Dr. Robert S. Chen

Pronouns: he/him/his

Director, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Columbia Climate School

Senior Research Scientist, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)

201 Geoscience
61 Route 9W
PO Box 1000
Palisades, NY 10964


Robert S. Chen is director of CIESIN, the Center for International Earth Science Information Network, a research unit of the Columbia Climate School based at the Lamont campus in Palisades, New York. For more than two decades, Dr. Chen has managed the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), part of NASA’s network of earth science data centers and a regular member of the World Data System of the International Science Council (ISC-WDS). He also co-manages the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Data Distribution Center, and serves as an ex officio member of the IPCC Task Group on Data Support for Climate Change Assessments (TG-DATA). Dr. Chen is currently one of three co-chairs of the Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics (TReNDS) of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and co-leads the Human Planet Initiative of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). In 2017, he launched the POPGRID Data Collaborative, an international effort to improve the quality, accessibility, and use of global-scale gridded population data. Dr. Chen is a Councilor of the American Geographical Society (AGS), a member of the GEO Data Working Group, and active in the Research Data Alliance (RDA) and the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP). He served on the UN Secretary General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development in 2014, and was Secretary-General of the ISC Committee on Data (CODATA) from 2004-12. Dr. Chen has served on the Governing Council of the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the U.S. National Research Council (NRC) Board on International Scientific Organizations (BISO), and the NRC Board on Research Data and Information (BRDI). At Columbia, Dr. Chen is an ex officio member of the Earth Institute Faculty and an affiliate of the Data Science Institute. Since 1998, he has managed more than 40 sponsored projects, with external funding exceeding $100 million.


Only select projects listed below
Name Start Date End Date
Anticipatory Analytics for Environmental Stressors 10/1/17 6/30/18
Anticipatory Analytics for Environmental Stressors Phase 2 1/1/19 12/31/20
Assessment of the National Security Implications of Climate and Global Change 9/26/09 11/30/14
Development of National Disaster Risk Profiles for Sub-Saharan Africa 6/4/15 12/31/15
EI: Computational Thinking in Ecosystems: A-Program-to-Play Approach to Infusing Computational Thinking into Environmental Science Learning 9/15/15 8/31/18
Establishment of the POPGRID Data Collaborative 9/1/17 6/30/20
Exposure Data Development for Africa Disaster Risk Financing Phase II 4/21/16 9/21/16
GED4GEM: A Global Exposure Database for the Global Earthquake Model 10/13/10 10/13/13
Harnessing the Geospatial Data Revolution for Good: Characterizing Populations Displaced by Disaster 9/5/18 6/30/20
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Socioeconomic Data Distribution Center 1/1/03
Population and Infrastructure on Our Human Planet: Supporting Sustainable Development through Improved Spatial Data and Models for Human Settlements, Infrastructure, and Population Distribution Based on Earth Observations 1/2/18 6/30/22
Population Data Validation II 4/6/16 10/31/19
Socioeconomic Data and Applications Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) for the EOS Data and Information System 8/1/18 7/31/22
Socioeconomic Data and Applications Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) for the EOS Data and Information System 8/1/13 7/31/18
Stage 2: Developing Global Building Exposure for Disaster Forecasting, Mitigation and Response 8/22/14 8/21/17
Supporting Regional Implementation of Integrated Climate Resilience: Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN) 9/1/15 8/31/21
Terra Populus: A Global Population/Environment Data Network 9/1/11 8/31/16


Only select publications listed below
Name Published Date
Curating Big Data on Population and Settlements to Monitor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2021
Curation of Scientific Data at Risk of Loss: Data Rescue and Dissemination 2017
Measuring the Interdisciplinary Impact of Using Geospatial Data with Remote Sensing Data 2017
A Portfolio Approach to a Sustainable Business Model for Scientific Data Stewardship 2016
Bridging Disciplines: Assessing the Interdisciplinary Impact of Open Data 2015
Professional Development for an Evolving Earth Science Workforce 2014
Analyzing Data Citations to Assess the Scientific and Societal Value of Scientific Data 2013
Comparing Approaches for the Sustainability of Scientific Data Repositories 2013
Independent Evaluation of a Scientific Data Center for Compliance with the ISO 16363 Requirements for Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories 2013
Climate Change Impacts and Responses: Societal Indicators for the National Climate Assessment 2012
National Climate Assessment Indicators: Background, Development, and Examples 2012
Towards Sustainable Stewardship of Digital Collections of Scientific Data 2012
Book Review: A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming 2011
Open Data and the Future of Funded Research 2009
Toward Implementation of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems Data Sharing Principles 2009
Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis 2005
Organizational needs for managing and preserving geospatial data and related electronic records 2005
Global Infrastructure: The Potential of SRTM Data to Break New Ground 2001
Generating Scenarios of Local Surface Temperature Using Time Series Methods 1991