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UCSB Geography Student Receives 2018 Raskin Scholarship

UCSB Geography Student Receives 2018 Raskin Scholarship

The Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) awarded the 2018 Robert G. Raskin scholarship to Sara Lafia, a graduate student in the Geography Department at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Lafia’s research focuses on enabling the spatial discovery of researcher datasets and publications. In support of this goal, she has develop linked data models and spatializations. During her time at UCSB, she has collaborated with the UCSB Library and the Center for Spatial Studies to advance the use of geospatial platforms, like Esri Open Data, to support spatial data curation and discovery. Sara's expertise is in GIScience and increasingly in geo­semantics; she is gaining complementary domain understanding of advances in Earth science computing through the ESIP community.

Lafia believes that the institutional adoption of tools that support spatial discovery is key to data reuse and interdisciplinary collaboration. Prior to graduate school, Lafia held several GIS positions (at the Region 10 EPA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District) where she created and managed spatial data. From these experiences, she learned firsthand about the current challenges agencies face in promoting data sharing and encouraging spatial literacy. This motivated her to pursue graduate study and work toward the development of better systems that lower barriers to spatial data sharing, use, and reuse among experts and non­experts.

The Raskin Scholarship is an annual award made by ESIP to a current graduate student or postdoc in the Earth or computer sciences who has an interest in community evolution of Earth science data systems. The scholarship is named for longtime ESIP member Robert G. Raskin, and seeks to promote collaboration, research support and exposure for talented students.

“Sara’s contributions to data discovery, open data access, and semantic capabilities for spatial data carries on Rob Raskin’s own research interests. Her energy in building community and data literacy across disciplines and audiences resonates with the spirit of ESIP.  We are honored to award her the Raskin scholarship, and to highlight her work at this year’s Summer Meeting, ” said Christine White, ESIP President

Lafia will receive a stipend and travel support to attend the ESIP biannual meetings; she will also give an invited talk at the July 2018 ESIP Summer meeting in Tucson, Arizona.

About ESIP
The Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) is a community of innovative science, data and information technology practitioners. ESIP members catalyze connections across traditional institutional and domain boundaries to solve critical Earth science data stewardship, information technology and interoperability issues. Through this work, ESIP improves Earth science data management practices and makes Earth science data more discoverable, accessible and useful to researchers, policy makers and the public. Learn more at or follow @ESIPfed on Twitter.

Annie Burgess, ESIP Lab Director