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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Data Scientist Peter Fox Chosen as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

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December 13, 2018

Data Scientist Peter Fox Chosen as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Researcher cited for fundamental contribution to Earth and space science data research

TROY, N.Y. — The American Association for the Advancement of Science has elected Peter Fox, data scientist and professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, as a Fellow of the society, in recognition of his “distinguished, innovative, and sustained fundamental contributions in Earth and space science informatics and data science research, education, and service.”

During three decades of research, Fox, an applied mathematician by training, has developed proven methodologies for rapidly and efficiently extracting meaning from datasets without exhaustive discipline-specific knowledge. His work has aided researchers at organizations including the Deep Carbon Observatory, NASA, USGS, NOAA, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program in the most effective use of data to advance knowledge within their fields.

In an additional honor, Fox was recently appointed as Editor in Chief of Earth and Space Sciences, the journal of the American Geophysical Union. The editor in chief leads the journal selection process and also serves as the public voice of the journal.

“Peter’s work is fundamentally changing the way scientists approach the data they collect,” said Curt Breneman, dean of the Rensselaer School of Science. “His techniques make data exploration so accessible that researchers are able to go beyond answering the specific questions they brought to the table, to freely explore data to identify all of the relevant insights it may contain. We congratulate him on this recognition. We are very proud of his achievements.”

In recent work published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers in Fox’s lab coaxed a massive database containing marine fossil records –with information including locations where the fossils were found, age of the fossils, and Linnaean classification -- into quantifying the ecological impact of five mass extinctions known to have occurred over the course of 542 million years. The analysis is the most ambitious thus far in the ongoing Deep Time Data Infrastructure (DTDI), a collaborative project at Rensselaer aimed at understanding the intertwined co-evolution of minerology and biology beginning with early Earth.

The AAAS will formally acknowledge new fellows during a ceremony on February 16, 2019 during the association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

At Rensselaer, Fox is the Tetherless World Constellation Chair, Professor of Earth and Environmental Science, Computer Science and Cognitive Science, and Director of the Information Technology and Web Science Program. Fox has been was awarded the European Geoscience Union’s  Ian McHarg Medal for significant contributions to Earth and Space Science Informatics, received ESIP's Martha Maiden Lifetime Achievement award for service to the Earth Sciences Information communities, and was elected as the first Earth and Space Science Informatics fellow for the American Geophysical Union. He holds a doctorate in applied mathematics from Monash University.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and over 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, five members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration. To learn more, please visit www.rpi.edu.

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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.