About Me

My name is Hilmar Lapp. My Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) is 0000-0001-9107-0714.

I care about enabling more and better science, in particular for the long tail of science. My research interests are in open, reusable and interoperable software and data, in particular biological data recorded in the form of natural language descriptions. I have a dual background in biology (major) and computer science (minor). My experience developing various informatics tools and resources extends over more than two decades and includes commercial applications, real-time scientific data acquisition software, bioinformatics data integration systems, data exchange standards, and ontologies.

The best and typically up-to-date source for scholarly products and what I am currently up to scientifically is my ORCID profile. (Note that I have stopped using and maintaining my Mendeley profile since Mendeley was acquired by Elsevier.) Many public talks I have given are on my public Slideshare collection. For citation metrics of my publications see my Google Scholar profile, and for a more varied consideration of how my work is picked up by others visit my ImpactStory profile.

Open source, data & science

I believe that openly sharing and reusing all scholarly inputs and outputs is key to accelerating the progress and broader impact of science, and that the scholarly communication process works best if conducted as openly as possible. I aspire to practice and promote these principles whenever I can, including developing code in the open, archiving data in public repositories, publishing in open-access journals, and signing my peer reviews.

I have been involved with the Open Bioinformatics Foundation (OBF) community in various roles since 1999, first as a BioPerl developer and then core developer, and as a member of the OBF Board of Directors since the OBF's founding in 2001. Since December 2011 I serve as OBF's President. I have also been for many years a member of the organizing committee for the Bioinformatics Open Source Conference (BOSC), OBF's flagship community event and my favorite conference of the year.

Inspired by the success of BOSC, I started the Informatics for Evolution, Phylogenetics, and Biodiversity Conference (iEvoBio) in 2010, and served as its chair in 2012.


I am the currently the Director of Informatics for Duke University's Center for Genomic and Computational Biology (GCB). In this role I run the Center's informatics support program and am responsible for the care and feeding of its high-performance computing infrastructure. Before joining GCB, I was the Assistant Director for Informatics at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), where I was involved with and helped initiate many of NESCent's cyberinfrastructure initiatives aimed at grass-roots community capacity buildimg in informatics, including the hackathon program and Google Summer of Code™ (GSoC) participation.

My research program revolves around using knowledge representation techniques and machine reasoning to make data recorded as natural language descriptions fully computable. I am PI of the NSF-funded project on creating a model and standard for phyloreferencing, and I am co-PI of the (also NSF-funded) Phenoscape project on ontological annotation of evolutionary phenotype observations. Until 2014 I was part of the team founding the Dryad digital data repository for data supporting scientific publications.

I am one of the co-founders of Data Carpentry, and have served on its Board of Directors since its inception. I am also one of the co-founders of the Reproducible Science Curriculum, which has since been adopted by Data Carpentry. Both initiatives were incubated at NESCent.

Before joining NESCent, I worked for almost 10 years in functional genome informatics in the biopharmaceutical industry sector, where among other things I built SymAtlas, one of the first decidedly gene-centric database integrating genome annotation databases with gene function data.


This is my personal website. Opinions expressed here are solely mine, or (for blog posts) those of the author, not of my employer or funding agency.