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Computer Scientist Francine Berman to Receive Paul Evan Peters Award

Francine Berman headshot
Francine Berman

The Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and EDUCAUSE are pleased to announce that Francine Berman, Edward P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Katherine Hampson Bessell Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, has been named the 2020 recipient of the Paul Evan Peters Award. The award recognizes notable, lasting achievements in the creation and innovative use of network-based information resources and services that advance scholarship and intellectual productivity.

Nominated by highly respected members of the information science community, Berman is widely recognized for her leadership in digital data stewardship, preservation, and cyberinfrastructure. Such infrastructure is critical to supporting data-driven research and new discovery in a broad variety of fields, including the digital humanities. Appointed by President Obama to the National Council on the Humanities, Berman has worked closely with the library and museum communities. She also co-chaired the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access and the National Academies Board on Research Data and Information. In 2012, she helped found the Research Data Alliance, an international, community-driven organization established to accelerate research data sharing and data-driven innovation worldwide.

“This is a wonderful choice; I’ve worked with Fran on various committees and similar efforts over the years; she’s a genuine leader and consensus-shaper with a long record of identifying key community needs very early and then acting to address them,” commented CNI executive director Clifford Lynch, noting that Berman “has been involved in many areas that are critical to the CNI community.”

An accomplished researcher and computer scientist, Berman is the former director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center and she was the first holder of the High Performance Computing Endowed Chair in the University of California, San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Since 2009, she has served as vice president for research (2009–2012) and professor of computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). She is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), as well as of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In 2019, she was selected to be a 2019–2020 Radcliffe Fellow, and elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“Dr. Berman’s research and leadership on data stewardship, preservation, and cyberinfrastructure have global implications for data sharing,” said Mary Lee Kennedy, Association of Research Libraries (ARL) executive director. “Her current work on the social and environmental impact of the Internet of Things comes at a time of significant transformation by research libraries as collaborative partners in the research and learning ecosystem. She is an exemplary leader and ARL is thrilled that she has received the Paul Evan Peters Award.”

Berman’s efforts in these areas have focused particularly on the policy, practice, technical infrastructure, and community agreements needed to ensure the integrity and longevity of the data on which modern research relies. Her work and service have also contributed to public interest technology, an emerging area that focuses on the use of technology to enhance and empower society.

“Francine Berman embodies the spirit of our three organizations, making considerable contributions to the field and offering a powerful voice in the areas of scholarly communications, cyberinfrastructure, and digital stewardship,” said EDUCAUSE president and CEO John O’Brien. “Professor Berman is a superb complement to the list of distinguished award recipients who precede her.”

The award selection committee was comprised of Christine Borgman, Distinguished Research Professor and Presidential Chair in Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles; Herbert Van de Sompel, chief innovation officer, Data Archiving and Networked Services, The Hague, The Netherlands; John Wilkin, dean of libraries and university librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and then CNI associate executive director (now emerita) Joan Lippincott, who served as an ex officio member.

Named for CNI’s founding director, the award will be presented during the CNI Membership Meeting in Washington, DC, to be held December 14–15, 2020, where Berman will deliver the Paul Evan Peters Memorial Lecture. The talk will be recorded and made available on CNI’s YouTube and Vimeo channels. Previous award recipients include Herbert Van de Sompel (2017), Donald A.B. Lindberg (2014), Christine L. Borgman (2011), Daniel Atkins (2008), Paul Ginsparg (2006), Brewster Kahle (2004), Vinton Cerf (2002), and Tim Berners-Lee (2000).

CNI, the Association of Research Libraries, and EDUCAUSE sponsor the Paul Evan Peters Award, which was established with additional funding from Microsoft and Xerox Corporations. The award honors the memory and accomplishments of Paul Evan Peters (1947–1996), a visionary and coalition builder in higher education and the world of scholarly communication. He led CNI from its founding in 1990 with informed insight, exuberant direction, eloquence, and awareness of the needs of its varied constituencies of librarians, technologists, publishers, and others in the digital world.

CNI is a coalition of some 250 member institutions dedicated to supporting the transformative promise of digital information technology for the advancement of scholarly communication and the enrichment of intellectual productivity. ARL is a nonprofit membership organization of 124 libraries and archives in major public and private universities, federal government agencies, and large public institutions in Canada and the US. A higher education technology association with more than 2,300 members, EDUCAUSE actively engages with colleges, universities, corporations, and other organizations to further the mission of higher education through the use of information technology.

For more information, visit the award website at www.cni.org/go/pep-award/, or contact Diane Goldenberg-Hart at diane@cni.org.