Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BHNRC) » Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center » Methods and Application of Food Composition Laboratory » Research » Research Project #435223

Research Project: Vocabulary, Thesaurus and Ontology Development for USDA FoodData Central

Location: Methods and Application of Food Composition Laboratory

Project Number: 8040-52000-068-026-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2018
End Date: Aug 30, 2023

Lack of standardized, connected ontologies spanning domains and disciplines of the food system impedes integration and analyses of diverse data. The long-term goal is to develop connected ontologies to cover the broad spectrum of agricultural (including environmental), nutritional and public health data with the establishment of a USDA Food Knowledge System. The present objective will be to “harmonize” the vocabulary/thesauri presently in existence for use with the newly designed USDA FoodData Central.

Information technology (IT) and data scientist teams at the University of British Columbia (UBC) will work with similar teams at the University of California Davis to provide a gap analysis report on USDA domains of interest for coverage of ontologies and collected datasets. An environmental scan to identify areas of reuse and alignment of existing vocabularies and thesauri will be conducted as well as selected mapping of existing USDA relational databases with available ontological resources. The intent will be to compare vocabulary coverage against existing ontologies and SKOS vocabularies (including AGROVOC and GACS) and identify need for new ontologies or ontology extensions (subdomain vocabulary). Coverage for current and future top-down (study design, research objective) and bottom-up (experimental metadata, measurables, units) terminology needs will also be determined. Food domain-specific ontology development will include agricultural field study factor terminology, food phenotypes (physical, molecular, chemical composition, biological components and activities), food production/transformation processes, and FoodON extension to support USDA databases. The interest is to reuse components of existing ontologies, authoritative vocabularies and official classification systems (FoodOn based on Langual, ENVO, UBERON, PO, CROP, GACS, Gene Ontology, OBO Foundry, etc.).