Dr. John Stocker, Chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) board, and Dr. Megan Clark, Chief Executive of CSIRO, visited the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IOZ, CAS) and attended the Official Launch Event of China-Australia Virtual Taxonomic Laboratory on September 8, 2009, in the company of Shi-Zhuan Zhang，Deputy Division Director of the Division of American & Oceanian Affairs of the Bureau of International Cooperation, CAS.
Dr. De-Xing Zhang, Deputy Director of IOZ, Dr. Ge-Xia Qiao, Curator of National Zoological Museum, and Dr. Ai-Ping Liang, Director of CAS Key Laboratory of Zoological Systematics and Evolution, and taxonomic experts of the National Zoological Museum received the CSIRO delegates. Dr. De-Xing Zhang gave a brief introduction about IOZ, and then unveiled the plaque of China-Australia Virtual Taxonomy Laboratory (VTL), together with Dr. John Stocker and Dr. Megan.
Dr. Chao-Dong Zhu and Dr. John La Salle demonstrated current technologies in the VTL. Using web-based communication and collaboration tools, researchers from different laboratories, departments, countries or regions are able to work together online synchronously in taxonomic research. Additionally, it is possible for external advisors to train students or junior scientists from overseas. Taxonomists can examine specimens, even rare type material, via remote microscopy or even select ones they want to borrow for further examination by viewing virtual collection materials.
The Virtual Taxonomic Laboratory (VTL) as a joint research platform between CAS and CSIRO, will promote more close collaboration in taxonomy and biodiversity between the two countries. As a seeding activity, the virtual network is expected to expand beyond the two countries. It will accelerate taxonomic collaboration and productivity via web-based activities. Ultimately, remote cameras will just be part of most taxonomists’ workstations, along with remote access and other tools delivered through the web. This is likely to be a revolution in taxonomic research.