Yaxing Wei to receive 2015 WDS Data Stewardship Award

Dec 08, 2015
Yaxing Wei

The World Data System (WDS) Scientific Council recently announced that Dr. Yaxing Wei, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Environmental Sciences Division–Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI) geospatial information scientist, was the 2015 recipient of the prestigious WDS Data Stewardship Award. The award “highlights exceptional contributions to the improvement of scientific data stewardship by early career researchers through their engagement with the community, academic achievements, and innovations,” something Dr. Wei exemplifies on all counts.

Wei joined the ORNL Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC), one of the NASA-funded Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) data centers in 2008. In the relatively short time since then, he has established himself as an expert in geospatial data and informatics and participated in some of the most important ongoing Earth science and climate projects in the United States, developing innovative tools to assist other climate scientists and advance the field.

At the ORNL DAAC, Wei has been dedicated in curation and stewardship of environmental sciences data. He created the Spatial Data Access Tool (SDAT), a web-based tool that leverages Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards, Web 2.0, and digital Earth (e.g., Google Earth) technologies to enable users to visualize biogeochemical data sets; explore metadata; or customize and download data by specifying projection, resolution, format, spatial extent, time period, band(s), and interpolation method. The tool, still used today, has become a standard in the field.

Wei has also worked on numerous Department of Energy (DOE), NASA, and NSF projects, including the Multi-Scale Synthesis and Terrestrial Model Intercomparison Project (MsTMIP) of the North American Carbon Program; the National Hydropower Asset Assessment Program (NHAAP); and DataONE. In support of projects, clients, and/or colleagues, he has created a collection of standard inputs for Terrestrial Biosphere Models (TBMs) and a standard data model to store and manage TBM outputs, set up the ORNL DAAC THREDDS Data Server (TDS) for automated distribution of environmental data, and developed numerous new visualization techniques and tools to explore similarities/differences in multidimensional data for climate research. For NHAAP, Wei created an advanced GIS-based method to perform analyses on the potentials for new, small hydropower sites and their impacts; led development of the Hydro Data infrastructure and tools to assess US national hydropower assets and resources for strategic planning and decision making; and was a key contributor to the research and reports on impacts of climate change on federal hydropower generation, a DOE requirement stemming from the Secure Water Act of 2009. Further, he has engaged with the broader scientific community to co-organize six workshops on data management practices for early career scientists to ensure better data stewardship in the future.

Dr. Wei is an active participant in the data quality, interoperability, data provenance, and workflow communities of the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) and the NASA Earth Science Data System Working Groups (ESDSWG), as well as in scientific communities such as the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

In short, his career to date has been dedicated to ensuring data quality and availability of scientific data as, in the words of one letter of support, “a highly engaged collaborator, co-investigator, and data scientist,” who, in the words of another, provides “an indispensable service to the scientific community working on problems related to social-ecological systems and climate change.”

The award, which includes support for travel and conference attendance, will be presented at the 2016 International Conference on Data Sharing and Integration for Global Sustainability (SciDataCon 2016), one of the world’s primary scientific data events.

By VJ Ewing.