Join Chief Scientist Dawn Wright in her Mission to Help the Oceans

We at Esri were excited to have Dawn Wright join our staff in October as Chief Scientist. This is a new role at Esri, and Dawn has identified some pretty aggressive goals. As such, we are actively recruiting for an Applications Engineer to help her meet these objectives. Here, Dawn gives insight into the work she’s doing and what she’s looking for in a teammate.

Summarize what your role as Chief Scientist entails.

First and foremost my job is to help Jack (Dangermond, Esri president) and the directors with science strategy so that GIS continues to be an effective medium through which scientists can do their work. I report directly to Jack, as I seek to represent Esri to the international science community and to represent important science trends and interests back to the company. But my position cuts across Esri and touches on many of the directors and their teams.

Some of my specific activities thus far are:

  • Working closely with the National Academy of Sciences
  • Serving on federal advisory committees; for example I am just beginning a term on the Science Advisory Board of NOAA, the committee that works directly with NOAA administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco
  • Participating in National Science Foundation initiatives such as EarthCube, which is building a new cyber infrastructure for all of the geosciences
  • Keeping up with the latest scientific journal articles and books

And by “science” I mean geographic information science, the science behind the system, involving the issues surrounding the use of GIS and the barriers to that effective use, even now the ethics of that use. But there are also the natural sciences including climate science, conservation biology, ecology, forestry, geology and geophysics, agricultural science, and more.

Ocean science is also big in this regard and there is an ocean GIS initiative that Esri has now launched with fantastic work going on across the company. I am currently very involved in the ocean GIS initiative, as my own expertise is in ocean science (with many expeditions taken at sea over the last 20 years to study processes on the ocean floor) as well as geographic information science.

What role will the Applications Engineer play in meeting your objectives?

This person will assist me with my own ocean GIS projects, which include:

  • The design, creation, and maintenance of ocean GIS tools and workflow automation methods, particularly for coastal and marine spatial planning and benthic terrain analysis
  • Development of 3D and 4D ocean visualization and analysis prototypes
  • The porting of long-standing, popular ocean GIS tools to the latest formats so that the ocean community can continue using them
  • Collaborating with key colleagues of mine on usability issues and best practices, especially the International Coastal Atlas Network that I co-direct with colleagues from Europe

What are the key qualities you’re looking for in candidates?

I am looking for a person with a strong coding or scripting background (e.g., Python, Java, JavaScript, C++, Silverlight, etc.), with strong experience in marine science or marine resource management but who also has exceptional communication skills (a good writer and not afraid to give a good talk or two from time to time). The person definitely must be able to multi-task and not mind working on a couple of different projects at a time, if that situation should arise. And while the person will be working with and reporting to me, he or she should also be a team player, be able to work easily with others on various projects, always with a professional attitude, with respect for others, and with a good sense of humor.

What will be the most rewarding thing about being your Applications Engineer?

The most rewarding thing will be getting involved in some cutting-edge ocean GIS projects that will contribute to the scholarly and resource management communities and actually make a difference to helping the oceans! The job will also be fun because working with me is fun! I have a lot of outside interests including cycling, film animation, Disney/Pixar, and Lego engineering. There may also be opportunities for national or international travel. And then of course there is working for Esri, which is an awesome company.

What have you enjoyed most about Redlands and/or Esri so far?

The near-constant sunshine down here* is pretty intoxicating. I’m also enjoying how Esri is a very relaxed place to work, with lots of interaction and intellectual stimulation among brilliant people passionate about what they are doing and hoping to “make a difference.” The community of Redlands is also super friendly with quite a bit of ethnic and cultural diversity. The road biking is great as well.
*Dawn came to Esri from Oregon State University in Corvallis.

Has this inspired you to want to join Dawn in this work important to Esri’s future? Read the full job description for the Applications Engineer and apply online. It’s a great opportunity to really make a difference.

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