In the series “MEANING MATTERS: Practical Applications of Semantic Technology,” Bill Kasdorf and Access Innovations discuss an interesting topic within the scientific community. Dr. Bob Allkin, scientist at The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and is responsible for their Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS), found immense difficulty in the consolidation and disambiguation of both medical and colloquial expressions of plant names. Kew is a major custodian of the world’s botanical nomenclature.
Bob’s talk is entitled “WHAT’S IN A NAME? How Kew helps drug regulators disambiguate the messy welter of medicinal plant names to shore up regulation and save lives”. It’s really eye-opening to realize how complicated and imprecise names can get, with multiple scientific, pharmaceutical and popular names for the same thing or with one name used for completely different things.
This has real-world consequences. For example, the EU mistakenly banned a useful plant we use every day when intending to ban a poisonous one because of a naming problem. How Kew is using semantic and taxonomic tools and technologies to bring order to this complexity (I almost said chaos) is really fascinating. They’re also helping to disambiguate nomenclature and provide links to authoritative information for botanical terms for use in journal articles, among other things.
Margie Hlava, President of Access Innovations and a botanist by training, will be on hand to answer questions about the technologies implemented behind the scenes.
You can find the entirety of the webinar in the links below. This webinar aired noon Eastern time on Wednesday, August 26th