Defining what data science is and what it isn’t “is in itself a bit of an exercise,” said Dr. Justin Calabrese, a quantitative ecologist from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal.

“It means different things to different people,” he said.

At a program tonight at Samuels Public Library, he plans to condense a vast amount of research into small manageable bites for anyone interested in ecology and how data science can have an impact on ecosystems.

The free program runs from 6-7:30 p.m. today at 330 E. Criser Road, Front Royal. Registration is required, and attendees can register up until the program start time.

Calabrese has spoken at the library a couple of other times about his research in animal movement ecology.

Planning to breakdown four pieces of his research, he said he’ll discuss data science as a composite of statistics, machine learning, software development and database engineering — and how they’re changing in ecology.

He’ll highlight developments in ecological data acquisition, data processing, prediction and decision making.

He’ll also speculate about the potential of these technologies in ecology and conservation biology.

Some of this science is new in the last two to three years, he said.

The program, he said, will include “what the cutting edge looks like there.”

Register for the event at or by calling 540-635-3153.

Contact Josette Keelor at