Press Release: EOL names Cynthia Sims Parr as Chief Scientist

Press Release: Encyclopedia of Life names Cynthia Sims Parr as Chief Scientist

Avian behaviorist and bioinformatics specialist to accelerate the Encyclopedia of Life’s progress in supporting research communities

Washington, D.C., February 20, 2013 – The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) today announces that Dr. Cynthia Sims Parr has been named as EOL’s Chief Scientist in support of its growing focus on acquiring data to support scientific research across the Tree of Life.

“EOL is stepping up our ability to provide authoritative data for all of our audiences, which means we have to get better at critically evaluating sources of data as well as identifying and filling knowledge gaps,” said Dr. Erick Mata, EOL Executive Director. “EOL aims to support many scientific activities with this data, including data gathering, exploration and bibliographic research, and it wants to ensure the results of this work are shared with the broadest audiences possible. Dr. Parr understands this challenge and is the ideal person to lead EOL’s engagement with the communities who can help us achieve these goals.”

“I want to help EOL serve as a bridge between scientific, enthusiast and educational communities, because I believe the needs and potential contributions of these communities truly overlap,” said Dr. Parr. “EOL can support online interaction among individuals from these communities and can also promote free exchange and re-use of data, ideas, and results. I’m delighted to take on the responsibilities of EOL’s Chief Scientist, and I look forward to working with many different research communities to identify ways in which we can collaborate.”

As Chief Scientist, Parr will serve as the principal advisor to Encyclopedia of Life on life sciences research issues and as lead contact with the international science community. Dr. Parr will lead efforts to increase EOL's collaborations with research groups seeking to use EOL as an ingredient for detailed analytical work. She will also work to ensure EOL’s software infrastructure rigorously and effectively supports scientific research.

In addition to her Chief Scientist responsibilities Dr. Parr will continue serving as the Director of the EOL Species Pages Group, which is responsible for increasing the scope, variety and depth of trusted content in the EOL. Today EOL has aggregated content on over a million species including nearly 1.8 million photographs sourced from 240 content providers.

Dr. Parr earned a B.S from Cornell University and a PhD in biology from the University of Michigan. Her biological interests include bioacoustics and the evolution of social behavior in birds, community ecology, and systematics. Following postdoctoral work at Seoul National University, she began focused work in biodiversity informatics, first as the content development director for the Animal Diversity Web and later as research staff at the Human/Computer Interaction Laboratory (University of Maryland) and eBiquity Lab (University of Maryland BaltimoreCounty). She has conducted research on data sharing in ecology and systematics, educational technology, tree and graph visualizations for biodiversity information, and semantic web technologies. Her current interests include social practices in biological data sharing and the integration and dissemination of trait data.


About the Encyclopedia of Life: The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) operates as an ongoing collaboration among its international partners with the mission to raise awareness and understanding of living nature. With the support of a growing global network of content partners, curators and participants, EOL works to provide free, open, multilingual, digital access to trusted information on all known species. Please visit for more information.


Contact: Mr. Robert Corrigan, +1-202-633-8730;