Meet the Data Rescuers: 2

Christopher Tracey
Christopher Tracey. Photo by Lauren B. Collister, licensed CC-BY.

Christopher Tracey is an ecologist and conservation planner whose work depends on datasets like those we’re rescuing today. “I can’t do my work without it–I have a vested interest,” he says. As a bagger at today’s event, he’s just uploaded one of those datasets, a set of EPA information on ambient water quality.

Christopher works on state wildlife action plans, which were federally mandated beginning in 2005 and currently enjoy bipartisan support. These plans are designed to keep species from becoming threatened or endangered, and in Pennsylvania we have 664 animal species that might become threatened or endangered–they range from the birds and mammals you might suspect to nearly 200 species of invertebrates.

Christopher told the hopeful story of the “saddest bird”–a male piping plover (a species that hasn’t reproduced in Pennsylvania since 1954) that spent an entire season at Presque Isle near Erie looking for a mate. The story is hopeful because he attributes the bird’s willingness to remain at Presque Isle to conservation efforts that made the habitat hospitable and may, in future years, mean more piping plovers will make the area their home.



Miranda Crotsley
Miranda Crotsley. Photo by Lauren B. Collister, licensed CC-BY.

As an environmental educator, Miranda Crotsley cares deeply about preserving scientific data. “One of the fundamental aspects of science is that what you do must be reproducible,” she says. “When you don’t have that data to look back at, the process is broken.”

In her work at Jennings Environmental Education Center, a Pennsylvania state park, Miranda uses data mainly for managing resources: Jennings has the only protected prairie ecosystem in Pennsylvania, and it is home to the endangered Massasauga rattlesnake. Data–from temperature, to humidity, to counts of animals–is crucial to keeping the prairie healthy. “We need to be able to use data for public land management. If it disappears we won’t be able to do our jobs effectively.”

As a describer, she has just described her first set of data, a series of biennial reports from various countries to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which outlines progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, plans for the future, and plans for helping other countries make progress.

Current mood: anticipation.



Evan Sherwin
Evan Sherwin. Photo by Lauren B. Collister, licensed CC-BY.

Evan Sherwin is a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University studying Engineering and Public Policy. His work is in energy consumption and its connections to other factors like the weather and income – basically, what factors affect a household’s energy consumption? In particular, he is interested in low income household energy use, in his words, “to make sure that energy is affordable for low income households.”

He uses NOAA weather data and census data to do his work, and it would be “extremely difficult” for him to conduct his research without these datasets. He is thrilled and hopeful that an entire community of people exist who are taking data preservation seriously and is thankful for all the data rescuers for the work that they do.

Current mood: relieved.


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