2020 Outstanding Contributions in Geoinformatics

Presented to Erin Robinson

Erin Robinson

Erin Robinson
Earth Science Information Partners


Citation by Leslie Hsu and Megan Carter

The Geoinformatics and Data Science Division presents the 2020 M. Lee Allison Award to Erin Robinson. Erin’s fearless leadership at the intersection of informatics, Earth science, and community engagement has directly led to countless successful collaborations across traditional domain and sector boundaries. She has tirelessly championed the effort to bring Earth science data and technology to the forefront to understand the environment we live in and to address critical challenges.

Erin's training in air quality at Washington University in St. Louis exposed her firsthand to the informatics challenges facing Earth science researchers. Throughout her 10 years with the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP), most recently as Executive Director, Erin has pushed the envelope when it comes to designing and providing innovative opportunities for Earth science data technologists to share knowledge and collaborate. She is a skilled facilitator and community-builder, always striving to learn and employ more effective techniques. She has become a role model and advisor for many honing their own skills in this arena and she has developed ESIP into an organization that others look to as an example in this and many regards.

In a relatively short time, Erin's impact has been remarkable, though we will never truly be able to quantify all the ways she has supported and advanced the community. She has been a key player in numerous efforts to increase the value of data to researchers, repositories, and publishers. To name just a couple, Erin has contributed to far-reaching efforts, including the Enabling FAIR Data Project, and she convened the first several Data FAIRs held at society meetings. She is renowned internationally for her work spearheading collaborations across continents.

Beyond her many contributions and skills, Erin is a generous colleague and friend, who prioritizes elevating the work of others over acquiring recognition for herself. We wholeheartedly congratulate Erin on this much-deserved award and look forward to what will no doubt be numerous accomplishments in the future.


Response by Erin Robinson

It is a great honor for me to be included in the group of amazing people that have received this award. I would like to express my appreciation to the GSA, the Geoinformatics Division and in particular those who nominated me and supported the nomination. I am deeply touched by this recognition. While this award often recognizes someone who has made a substantial technical contribution, I am particularly honored that my work supporting the community is acknowledged as a worthy contribution to our field.

Geoinformatics work is inherently collaborative and making connections is, therefore, critical to  the work. The thread through my work has been to be a connector. Over the last ten years, I have supported and co-created the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) and the broader geoinformatics community by lowering the barriers to collaboration and helping people with common data challenges find each other. I am here because of the many partnerships, mentors and collaborators I have benefited from through the years.

I have been fortunate in my roles with ESIP to not only stand on the shoulders of so many giants in our field, but to build the community together. This is how I met Lee Allison, and came to collaborate with him in the early days of developing EarthCube. I learned a lot about connecting across boundaries from Lee. I have seen my role evolve to advocate for the importance of scientific data stewards and good data management across traditional boundaries. The Data FAIRS acknowledged in the citation are one way that the informatics community is building these connections and I am thrilled that this year will be our first Data Help Desk hosted by ESIP, EarthCube and the Geoinformatics Division and their partners. Community plus data does equal action and together, we are making data matter!