Cynthia Parr Candidate Statement 2021

From Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)

Back to 2021 Nominations and Ballot

Cynthia Parr, Acting Assistant Chief Data Officer at USDA Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area, Candidate for At-Large Board Member

Bio: Dr. Cynthia Parr is the acting Assistant Chief Data Officer for the USDA Research, Education, and Economics (REE) Mission Area. In this role she has established the mission area’s first data governance framework and data strategy in alignment with the USDA enterprise data strategy. She ensures that REE’s data and analytics initiatives serve the Foundations of Evidence-based Policy-making Act and further the REE research mission. At the National Agricultural Library, Dr. Parr focuses on strategic planning and policy for open data, public access, and big data initiatives. She currently or previously managed a portfolio of services and platforms including the Ag Data Commons, USDA’s research data catalog and repository, and data management plan policy, guidance, and review services. She continues to build NAL, ARS, and REE advanced data analytics capacity. Prior to joining USDA, Dr. Parr served as the Chief Scientist and Director of Species Pages of the Encyclopedia of Life at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.

Dr. Parr received a BA from Cornell University and an MS and PhD in Biology from the University of Michigan. She has authored over 60 scholarly articles and 30 software resources and datasets on topics ranging from data standards and semantics to visualization and collaboration systems to evolutionary ecology.

Statement of Interest

ESIP Partner Organization Affiliation: USDA National Agricultural Library

Leadership positions previously held (ESIP and other): Co-chair of Research Data Alliance Interest Group for Agricultural Data (current), Chair of Taxonomic Database Standards Working Group, Co-chair of USDA Data Stewardship Standing Committee (current), Chair of USDA Open Data Community of Practice (former)

Prior/current ESIP involvement: Sustainable Data Management, Agriculture and Climate Cluster

Why I participate in ESIP: ESIP is a community rich in ideas, networking, and the opportunity to innovate. I can bring back to my organization the latest thinking and best practice from many of the federal agencies, universities, and NGOs with which we need to align and coordinate. In this community one can try out a new idea and get expert feedback and assistance. ESIP provides an excellent framework for regularly connecting with others who are facing similar challenges and opportunities, and it provides scaffolding to help move ideas along towards innovation. Notice that I've mentioned the word "community" a lot -- that's because the people of ESIP are the main reason I participate. Through ESIP I now have a professional network that I can call on and that can call on me whenever there is a question or need, be it personal or collective.

What I feel I can bring to the position: The US Department of Agriculture, and in particular the National Agricultural Library, faces all the same data management and analytics challenges as the rest of ESIP. Moreover, agriculture, nutrition, and forestry provide case studies that almost always require multidisciplinary data and approaches. And, our work touches everyone. I bring those stakeholders and the specific applications and opportunities to the ESIP conversation. I also bring my experience of data leadership in other organizations related to the work of ESIP. My interests and experience are broad, but always driven by a desire to increase our capacity to use data in service of society -- through sustainable or cutting-edge infrastructure, data standards, inclusive skill-building, and changing the culture of research organizations. As an at-large member I can promote all of these. While I have only been participating in ESIP for the last six years, I see huge potential to deepen the relationships we are building with each other and to be even more effective as a community. Data and analytics are a huge priority, particularly for the federal government, and I want to help ESIP harness our collective power to shape policy and implementation going forward.