Robert S. Chen
Director, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)



Robert S. Chen is the director of CIESIN and a senior research scientist. He served as CIESIN’s deputy director from July 1998 to April 2006 and as CIESIN's interim director from May 2006 to January 2007. Dr. Chen is also the manager and co-principal investigator of the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), a data center in the NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System. He is currently secretary-general of the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) of the International Council for Science (ICSU). In addition, he is an ex officio member of both the U.S. National Committee for CODATA of the U.S. National Research Council and the Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impacts and Climate Analysis (TGICA) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In the past, he served as chair of the NASA Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) Alliance and as a member of the Executive Committee of the NASA Earth Science Information Partner (ESIP) Federation.

At Columbia University, Dr. Chen is a member of the Working Group on Science & Technology Recruiting to Increase Diversity (STRIDE), part of the Earth Institute (EI) ADVANCE Program. He is active in several EI cross-cutting initiatives such as the Center for Hazards and Risk Research (CHRR) and a new CyberInfrastructure for the Earth Institute (CI4EI) activity. In addition to his role as SEDAC Manager, Dr. Chen has managed several cooperative agreements with the U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) on spatial data management and a project on managing geospatial electronic records with the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). He co-led a major collaborative project on the assessment of global natural disaster risks with the CHRR, the World Bank, and other partners. Dr. Chen also coordinated CIESIN’s spatial analysis and mapping support to the Millennium Development Project led by EI Director Jeffrey Sachs, and he has overseen other projects on poverty mapping, sustainability indicators, and public health applications of Earth science data. With the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), he is currently co-lead of a project on Discovery, Access, and Delivery of Data for the International Polar Year (DADDI).

Prior to joining CIESIN, Dr. Chen served on the faculty of the World Hunger Program at Brown University. He has held research fellowships at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, and the National Research Council in Washington, DC. He served on the Steering Committee of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Postdoctoral Program in Climate and Global Change and on the Committee on Standards for Geographic Data of the Association of American Geographers. He received his PhD in Geography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds Masters and Bachelors degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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