual Laboratory, which is structured to make a significant contribution toward addressing the three major challenges identified in A Collaborative Australian Characterisation Informatics Strategy, and includes:

○    A National Characterisation Data Capability: A broad program of work that has wide scale impact for Australian characterisation users. This includes infrastructure (data management and data analysis), expertise and FAIR. In particular, it will develop a model for CVL Desktop federation & deployability across  3+ nodes.  This  will  provide a stable, standardized and tuned data processing environment across key Australian data generating hubs.

○    Domain-focused Characterisation Data Projects: Focus areas that will uplift specific data-driven areas of need, will demonstrate the application of the broader DeVL in an exemplar field, and will apply existing infrastructure and best practise.


  1. A Collaborative Characterisation Informatics Strategy, https://goo.gl/nxUspi
  2. K  Sweeny,   M  Fridman,   B  Rasmussen,  Estimating  the  value  and  impact  of  Nectar  Virtual  Laboratories,https://nectar.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Estimating-the-value-and-impact-of-Nectar-Virtual-Laboratories-2017.pdf


Dr Wojtek James Goscinski is the coordinator of MASSIVE, a national high performance computing facility for data science, and Associate Director at the Monash eResearch Centre a role in which he leads teams to develop and implement digital strategies to nurture and underpin next-generation research. He holds a PhD in Computer Science, a Bachelor of Design (Architecture), and a Bachelor of Computer Science.

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