Sophie Hou: Managing Data & Fostering Support, Engagement & Training

Sophie Hou , Data Curation & Stewardship Coordinator, NCAR CISL

Sophie Hou Data Management Presentation
What influenced you to pursue a career in science?

My interest in data conservation was one of the biggest motivations for me to pursue a career in science. The intricacy of how things depend on and affect each other has always intrigued me, and I am always interested in finding more ways in which I could be more thoughtful and responsible when I interact with the world. Knowing we are always discovering and learning something new in science has kept me very engaged and humbled at the same time.

Who are you at work and what does a typical workday look like?

I am the Data Curation & Stewardship Coordinator, which is a new position at NCAR. Even though the position is new, my responsibilities have been developed closely in relation to NCAR’s Data Stewardship Engineering Team (DSET). A major part of my work is to develop the Digital Asset Services Hub (DASH), which provides dedicated support, engagement, and training for questions and issues that users might encounter when working with digital assets. This includes data sets, software, and models. In particular, meeting data management plan needs and fulfilling the related requirements can be challenging, so it is also very important that I constantly meet with different members of our research community. This way, I can help provide data management plan services both in person and remotely. Through our collaboration, I can learn from their experiences, and use their feedback to refine and enhance additional services that I could provide via DASH.

During a typical workday, I spend my time primarily creating and reviewing documents relating to data management practices, and meeting with different members of our research community about their digital asset management needs. On specific days, I also participate and engage in activities from professional groups and organizations that focus on data curation/stewardship, so that I can help in sharing NCAR’s experiences and bringing back helpful lessons learned from others.

Who are you outside of work?

Outside of work, I try to make time for good reads (not restricted to books), walks (I found that urban, historical ones could be fun too!), and cups of tea (always up for trying a new blend). I also appreciate cultural events, puzzles, and stop-motion clay animations. These activities are extra special and enjoyable to me when I am able to share them with friends and family.

What has been your favorite work-related experience?

I love meeting people and learning about what they are working on! Everyone is dealing with so many different types of data these days, from administrative reports, budget allocations, to observation data, model simulations, and instrument designs. People feel very strongly about their data both on a professional and personal level. I enjoy learning about people's “data stories” and helping them find ways to take care of their data for the long term so that they can share their data stories with others.

The Power of One: If you could thank only one person for academic or career support, who would it be?

It is a really difficult question, and to be honest, I don’t think I can pick only one because the work of providing long-term curation and stewardship to research and the related outputs is intrinsically collaborative. I don’t believe I could do what I do without the support of my community, including everyone I work with at NCAR. While I definitely have been learning and getting feedback from many amazing mentors, I am also meeting new people all the time who are willing to share their knowledge with me to help me improve my academic understanding and professional practices. This is in addition to my friends and family, especially my parents and husband, who have been with me every step of the way, so I really don’t think I can thank just one person.

One-minute mentor

What advice would you offer to someone interested in a career like your own?

The field of data curation and stewardship can be very interdisciplinary, so a person who is interested in the data curation and stewardship career does not necessarily need to come from a specific discipline or area of study. However, it is vital that the person has a passion for learning and sharing, so that while s/he develops and evolves her/his own skills and experience, s/he is also willing to give back and contribute to the growth of the discipline as well as help others get involved, such as being mentors to students and volunteers within professional organizations.

Sophie Hou , Data Curation & Stewardship Coordinator, NCAR CISL