Biodiversity Software Developed by ’07 Alum Jamie Kass is World Finalist

May 26, 2015

Tim Lucas, 919-613-8084,

DURHAM, N.C.  – “WALLACE,” a biodiversity web application developed by Jamie M. Kass, a 2007 Master of Environmental Management graduate of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, has been selected as one of six worldwide finalists in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility’s (GBIF) inaugural Ebbe Nielsen Challenge.

The Nielsen Challenge was launched this year to inspire scientists, informaticians, data modelers, cartographers and other experts to create innovative applications of open-access biodiversity data.

Kass’ app, “WALLACE,” allows users to download data from the GBIF network and identify geographic areas suitable for species of concern. It harnesses newly developed geographic information system (GIS) tools that help users generate high-quality predictive models and map the results.

Kass, who is now a second-year PhD student in ecology at City College of New York, says the newly developed app – which is named in honor of Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection and the founder of the field of biogeography – has many potential useful applications, including mapping the spread of invasive species and diseases, charting habitat fragmentation and connectivity, and tracking the effects of climate change.

“My interest in this stems directly from the training in GIS I received at the Nicholas School, thanks to Pat Halpin, John Fay and other influential figures,” he says.

Halpin is associate professor of marine geospatial ecology at the Nicholas School. Fay is an instructor in the school’s Geospatial Analysis Program.

A jury of experts from the global bioinformatics community will select the first and second-place winners from the six Nielsen Challenge finalists at the GBIF Governing Board Meeting in Madagascar this October. First place carries a cash prize of more than $30,000. Second place carries a cash prize of more than $7,500. Each of the six finalists also receives a $1,500 award.

You can learn more about “WALLACE” here.