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Celebrate Our 2024 Award Winners with ESIP

Celebrate Our 2024 Award Winners with ESIP

Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) is an organization of organizations. There are no individual members, however, individuals and member organizations often step up as excellent data stewards, community organizers and enthusiastic volunteers. This year, ESIP recognizes a handful of people who do the work, build community, and go above and beyond.


2024 ESIP Award Winners

Each year, the ESIP community recognizes the outstanding accomplishments, achievements and service of individuals spanning the Earth sciences, geoinformatics, data and computing. The awards are presented during the closing plenary at the 2024 January ESIP Meeting. 

In the spirit of ESIP’s 2024 theme, “Grounded in Trust: Data Ethics Empower Collaboration,” this year’s awardees show how individuals help build and maintain the foundations of teamwork and initiatives. Our Partner of the Year showcases how a small company can make a big difference in leading geospatial tech.

“Our award winners this year show the impact that individuals can have on larger collaborations and even whole fields,” said Susan Shingledecker, executive director of ESIP. “Their sustained leadership and involvement speaks to the essence of ESIP. We are a volunteer community and people’s generous offerings of their professional expertise and time is what fuels us.”

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Upcoming ESIP Awards

We celebrate our amazing community all year long. From FUNding Friday to our Community Fellows, we make sure to offer opportunities for growth, recognition and novel ideas.

Our next award will be for graduate students seeking to build bridges between the Earth sciences and data science. Learn more about the Raskin Scholarship: esipfed.org/raskin

And stay up to date on all awards, funding opportunities, events and celebrations through the weekly ESIP Update: esipfed.org/subscribe


Martha E. Maiden Award Honors Lifetime Achievement

Named for Martha E. Maiden, program executive for Earth Science Data Systems at NASA, the award honors individuals who have demonstrated leadership, dedication and a collaborative spirit in advancing the field of Earth science information.

The award goes to Robert (Bob) Chen this year. He represents an ESIP partner, NASA’s Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center operated by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) of the Columbia Climate School at Columbia University. Among his many lifetime achievements, Bob is one of the founding participants of ESIP and a leader in promoting open data access, stewardship and applications.

What I do: Over five decades, I worked to integrate natural, social, health, and engineering sciences to improve scientific data and expand their use in science and decision making.

Why I do it: Dealing with climate change and other pressing sustainability challenges requires timely, trustworthy data, information and systems.

Robert S. Chen
Director and Senior Research Scientist, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) Columbia Climate School, Columbia University

A keen interdisciplinary weaver, Bob has supported many multi-scale data initiatives, which in his words, are essential “to assess needs, foster participation, build consensus, develop innovative solutions, evaluate and improve implementation and ensure equitable outcomes.”

As his primary nominator Robert Downs wrote, “Bob is well-known as a leader and a scholar among members of the Earth science information community … While advancing the field of Earth science information within various roles, Bob also has brought out the best in others. He has raised the level of professionalism, congeniality, collegiality and collaboration that is currently observed within the Earth science information community.”


The President’s Award Honors Service

Selected by the ESIP President, this award recognizes a participant who has made significant, tangible contributions to ESIP.

“ESIP is a really special organization that thrives on volunteer work,” said ESIP President Denise Hills, Project Manager at Advanced Resources International. “But volunteer work often goes unrecognized. Our awards are a way to honor volunteer contributions in our community.”

Hills announced the President’s Award winner: Dave Blodgett from the USGS Water Mission Area, who leads the ESIP Information Technology and Interoperability (IT&I) Committee.

“The President’s Award is special to me as a former recipient because I remember how much it inspired me to continue doing my work with ESIP,” Hills said, “Dave has been willing to take on organizational artifacts, including revamping the IT&I format and examining the stewardship and purpose of the ESIP Wiki. He is willing to see the value of what has come before and envision how these tools can evolve.”

What I do: Work at the intersection of observational water data and integrated landscape modeling as well as open science and data best practices.

Why I do it: Helping solve societal and environmental challenges is the most important and rewarding work I can imagine doing – I am deeply committed to the USGS mission and my role within it.

David Blodgett
Research Civil Engineer , U.S. Geological Survey Headquarters, Water Mission Area Integrated Modeling and Prediction Division


Action is Inspired Catalyst Awardees

Given to participants who have brought about positive change in ESIP by inspiring other members to take action, this award recognizes exceptional volunteer efforts. The Catalyst Award winner, Aimee Barciauskas from Development Seed, leads the Cloud Computing Cluster. She is also one of the co-authors of the Cloud-Optimized Geospatial Formats Guide

“It is important to recognize people who go above and beyond – work that propels ESIP forward as an organization,” Hills said, who also selects the Catalyst Award as ESIP’s President. “We’ve seen the Cloud Computing Cluster size and enthusiasm grow significantly under Aimee’s leadership, where attendees regularly join the monthly calls and host innovative sessions at our ESIP meetings.”

What I do: As a developer and community organizer, I help advance cloud-native technologies to support geospatial data discovery, access, visualization and analytics.

Why I do it: Cross-disciplinary work and cloud-native technologies are needed to “unearth” insights from massive and complex Earth data.

Aimee Barciauskas
Data and Cloud Engineer, Development Seed


Falkenberg Award 

The Charles S. Falkenberg Award is a joint award through the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP). The award recognizes an early to mid-career scientist who has contributed to the quality of life, economic opportunities and stewardship of the planet through the use of Earth science information and to the public awareness of the importance of understanding our planet.

Presented to Antarpreet Singh Jutla from the University of Florida, the award is part of the AGU Fall Meeting Awards Ceremony. Jutla will present at the 2024 July ESIP Meeting in Asheville, North Carolina.

What I do: Explore associations of climate and water with infectious pathogens impacting human well-being.

Why I do it: We cannot separate humans from the environment in which they live and work. So we must understand how pathogens survive under various climate and weather conditions.

Antarpreet Singh Jutla
Associate Professor, Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment (ESSIE), University of Florida


ESIP Recognizes a Partner of the Year

This award, selected by the Partnership Committee, honors an ESIP partner organization that best exemplifies the spirit of ESIP. This is often displayed through collaboration, supporting data exchange, contributions to the ESIP community, or leadership in Earth science data.

Element 84 is the Partner of the Year. Their work to “open doors to open science,” which was the theme of 2023, speaks to the powerhouse collaborations that Element 84 cultivates. Following their acquisition of Azavea, another ESIP Partner, the company’s mission in geospatial tech expanded to support end-to-end data processing for clients who want to improve the planet. 

Specifically, Element 84 contributes to the open geospatial community through the SpatioTemporal Asset Catalog (STAC) ecosystem and their own public API endpoint Earth Search that gives users STAC-compliant access to cloud-optimized data formats maintained on the AWS Open Dataset project. They also create and share data visualization tools like their Geospatial Tech Radar

Within ESIP, Element 84 shows up in bold colors. Quite literally as the co-designers of the reusable lanyards and many beloved t-shirt designs. Previously, Element 84’s President Tracey Pilone served as the ESIP Board Treasurer and continues as a member of the Finance Committee. Element 84’s enthusiastic team contributes in multiple Collaboration Areas, projects and outreach efforts.

What we do: We are a woman-owned, small business that develops geospatial data processing pipelines and software that answers big questions about our health, infrastructure and changing planet.

Why we do it: We believe we can leverage our geospatial and technological expertise to amplify and accelerate meaningful projects. Working with driven partners we can improve our understanding and stewardship of the planet.

Element 84


This post was written by Allison Mills with edits from all the award winners and communications staff at their home institutions.

ESIP stands for Earth Science Information Partners and is a community of partner organizations and volunteers. We work together to meet environmental data challenges and look for opportunities to expand, improve, and innovate across Earth science disciplines.

Learn more esipfed.org/get-involved and sign up for the weekly ESIP Update for #EarthScienceData events, funding, webinars and ESIP announcements.