Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Scott Federhen

ImagesAwoke this morning to the sad news (via Scott Miller) that Scott Federhen of the NCBI had died. Anyone using the NCBI taxonomy is a beneficiary of Scott's work on bring together taxonomy and genomic data.

Scott contributed both directly and indirectly to this blog. I reported on some of his work linking taxa in NCBI to sequences from type material (NCBI taxonomy database now shows type material), Scott commented on "dark taxa" and DNA barcoding (e.g., Dark taxa even darker: NCBI pulls (some) DNA barcodes from GenBank (updated)), and was an author on a guest post on "Putting GenBank Data on the Map" (in response to He was also very helpful when I wanted to make links between the NCBI taxonomy and Wikipedia in my iPhylo Linkout project (see

I didn't know Scott well, but always enjoyed chatting to him at meetings (most recently the 6th International Barcode of Life Conference at Guelph). He wasn't shy about putting forth his views, or sharing his enthusiasm for ideas. Indeed, last time we met he was handing out paper copies of his preprint "Replication is Recursion; or, Lambda: the Biological Imperative" (available on bioRχiv He then followed up by sending me a t-shirt with the "replication is recursion" logo printed on one side and some penguins on the other (if I remember correctly this was designed by a member of his family). I delight in baffling students by wearing it sometimes when I lecture.

A number of people in the bioinformatics and biodiversity informatics communities are in shock this morning, this is obviously as nothing compared to what his family must be going through.