Peter Fox Named Director of Information Technology and Web Science Program

October 1, 2012

Peter Fox Named Director of Information Technology and Web Science Program

Professor Peter Fox has been named the new director of the Information Technology and Web Science (ITWS) program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Fox is currently the Tetherless World Research Constellation Chair and a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Computer Science at Rensselaer.

“Through his own research, Peter Fox has shown himself to be a master of crossing the disciplinary boundaries, a value that is at the heart of our successful Information Technology and Web Science program,” said School of Science Dean Laurie Leshin. “His contributions to the program since joining Rensselaer in 2008 have already proven invaluable, and I am delighted to announce this appointment.”

Fox joined Rensselaer in 2008 after 17 years at the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where he served as chief computational scientist.

“I consider this an important time for ITWS as a highly respected and valuable program with significant opportunities and very forward-looking goals,” said Fox. “I am honored to be appointed director of a strong community of prospective, current, and past students, administration, and faculty, one deserving of nurturing, promotion, and innovation—all while retaining our strengths.”

Fox said the employment landscape for ITWS graduates continues to shift, with increasing demand from new industries, non-governmental, and governmental organizations, opening significant opportunities for new partnerships.

“ITWS degree offerings must produce graduates with the needed knowledge, skills, and experience to meet the new workforce demands,” said Fox. “Adaptation and versatility will be required in existing and future ITWS programs, drawing on RPI’s strong track record in innovation for teaching and learning. I have performed interdisciplinary research for my entire career and sought out and contributed to such environments. Since arriving at Rensselaer four years ago, I have experienced the ITWS program first-hand: I have created two new interdisciplinary courses (Xinformatics and Data Science) open to graduates and undergraduates.”

The ITWS program at Rensselaer integrates a traditional education with an innovative focus on information technology and web science, and its impact on the world. The program looks at technologies such as computing, telecommunication, and online information resources like the Web, and it focuses on their application to solving problems.

In his own research, Fox uses computer programs and algorithms to mold the data of scientists so it can be easily shared, interpreted, and duplicated by other scientists and, importantly for him, understood by a range of non-specialists including the public. Fox’s research covers the fields of solar and solar-terrestrial physics, ocean and environmental informatics, computational and computer science, digital humanities, and distributed semantic data frameworks.  

Fox is principal investigator for the Semantic eScience Framework, Deep Carbon Observatory Data Science, Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Interoperability Initiative, and Semantic Provenance Capture in Data Ingest Systems projects. The results are applied to large-scale distributed scientific repositories addressing the full life-cycle of data and information within specific science and engineering disciplines, as well as among disciplines. He serves as chair of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics Union Commission on Data and Information and was chair of the AGU Special Focus Group on Earth and Space Science Informatics. He is an associate editor for the Earth Science Informatics journal, and a member of the editorial boards for Computers in Geosciences and the Geoscience Data Journal.

Fox also served on the International Council for Science’s Strategic Coordinating Committee for Information and Data. He was awarded the 2012 Martha Maiden Lifetime Achievement Award for service to the Earth Science Information community, and received the 2012 European Geosciences Union Ian McHarg Medal for significant contributions to Earth and Space Science Informatics.

Fox earned both a bachelor’s degree and doctorate in mathematics from Monash University. He is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, the Earth Science Information Partnership, the European Geosciences Union, the American Astronomical Society Solar Physics Division, and the American Geophysical Union.


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