Alex Speer Candidate Statement 2021

From Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)

Back to 2021 Nominations and Ballot

J. Alex Speer, Retired, Candidate for At-Large Board Member

J. Alex Speer, (BS 1970, Franklin and Marshall College, MS 1973 and PhD 1976, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University). Previous positions: Manager of Research and Development Electro-Tec Corporation, Blacksburg, VA; Asst. Prof. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC; and Executive Director of the Mineralogical Society of America (MSA), Chantilly, VA (1995-2020, now retired).

I served on the Organizing Committee and then Board of Directors of GeoScienceWorld (2002-2008); SecretaryTreasurer of Geological Society of America’s (GSA) Mineralogy, Geochemistry, Petrology, and Volcanology (MGPV) Division (2009-present); and was MSA’s representative to GSA, AGI, and EarthCube. I am an MSA Fellow, the 2015 MSA Distinguished Public Service Medalist, and a member of GSA, American Geophysical Union (AGU), and the Geological Society of Washington (GSW). My research interests have included mineralogy, igneous and metamorphic petrology, radon hazards, lowtemperature geothermal energy resources, electrocrystallization, and tribology. Geologic areas of interest included the Nain anorthosite complex, Labrador and the 300 Ma granites of the southeastern United States.

I participated in EarthCube starting in 2014 and as it evolved over time, though had little to contribute at the end. I have no prior/current ESIP involvement. The organizations I am affiliated with do not fit into the ESIP types, though GSA’s Geoinformatics & Data Science Division did run a “Virtual Data Help Desk” at the recent annual meeting, and MSA is comparable to organizations within the Coalition on Publishing Data (COPDESS) Collaboration. These hardly sound like qualifications for election. So why am I interested in running as a member at large on the ESIP Board? It has been said that only about 20% of published papers have their supporting data in discoverable and accessible repositories. I suspect that a number of the remaining 80% are not associated with the usual suspects of repositories, publishers, funders, and others focused on data stewardship. I am interested to know what might be the best way to bring in those 80%, as well as those who might benefit from access to the data that they might have.

The challenges I have seen thus far in application of FAIR schemes are the bewildering array of alphabet soup of organizations involved, the often high hurdles of format requirements, inability of all publishers to afford the workflow to manage and track data and software references through the publication pipeline, the focus on larger or readily come-to-mind partners, and authors not trusting that their work will be acknowledged in a way that benefits them. There are also data repositories not associated with published papers, do not fit the ESIP mold, and have their own formats. For example, the largest, most used mineral database (5,638 minerals in 1,330,000 occurrences and 1,079,393 illustrations) has 33,000 registered users (from 216 different countries), 4,000 regular contributors (from 105 different countries), and a management team consisting of about 50 experts.