Marshall Ma Awarded Grant to Provide Open Access Mineral Data

August 6, 2021

Computer Science Assistant Professor Marshall (Xiaogang) Ma has been awarded an $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to transfer the data of Mindat, an online database of mineral species and their worldwide distribution, to an open access format.

Mindat is the most widely used mineral database in the world, receiving over 43 million page views and 377 citations from scientific publications in 2020. In contrast to its significant scientific and social impacts, the infrastructure development and maintenance of Mindat is struggling to match the overwhelming data needs.

The OpenMindat project will develop a fully open access framework for the database, allowing easier access to mineralogical data in labs and classrooms alike. Opening the Mindat data for free academic use will remove barriers and encourage a new generation of research in geosciences and other disciplines. Additionally, this project will use machine learning techniques in conjunction with the OpenMindat dataset, which raises the possibility of finding previously unseen patterns in the mineralogical diversity on the Earth and beyond. The new open access and interoperable Mindat system will better serve both scientific and social needs and make it an active node in the geoscience cyberinfrastructure ecosystem.

This project will include a collaboration with several other U.S. institutions including the Hudson Institution for Mineralogy and the Carnegie Institution for Science. The OpenMindat proposal was submitted and awarded through the Institute of Interdisciplinary Data Sciences.