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CODATA Obituaries

CODATA Obituaries

CODATA was established in 1966.  Here we honour some of the distinguished scientists to have contributed significant time and effort to CODATA’s activities and who have passed away.

Dr. Peter Fox 1959-2021 – A titan in the Earth science informatics community

With heavy hearts, we relay the shocking, sad news shared by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) on Sunday: Dr. Peter Fox died on March 27, 2021.

The Earth and space science informatics community, and the wider data community, has lost a titan. We want to express our condolences to his partner, Erica Veil, his family, and his colleagues at RPI Tetherless World Constellation (TWC) including his current and past research group members and all of his collaborators.

Peter touched many lives. In his passing, we all have lost a friend, mentor, and great leader. We know this short tribute covers just a fraction of Peter’s impact. A Kudoboard memorial has been set up to capture all of our memories from around the world and develop a deeper understanding of the legacy that Peter leaves.

Peter was known for convening the community. This message is shared by the AGU Earth and Space Science Informatics (AGU ESSI) section, the EGU Earth and Space Science Informatics division (EGU ESSI), the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP), and the Australian Earth and Environmental Science Information Partners (E2SIP), the Geological Society of America Geoinformatics and Data Science division, the Research Data Alliance (RDA), and CODATA, all organizations that Peter founded or championed during his incredible career.  In 2012, when he received the Martha Maiden Lifetime achievement award from ESIP, which honored his demonstrated leadership, dedication, and collaborative spirit in advancing the field of Earth Science information Peter said, “Your opinion of me is none of my business … rather I really care  about what we’ve done and how we’ve done it as that is the most important thing.” Read more…

David Abir (1922-2016), Israel, CODATA President 1990-1994

David Abir, was elected CODATA President at the 1990 General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio, USA. He served as a President for four years. He was an aeronautical engineer with special interest in properties of engineering materials and fluid dynamics.

‘During his Presidency,’ observes John Rumble, former President of CODATA, ‘Abir worked assiduously to ensure inclusiveness for all CODATA members and preparing CODATA to be a key participant in the emerging global information and connectivity revolution.’  Read more…


Phyllis Glaeser, CODATA Executive Secretary, until 1999 (d.2014)

Tribute prepared by David R. Lide and John Rumble: For 25 years, Phyllis Glaeser was the heart and soul of CODATA. She nurtured CODATA through the Information Revolution and as Executive Secretary provided the continuity, dedication, and knowledge that made CODATA the leading international scientific data organization. The CODATA community, and the data world as a whole, is forever grateful for her work.

More importantly, Phyllis was a friend and advisor to the outstanding data leaders who were CODATA presidents – Boris Vodar, Paul Melchior, Masao Kotani, Bill Hutchinson, David Lide, David Abir, and Jacques-Emile Dubois – all of whom respected her abilities and enjoyed visiting her office and home in Paris. Her broad interests in world events and Paris daily life made her a fascinating person to be with.

There are so many people in the CODATA family that were not just colleagues, but close friends with Phyllis who cannot be here today. Perhaps one of the best ways we could thank Lisa and Larry for sharing Phyllis is to name a few special people who are here in spirit, if not in person: Edgar Westrum, Lev Gurvich, Nicholas Kurti, Ben Alcock, Akira Tsugita, Fedor Kuznetzov, Jim Crease, Gordon Wood, David Watson, and many others collectively remember her smile, her wit, and her ability to make everyone part of her and the CODATA family.

Phyllis – we will remember you.

A Tribute to Phyllis Glaeser from David R. Lide (CODATA President, 1986-1990): I worked with Phyllis Glaeser for 25 years as she became the “Voice of CODATA”. Phyllis joined CODATA seven years after its founding, and she was instrumental in creating a climate in the organization that made it possible for specialists from many disciplines and many countries to collaborate successfully on projects important to the international scientific community. Both her logistic support of the many Task Groups and Commissions and her warm hospitality, exhibited in her own home as well as at the CODATA Secretariat, played a major role in the success of CODATA. She established strong personal relations with many CODATA participants and helped bridge the gap between those from nations that were politically divided and from disciplines that normally had little interaction with each other. And she was always ready to show her beloved Paris to CODATA members from all parts of the world.

CODATA owes a debt of gratitude to Phyllis for guiding it through its formative years and setting the stage for its future accomplishments.

From the CODATA History: “A very significant change at the Secretariat was the retirement of Phyllis Glaeser from her position as Executive Director in June 1999 after having been with CODATA for a quarter century. Blessed with an instinctive ability to help scientists from many nationalities and diverse disciplines to work together harmoniously, she served as the hub around which CODATA’s various spokes turned. She was comfortable with the rapid changes occurring in informatics and served as a mediator between partisans of the classical ways of doing data science and those impatient to adopt all the newest techniques and tools. During her tenure she was responsible for numerous editions of the CODATA Handbook along with many Conference Proceedings and Newsletters. Indeed, Phyllis had stamped her personality on CODATA in its formative years, integrating people, disciplines, and pioneering techniques.”


Fedor Kusnetsov (d.2014), Russia, Vice-President and Committee Member

Fedor Kuznetsov was a long-standing and committed servant of CODATA (ICSU Committee on Data for Science and Technology): he made a substantial contribution to CODATA and to international scientific collaboration around data issues.

Fedor was a world-class scientist, respected internationally for his scientific and technical contributions. His abilities as an administrator and successful Director of the Nikolaev Institute of Inorganic Chemistry (NIIC), Novosibirsk, led this institute to achieve world-wide renown. He played important roles in the business of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and also in the Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences.  Read more…