Deputy CIO and Associate Director, Strategic Planning and Partnerships, Computing and Communications Services
How did you become involved in the world of data?:
I have been working with data ever since my undergrad days, when I used the 1851 and 1871 Canadian Census of Agricultural to write a thesis on the impact of the railway on the hinterlands of Southern Ontario. Back in those days it was still a relatively rare thing to work with micro data, and the skills I learned there opened many doors over the years.
After grad school I worked for 10 year in an Academic Department, helping researchers and students do empirical work, and my experience with Stats Can Data kept my services in demand beyond my home department. Sometime in the early 90’s, Guelph joined ICPSR and I went to the Three Amigos Course. This inspired me to write a proposal for a Data Centre at Guelph. Many friends, who belong to IASSIST helped me paint this vision. Although it was obvious that there was a huge hole in terms of the needs of researchers, I had to flog the idea for 3 years until we opened the DRC in Guelph, and I had a new job and new department. I am very proud of the work that our folks have done in the DRC over the years, and it is amazing to see the resources they now provide, compared to when I was a grad student.
What do you value most about your membership in IASSIST?:
IASSIST is an amazing collection of data professionals. Its members are deeply passionate about what they do and extremely collaborative in terms of sharing their knowledge and experience. The amount of work, and the quality of the work done by IASSIST members is truly significant and impressive. In addition, it is small enough that it has a very friendly and intimate feel to it, and everyone always makes you feel welcome and part of the group.
What was your favorite IASSIST conference?:
This is a really tough question. I can say that I have never been to an IASSIST conference I did not like. Social activities are always fun. I really enjoyed the location for the after conference sauna, the boat cruise that never left the dock, meeting a bunch of Finns on the lawn of the Chicago Jazz Festival, sitting on the patio with colleagues on the shores of the Lake Mendota, and watching three Champions League Finals with colleagues in Amsterdam, Edinburgh and Finland. On a personal note, Amsterdam was also great because, my future partner Ana, joined me for a holiday, and we have been together ever since. If you pressed me, I would have to probably say my first IASSIST at Yale in 1998 was the best for me. That is where I meet a whole bunch of new people, who shared my passion, who welcomed me openly, and became my colleagues, mentors and friends.
What are some things you are working on currently?:
I am probably a little different than many other members of IASSIST in that I live in an IT Department. I do report to a CIO who is also the Chief Librarian, so there is good synergy between IT and the Library. On a daily basis I deal with enterprise solutions like ERP’s, collaborative suites, networking and telephony. Sometimes that helps. As an example, when I work with something like the Canadian Access Federation through IT, and the library and data are perfect clients for the service. It is nice to be able to help bridge the gap. Currently I am involved with opening a Branch Research Data Centre at Guelph. I am excited because it will be pushing the Social Sciences into using CANRIE (Canada’s Advanced Research Network) which has been dominated by ‘big’ science.In addition I have been helping write a proposal for Scholar’s Portal to house the International Polar Year data for Canada. This is another opportunity to connect the Social Sciences with the pure Sciences and break down some barriers.
When not working with data I…:
I have 3 sons between the ages of 6 and 19 who can keep me very busy. I am an avid squash player, when my body allows it, and I also like to spend time in Canada’s north, in a canoe, and off the grid. I have a Century Home, close to my neighbourhood pub, and I spend time fixing it or working in the garden.