Earth Institute Staff Directory

Dr. Robert R. Downs

Senior Staff Associate , Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) , The Earth Institute

Senior Digital Archivist , Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)

Acting Head of Cyberinfrastructure and Informatics Research and Development, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)

202 Geoscience
61 Route 9W
PO Box 1000
Palisades, NY 10964

BIOGRAPHY: Robert R. Downs serves as the senior digital archivist and acting head of cyberinfrastructure and informatics research and development at CIESIN, the Center for International Earth Science Information Network, a research and data center of the Earth Institute of Columbia University. He is the co-chair of the Columbia University Morningside Campus Institutional Review Board, an elected member of the CoreTrustSeal Standards and Certification Board, co-chair of the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) Information Quality Cluster, co-chair of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) Interest Group on Repository Platforms for Research Data, and co-chair of the RDA Data Versioning Working Group. He also serves on the Governance Committee for ESIP, on the Editorial Board of the CODATA Data Science Journal, and on the Data Archive Interoperability (DAI) working group of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS). He is a Senior Member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and a member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the International Association for Social Science Information Services and Technology (IASSIST). His research interests include the design, development, management, use, evaluation, and scientific impact of data systems, digital libraries and repositories; digital preservation; data management; data policy; data confidentiality; software reuse; participatory design; business process re-design; and organizational change.



Mayernik MS, Breseman K, Downs RR, Duerr R, Garretson A, Hou C-Y., and EDGI and Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) Data Stewardship Committee. 2020. Risk Assessment for Scientific Data. Data Science Journal, 19(1), p.10. DOI:

Parr CA, Gries C, O'Brien M, Downs RR, Duerr R, Koskela, R, Tarrant P, Maull KE, Hoebelheinrich N, Stall S. 2019. A Discussion of Return on Investment Metrics for Data Repositories in Earth and Environmental Sciences. Data Science Journal, 18(1), p.58. DOI:

Schuster DC, Mayernik MS, Hou CY, Stossmeister G, Downs RR, Kinkade D, Nguyen TB, Ramamurthy M, Zhang F. 2019. Challenges and Future Directions for Data Management in the Geosciences. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Ramapriyan HK, Downs RR, Dozier J, Duerr R, Folk M, Frew J, Hoebelheinrich N, Mattmann CA, Peng G. 2019. Bruce Barkstrom (1944–2018), Eos, 100,

Donaldson DR, Dillo I, Downs RR, Ramdeen S. 2017. The Perceived Value of Acquiring Data Seals of Approval. International Journal of Digital Curation, 12(1) 130-151.

Downs RR. Reflections on the Management, Curation, and Preservation of Geospatial Data, Journal of Map & Geography Libraries, 2016 Mar 15; 12:1,

Downs RR. Progress on the Management, Curation, and Preservation of Geospatial Data, Journal of Map & Geography Libraries, 2015 Sept 2; 11(3): 267-270,

Hills D, Downs RR, Duerr R, Goldstein J, Parsons M, Ramapriyan HK. The Importance of Data Set Provenance for Science. Eos 2015, 96.

Downs RR, Lenhardt WC, Robinson E, Davis E, Weber N. Community Recommendations for Sustainable Scientific Software. Journal of Open Research Software. 2015 Nov 18; 3(1): e11.

Downs RR. Management, Curation, and Preservation of Geospatial Data: Introductory Perspectives. Journal of Map and Geography Libraries, 2015 May 4; 11(2): 117-122.

Downs RR, Duerr R, Hills DJ, Ramapriyan HK. Data Stewardship in the Earth Sciences. D-Lib Magazine 2015 Jul; 21(7/8).

Starr J, Castro E, Crosas M, Dumontier M, Downs RR, Duerr R, Haak LL, Haendel M, Herman I, Hodson S, Hourclé J, Kratz JE, Lin J, Nielsen LH, Nurnberger A, Proell S, Rauber A, Sacchi S, Smith A, Taylor M, Clark T. Achieving human and machine accessibility of cited data in scholarly publications. PeerJ Computer Science. 2015 May 27; 1:e1

Wilson A, Downs RR, Lenhardt WC, Meyer C, Michener W, Ramapriyan HK, Robinson E. Realizing the Value of a National Asset: Scientific Data. Eos. 2014; 95(50): 477-478.

Mattmann C, Crichton D, Hart A, Kelly S, Goodale C, Ramirez P, Hughes JS, Downs RR, Lindsay F. Understanding Open Source Software at NASA. IEEE IT Professional, 2012; 14(2): 29-35.

Duerr RE, Downs RR, Tilmes C, Barkstrom B, Lenhardt WC, Glassy J, Bermudez LE, Slaughter P. On the Utility of Identification Schemes for Digital Earth Science Data: An Assessment and Recommendations. Earth Science Informatics, 2011; 4(3): 139-160.

Downs RR, Marshall JJ. A Proposal on Using Reuse Readiness Levels to Measure Software Reusability. Data Science Journal. 2010; 9, 73-92.

Downs RR, Chen RS. Designing Submission and Workflow Services for Preserving Interdisciplinary Scientific Data. Earth Science Informatics. 2010; 3(1): 101-110.

Marshall JJ, Downs RR, Samadi S. Relevance of Software Reuse in Building Advanced Scientific Data Processing Systems. Earth Science Informatics. 2010; 3(1): 95-100.

Downs RR, Chen RS. Self-Assessment of a Long-Term Archive for Interdisciplinary Scientific Data as a Trustworthy Digital Repository. Journal of Digital Information. 2010; 11(1): Open Repositories 2009 Special Issue.

Marshall JJ, Downs RR, Samadi S, Gerard NS, Wolfe RE. Software Reuse to Support Earth Science. Journal of Frontiers of Computer Science and Technology. 2008; 2(3): 296-310.

Downs RR, Chen RS. Organizational Needs for Managing and Preserving Geospatial Data and Related Electronic Records. Data Science Journal. 2005; 4, 31 Dec 2005, 255-271. Release Date: 25 Jan 2006. Online ISSN: 1683-1470.

Downs RR, Chen RS. Cooperative Design, Development, and Management of Interdisciplinary Data to Support the Global Environmental Change Research Community. Science & Technology Libraries. 2003; 23(4): 5-19. ISSN: 0194-262X. Co-published simultaneously as Downs RR, Chen RS. 2003. Cooperative Design, Development, and Management of Interdisciplinary Data to Support the Global Environmental Change Research Community. In Virginia Baldwin (Ed.), Online Ecological and Environmental Data, 5-19, Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press. Hardcover ISBN: 0-7890-2446-2. Paperback ISBN: 0-7890-2447-0.

Downs RR, Friedman EA. Digital Library Support for Scholarly Research. Information Processing & Management. 1999 May 31; 35(3): 281-291.

Downs RR. The Frederick Winslow Taylor Project: User-Centered Design and Evaluation. ACM SIGOIS Bulletin. 1995; 16(2) 20-21. Reprinted From: How We Do User-Centered Design and Evaluation of Digital Libraries: A Methodological Forum. 37th Allerton Institute, Oct 29-31, 1995. Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Chapters in Books

Downs RR. 2018. Chapter 9. Enabling the Reuse of Geospatial Information. In: Kruse JB, Crompvoets J, Pearlman F. GEOValue: The Socioeconomic Value of Geospatial Information. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis. Pp 129-146. ISBN: 9781498774512.

Downs RR, Chen RS. 2017. Chapter 12. Curation of Scientific Data at Risk of Loss: Data Rescue and Dissemination. In Johnston LR (Ed.) Curating Research Data Volume One: Practical Strategies for Your Digital Repository. Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) of the American Library Association (ALA). Pp 263-277. and

Marshall JJ, Downs RR, Samadi S. 2010. Building the Next Generation of Aerospace Data Processing Systems by Reusing Existing Software Components. In Arif TT (Ed.) Aerospace Technologies Advancements. Croatia: IN-TECH, 25-36, ISBN: 978-953-7619-96-1