Douglas Rao Candidate Statement

From Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)

Candidate for Vice President

Douglas Rao

I would be honored to be elected to continue serving as the ESIP Vice President. I'm a research scientist with North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies (NCICS) and affiliated with NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). I received my Ph.D. in geographical sciences from the University of Maryland, College Park. My research focuses on leveraging geoscience data, statistical modeling, and other emerging technology to monitor climate change and its impacts. I currently work to support the development of the emerging NOAA Center for Artificial Intelligence. Additionally, I am member of the Scientific Steering Committee for the Analysis, Integration, and Modeling of the Earth System, a global research project of Future Earth.

My journey with ESIP started as a Community Fellow for the machine learning cluster between 2018-2020 during the last year of my PhD at the University of Maryland and the first year of my postdoc at NCICS. I never imagined the fellowship would have such an impact on my career trajectory. After joining ESIP, I discovered the world of data management and open science, which was not mentioned during my graduate school time. In 2020, I was the recipient of the ESIP Catalyst Award as I was wrapping up my fellowship with ESIP. Since then, I am involved in various ESIP clusters including co-chairing the Data Readiness Cluster and the newly established Wildfires Cluster.

As an early-career researcher, I am passionate about bringing early-career perspectives into the discussion. During my fellowship with ESIP, a few of the community fellows decided to develop a roadmap to improve data management training for graduate students after we all agreed that we and our peers would have benefited from such training. Currently, I am one of the co-lead for the CMIP early-career researcher task team that has more than 150 members. The task team is working closely with the CMIP community on topics such as data access, capacity building, and model benchmarking to maximize the value of international coordinated model development.

To me, ESIP is a welcoming and enthusiastic community that strives to bring innovation and foster collaboration in geoscience and informatics. These collaborations and innovations are often driven by specific needs or issues related to Earth information. My participation in ESIP is motivated and sustained by learning from the community and contributing to the shared progress that supports the entire Earth information community beyond a single organization or agency. As ESIP Vice President, I will continue to work with ESIP staff and other volunteer leaders to further strengthen ESIP as a community and an environment that can support robust relationships and collaborations to make Earth science information accessible and actionable to all corners of society. Particularly, I am invested in providing better support for active clusters to foster cross-cluster collaboration in the community.