ESIP Recognizes Outstanding Achievements in Earth Science Data Management

by | Feb 12, 2021

SEVERNA PARK, MD “ Known as the brain-trust of Earth science data professionals, Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) recently elected a new board of directors and recognized outstanding accomplishments in the field of Earth science data management and stewardship at their winter meeting.

More than 360 of the world's leading scientific-data experts attended the virtual meeting from January 26-29, 2021, which focused on Leading Innovation in Earth Science Data Frontiers. The group explored the latest innovations in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to help better understand the health of the planet and assess agricultural production challenges. Attendees also examined collaborative tools to empower more effective cross sector emergency response to crises like wildfires and associated landslides and explored the latest tools for dataset search with experts from Google Research and 

The goal of our work is to bring together experts from academia, the private sector, and government agencies to collaborate and overcome the barriers to making Earth science data available and discoverable. Earth science data is a critical asset in our global infrastructure. Maximizing its use and reuse is essential in our quest to tackle some of the world's greatest challenges, including Climate Change, ESIP Executive Director Susan Shingledecker said.

ESIP celebrated the contributions of the community with the following awards:

The Martha Maiden Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Dr. Hampapuram Rama Ramapriyan. Currently with Science Systems and Applications, Inc. (SSAI), he has spent more than 40 years with the NASA Earth Science Data Information System (ESDIS) project with experience in science data systems development, image processing, remote sensing, parallel processing, and algorithm development. Rama is known for bringing together diverse groups of people to create, solidify, and endorse standards and best practices in Earth science data quality, data stewardship, and preservation. He is a mentor in the field and always finds time to work with junior and senior members of a team.

The Martha Maiden Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes outstanding service to the Earth science information community, honoring individuals who have demonstrated leadership, dedication, and a collaborative spirit in advancing the field of Earth science information.

ESIP's Partner of the Year was awarded to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). JPL exhibits the depth and breadth of partnership valued by ESIP. More than a dozen JPL staff engage actively in the ESIP Community with contributions ranging from meeting participation, chairing committees and clusters, and proposing and leading interactive meeting sessions. Their participation and contributions include those of ESIP Community Fellows and early career staff to top senior employees who have many years of experience. The JPL team brings their challenges to the ESIP community and in turn, contributes to solving the challenges of others. ESIP is a place where JPL staff have found an opportunity to contribute and learn in equal portions. JPL's commitment to and tradition of connecting science, data, and users sits at the very heart of ESIP's mission, vision, and values, which is why this organizational relationship continues to be so strong.

The ESIP Catalyst Award was awarded to rising star Dr. Ziheng Sun. This award honors those who have brought positive change and inspired others to take action. Dr. Ziheng Sun is a research professor at the Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems (CSISS) at George Mason University. Ziheng is known for his work on Geoweaver a web-based system to easily compose and execute full-stack workflows. This work, incubated in the ESIP Lab, won a National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) Innovation Challenge and was recently selected as a NASA ACCESS project.

The ESIP President's Award was given to Rebecca Koskela. Rebecca's thoughtful leadership helped guide ESIP during a change in leadership of the organization and through the financial and other challenges presented by COVID-19. Rebecca is a long-standing member of ESIP and most recently served as treasurer of the board of directors and head of the search committee for ESIP's new executive director. Rebecca is currently executive director of Research Data Alliance US.

During the winter conference, ESIP elected a new board of directors led by President Ken Casey, NOAA and Vice President Denise Hills, Geological Survey of Alabama. Tracey Pilone of Element 84 will serve as finance committee chair, Bill Teng with NASA will serve as governance committee chair, and Mike Daniels with National Center for Atmospheric Research will continue serving as partnership committee chair. At large board members include Nancy Hoebelheinrich, Knowledge Motifs; Cynthia Parr, USDA; and Lesley Wyborn, Australian National University.  

Additionally, five board members completed their terms: Tamara Ledley, Sustaining Science; Sudhir Shrestha, NOAA; Rebecca Koskela, Research Data Alliance; Karl Benedict, Univ. of New Mexico; and Mark Parsons, Univ of Alabama Huntsville. 

With gratitude, I would like to commend the outgoing board members for their dedication and service to ESIP. We are grateful for their contributions to the field of Earth science data management and stewardship, said Shingledecker. We look forward to working with the newly elected board to continue to build on the achievements and the goals of the organization.


About ESIP

Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) is a community for global Earth science data professionals that works to advance the usefulness and impact of data to address pressing global environmental challenges and fuel new discoveries. For more than 20 years, ESIP has worked to support the networking and data dissemination needs of the global Earth science data community by linking the sectors of observation, research, application, education, and use of Earth science data. ESIP facilitates collaboration and builds connections across federal agencies, academia, and the private sector through innovative collaboration methods and infrastructure that provide a scalable, neutral platform to support Earth science research, data, and technical communities. To learn about ESIP, visit and follow @ESIPfed.


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