Corinna Gries

Credentials: Distinguished Scientist, Center for Limnology; Co-Director, Environmental Data Initiative

Position title: Center for Limnology; Environmental Data Institute


While completing her graduate work in botany, Corinna Gries discovered her love for programming, building databases, and digitizing data. At UW-Madison, she curates data for the North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, and she runs a data repository as co-director of the Environmental Data Initiative (EDI). Her work provides a foundation for data science through making data accessible and reusable.

Our natural environment is changing quickly and dramatically. Long-term research is critical to understanding both the changes that are happening, and what we can do about them. The North Temperate Lakes LTER has been collecting environmental data for forty years. Corinna’s efforts to archive and make this data publicly available increase the transparency and reproducibility of this work.

Because environmental change is complex, Corinna believes that reproducibility is especially important in environmental research. Scientists may arrive at different results using the same data because they have different approaches to working with the data, unique perspectives, or access to recent discoveries that provide missing information. Corinna’s work ensures that researchers can access archived data and replicate studies, which ultimately strengthens science.

“The scientific process changes a little when you can go back to the data and say, well, maybe this interpretation wasn’t quite as I see it here. You can use the same data, analyze them in different ways, and maybe have a much more thorough scientific process of interpreting them.”