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Remembering Dr. Peter Fox (1959-2021): An Unforgettable Leader in the Geosciences Community

Peter Fox, who helped build the foundation of our EarthCube community, passed away on March 27, 2021.

“Throughout his career, Peter was a tireless champion of data science and pushed the frontiers of this discipline through his early involvement in EarthCube,” said Mike Daniels, Chair of the EarthCube Leadership Council. “He participated in the early formation of the initiative, took part in the first charrettes, contributed to numerous discussions and provided expert consulting to several EarthCube awards. As he would often say ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ as was certainly the case for EarthCube in its early days, but Peter moved discussions forward with his usual style of bringing up perceptive and thoughtful issues and asking powerful questions.”

“I had the good fortune of meeting Peter almost 15 years ago, when we were attempting to push the frontiers of semantic data integration in the GEON project,” said Chaitanya Baru, Senior Science Advisor for the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator Office. “He was sharp, personable, yet willing to ask the tough questions—great qualities in a colleague! I learned so much from interactions with him over the years, and just by observing and watching what he was doing. He leaves behind a community that will certainly remember him, even as it sorely misses him.”

“Indeed, conference speakers have reported being pleased if Peter was in their audience, being honored if Peter asked a question, and being anxious about providing a worthy response!” said David Fulker, Chair of the EarthCube Technology and Architecture Committee. “His efforts and leadership at AGU and all organizations he touched helped elevate data and data science to levels of recognition previously reserved for advances in the physical and natural sciences. In addition to his generously shared expertise, he was an excellent mentor and friend. He will be sorely missed.”

“The EarthCube community was honored to have Peter speak at the last in-person workshop that EarthCube hosted prior to the pandemic, during ESIP 2020, on the application of open knowledge networks in earth science research,” said EarthCube Office Principal Investigator Christine Kirkpatrick. “Peter’s expansive understanding of the geosciences, of data and data science, paired with an appreciation of the history of science, sense of fun and down-to-earth qualities made any day working with him, time well spent.”

“Let's turn our shared grief into collective action,” concluded Steve Diggs, Technical Director of the Hydrographic Data Office (CCHDO) at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and past EarthCube Leadership Council member and Council of Data Facilities co-Chair. “Though Peter is no longer with us, his legacy will continue to make a difference through us, and we would be remiss to wallow in grief without a focused commitment to continue the work that defined his life.”

If you would like to share how Peter affected your life and career, his close colleagues have set up a shared space for memories:

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