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Using PlantingScience Gateway to Empower Next-Gen Researchers

Recent enhancements improve management of invitations to scientists

Published February 21, 2024

By Cynthia Dillon, SDSC Communications

The innovative PlantingScience program facilitates mentoring relationships with real plant scientists and teams of students in middle and high school. However, the program needed an online mentoring pairing system where scientists could be assigned to student groups. Additionally, the system needed to provide space for both the scientists and students to communicate and work toward project goals. So Hubzero at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UC San Diego partnered with PlantingScience to use the Hubzero Content Management System (CMS) to help connect students and scientists.

Through this partnership, the PlantingScience science gateway — a portal with many open and free educational resources to foster curiosity, understanding, literacy and interest in real-world science — has been customized to fit the unique protocol for this community, including advanced processes needed for positive on-boarding experiences for the students and their mentors.

The most recent customizations by the Hubzero team include:

  • Enhanced email communications from PlantingScience to scientists,
  • Improved design to the science gateway’s collaborations and groups to facilitate management of members,
  • Enhanced notifications to group administrators to support decision-making and
  • Added custom reports portal for group invitations to scientists.

For this work, Ka (Jesse) Woo, a full-stack developer with the Hubzero team, worked closely with the PlantingScience team to enhance functionality on the science gateway. For example, Woo enhanced informational pages, email templates and the logical mechanism related to the management of invitations to scientists. Additionally, a new invitation data customized report page was created for administrators to help narrow and segment data to find gaps.

Design adjustments were also made to the “Group” members gallery, where an “All” members tab was created to meet the needs of managers, where it showed active members plus pending invites. Each member card was enhanced with the addition of the assigned project team, so administrators can easily scan the member list to see who lacked a project link. The existing “Invitees” tab cards were improved to help managers efficiently identify how many pending invitations to scientists may need to be replaced with new invitees.

Impact to the PlantingScience Community

As a result of the enhancements to PlantingScience, the invitational process for scientists has become more streamlined and less cumbersome for the invited scientists and managers of these spaces. Additionally, the managers of PlantingScience are able to more effectively send email and alert notifications to specific programs. Group pages were given a facelift to make information more accessible, instinctive and engaging. Other changes brought clarity to the Group member gallery and helped administrators manage scientist volunteers of project teams.

“Overall, I’m pleased with the work that I’ve been able to do for PlantingScience, knowing how my development efforts have helped make administration of the site much more efficient and pleasant,” said Woo. “I’m thankful that I had a chance to work with PlantingScience and be part of this development team that will foster those crucial scientists-student collaborations.”

PlantingScience has created a community and learning place that supports teachers and their students, challenging them to become scientific thinkers and a part of practical science. With nationally recognized societies and collaborators' support, teachers prepare students to innovate solutions through scientific inquiry, reasoning and critical thinking as they take on personalized and challenging research projects.

The Hubzero team provides managed hosting and software development services to PlantingScience. It also develops targeted solutions including websites, portals and scientific software for stakeholders in different sectors including academia, non-profits, government and industry. For more information please contact: