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Telling VIVO Stories at Colorado University Boulder with Liz Tomich

“Telling VIVO Stories” is a community-led initiative aimed at introducing project leaders and their ideas to one another while providing VIVO implementation details for the VIVO community and beyond. The following interview includes personal observations that may not represent the opinions and views of Colorado University Boulder or the VIVO Project.

Julia Trimmer, Duke University, talked with the Liz Tomich at Colorado University Boulder to learn about their VIVO story.

From research interests to international connections to ORCID IDs–the University of Colorado Boulder never stops improving their VIVO instance. Just look at their About page at Since they rolled out VIVO back in April 2011, they’ve been continually releasing features and data to their users, and they plan to keep going; new enhancements are listed publicly.

To get CU-Boulder’s VIVO story, I asked Liz Tomich, Director of the Faculty Information System team, how she works with VIVO. Liz guides the development team and sets their priorities. “I represent the business perspective, the perspective of the faculty and the provost; I’m the intermediary between the software engineers and the faculty.” Liz also communicates with the faculty and explains what the team is doing with VIVO. Because the data in VIVO is public, Liz explains that it’s important to make sure that their data sources are good -- the data are complete and represent the faculty well.

How did CU-Boulder decide to adopt VIVO? A few years ago, people at CU-Boulder started wondering if they could access the research interests in their existing faculty information system. Their communications group began working on a search tool to enable users to find the research interests data that Liz’s group maintained, but this development process became complicated. Meanwhile, Liz and Alex Viggio, who’s now a developer at Symplectic, had heard about VIVO and moved forward quickly. Alex and Liz found VIVO easy to implement, particularly with the faculty and research interests data that they already had. They liked that VIVO was an open source! tool, and they saw its potential for sharing and linking to other data sets.

The CU-Boulder team started small and has gradually added a lot of data and functionality to their VIVO instance, a successful strategy that’s been adopted at other institutions (see what they’ve done for yourself at

“We’re a small team but are lucky to have people who are enthusiastic about linked data,” explains Liz, and they appreciate being part of a community that “wants to make things happen.” In and around the Boulder area, there are a lot of organizations that want to work together in a number of projects and directions. Liz describes their team’s mission as “serving the faculty member whether that person is on campus, working in a federal lab like NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) or in the field on the other side of the world” and sharing their VIVO data.

For more background on the CU-Boulder VIVO, read their About page ( If you get a chance to meet the CU-Boulder team, including Liz, Don Elsborg, Nate Prewitt and Vance Howard, be sure to ask them about all the cool things they’re doing with VIVO; you’ll be inspired and you might learn something new.

Thanks so much for participating in VIVO Stories! This story is an ad hoc VIVO community activity and anyone can participate by interviewing someone who’s working with VIVO and submitting a story. Go to for instructions, and send the finished copy to Julia Trimmer ( and Carol Minton-Morris (