Q&A with New ESIP Leadership: President Emily Law and Vice President Christine White

The Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) elected new leadership at its January 2016 meeting. Emily Law, who serves as the Data Systems and Technology Deputy Program Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) was elected President. Emily has worked at JPL since 1996, where she provides leadership and management in the architecture, development and operations of highly distributed ground data systems for planetary exploration and Earth science. 

Christine White is a Technical Advisor at Esri, a Geographic Information Systems software, content and services company, and was elected Vice President. At Esri, Christine helps business partners and customers define their business vision and carry their objectives out through location data and workflows. 

Here Emily and Christine discuss their involvement with ESIP, how the community members advance Earth science information and how they'd like to impact the ESIP community. 

Why or how did you first get involved in ESIP?
Emily: I attended my first ESIP meeting in the summer of 2011 in Knoxville, Tenn. After that I was captivated, and have attended every ESIP summer and winter meeting since. My involvements in ESIP include establishing and co-chairing the Disaster LifeCycle Cluster, serving as a Type-I representative, being on the Executive Committee and the Foundation for Earth Science Boards and having the pleasure to serve as Vice President for the past two years. It’s a huge privilege and an honor as well as a great responsibility to take on the President role. 

Christine: We all check out ESIP for different reasons, but why we get involved is a different question. At my first winter meeting six years ago, I was intrigued by the interesting technical discussions and underlying them, ESIP members’ desire to contribute to the science challenges of our day. But what encouraged me to get involved - through proposing a Testbed project, participating in Clusters, and chairing the Products and Services Committee - was the friendship and openness in this community, for a purpose.

How do you explain ESIP to those who aren't familiar with it? 
Emily: ESIP is a vibrant, open, innovative, collaborative community that draws top data, IT and science professionals together. It is the “go-to” network for those who want to collaborate and tackle data-related issues. Members are dedicated to providing solutions to common challenges across the science data lifecycle from data capture to management to discovery and use. ESIP is all about making data matter. The work ESIP does advances Earth science and makes the process of doing so fun.

Christine: ESIP is a special place where we can talk across organizations as friends about what we observe, learn and do—with meaningful results. Contributing to ESIP is a way to take action on the science issues that can seem overwhelming; working with the truly enjoyable people in this community leads to not only significant ideas, but the network to carry them out.

What is your vision for ESIP in the coming year?
Emily: As many ESIP members know, I worked with the ESIP leadership putting together our latest strategic plan and roadmap. My vision totally aligns with the one stated in ESIP’s strategy: To be leader in promoting the collection, stewardship, and use of Earth Science data, information and knowledge that is responsive to societal needs. The roadmap lays out a five-year dynamic implementation plan focusing on the ESIP activities through which the entire community works to realize this vision. I am thrilled to have this wonderful opportunity as the President, and am eager to work with the community to achieve our goals of further strengthening what ESIP strives and stands for and what it does.

Christine: This community has carefully developed the Strategic Plan for 2015-2020; now is the cool part: putting it into action. The plan gives us the “how” for ESIP to continue its growth and trajectory. Underlying the plan are important attitudes: that we encourage and use contributions from all members (especially you quiet ones out there), consciously grow and equip leaders, and focus not only on the information aspect of science but also its communication. Supporting how we truly work together in making data matter—this is my vision.

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