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Co-chairing the WDS-ECR Network: Looking Back at Three Years of Achievements

Sabrina Delgado Arias at the launch of ICESat-2Blog post by Sabrina Delgado Arias (2019–2020 WDS-ECR Network Representative on the WDS Scientific Committee)

It has been close to a year since both Alice Frémand (UK Polar Data Centre, British Antarctic Survey) and I completed our roles as Co-chairs of the WDS Early Career Researchers and Scientists Network (WDS-ECR Network). Reflecting on our three years in this role, we managed to achieve what we set out to do: lay the groundwork for a diverse and responsive network that creates opportunities for WDS-ECR members to advance their career development and visibility. Together, and with initial help from Ivan Pyshnograiev (Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, Ukraine), we accomplished the following key initiatives:

 – Developed the Network Charter, to communicate and facilitate feedback on our mission statement and goals, and guide the implementation of engagement activities.
 – Designed the ECR Network site as part of the WDS website. The website shares upcoming activities, networking events, reports, and training material to keep our membership informed and active.
 – Organized events to expand awareness of the Network, showcase our members work, and encourage new members.
 – Increased visibility of our member’s research and of opportunities for our members via a bi-annual newsletter and through the launch of our Speaker Series webinars.
 – Created training material and courses to strengthen knowledge of Research Data Management (RDM). This included the 2019 RDM Training workshop developed in collaboration with the WDS Scientific Committee (WDS-SC).

I first heard of the then International Council for Science – World Data System in 2017 when a colleague from my employer, Science Systems and Applications, Inc., shared the announcement for a Call to join the nascent ‘WDS Network of Early Career Researchers and Young Scientists’. At the time, the Network had only 14 members, and WDS was not only looking for people to join the Network, but also to push it forward and act as ‘WDS ambassadors’ to lead the initiative. What piqued my interest in this Call was the fact that the work by WDS, ‘to ensure that the critical information used to manage Earth’s resources is available to scientists and policymakers,’ aligned with my own work at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). 

As Applications Coordinator at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, I work to ensure that satellite data users—beyond the scientific research community—are aware of the freely available data products from NASA’s Earth observing systems. One of my key responsibilities is to facilitate communication between the mission scientists and the data user community to clarify not only the functionality of the data products, but also their utility to effectively inform socially relevant applications. As such, I saw a natural fit in being involved in the WDS, and I was excited to collaborate in leading the efforts to advance the ECR Network.

As is often the case when you volunteer, you get as much or more out of it than what you contribute. Through my role as Co-chair, I got the opportunity to showcase my research, to expand my network, and to leverage the WDS-ECR Network efforts to benefit my work at NASA Goddard. For example, in 2019, I was invited by Alex de Sherbinin, now Chair of the WDS Scientific Committee, and Associate Director of the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), to present at the June 2019 SEDAC User Working Group Technical Interchange Meeting. This valuable opportunity enabled me to give the presention, Input to Mission Teams from the Social Science and Applications Communities, and describe my work for the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) mission. Early this year, 2021, I also collaborated with the NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center (NSIDC DAAC), which distributes and archives the ICESat-2 data, when participating in the Second Latin America and Caribbean Scientific Data Management Workshop. In this case, I had the chance to highlight our work for ICESat-2 and to include representation from NSIDC DAAC in a panel on Scientific Data Management in Health and the Environment

After a year of many hardships globally due to the pandemic, I am happy to reflect on the wonderful experience of Co-chairing the WDS-ECR Network and on the many connections and friendships built along the way. I am particularly thankful to the WDS International Programme Office and the WDS-SC for their initiative to make sure that the voices of ECRs are heard. I look forward to collaborating with our new Co-chairs in continuing to develop the Network, now as a member of the ECR Network Advisory Board.  Finally, I encourage you to consider getting involved with WDS and ECR Network! There are many key facets of RDM where we all could benefit from learning about your contributions. Mine was ‘Research Translation and Societal Benefits’. What is yours?