New Head of British Oceanographic Data Centre appointed

Dr Graham Allen

Dr Graham Allen will take up a permanent position as Head of the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) on 4 August. The BODC’s role is to facilitate high quality research outcomes by connecting stakeholders to oceanographic data and the knowledge from this, with consequential economic, environmental and societal impacts.

Graham comes to the NOC with an early career background as a physical oceanographer, having gained his PhD from the University of Wales, Bangor in 1995. In recent years though he has managed diverse teams in the commercial IT business, most recently as General Manager for software product development with a New Zealand-based based company providing software systems to the global retail oil industry.

As Head of BODC, he’ll be responsible for managing its mission to develop coordinate and provide specialist data services for the UK and international marine science communities, facilitating innovative use and reuse of data and ensuring the long term curation of valuable and unique data resources. An important part of this mission is maintenance of the UK’s National Oceanographic Database, working with other NERC Data Centres to ensure seamless access to environmental data, as well as hosting the core team for the UK’s Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN). In addition, BODC has an international role, including being the UK partner in the European SeaDataNet initiative and participation in the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission’s International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange committee. BODC is acknowledged internationally as a leader in its field and, in particular, its continued development of a vocabulary server to enable diverse marine data to be unambiguously interpreted by computers has resulted in a de-facto international standard.

Welcoming the appointment, Director of National Marine Facilities, Geraint West commented “We are delighted to welcome Graham to the NOC.  High quality data is one of the primary outputs of marine science and BODC has a crucial role in both assuring the quality of the data and then enabling access to it. Graham’s experience as an oceanographer will ensure that the former remains a priority, while his extensive IT experience will be important in positioning BODC to meet the challenges of ensuring continued accessibility, especially in the era of ‘Big Data’. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Dr Lesley Rickards for the excellent job she has done leading BODC over the past year.”

Graham commented, “I am excited about returning to oceanography after having spent the last few years in commercial software management. Whether business or environmental, data are expensive to collect and manage so we should always look to maximize its value through re-use. The BODC team have clearly established themselves as world leaders in the management of marine data and I am looking forward to working with them.”

BODC primarily works from NOC’s Liverpool site with some staff also based in Southampton.