Yolanda Gil Recognized for Outstanding Contributions to Geoinformatics

by Laura Wencel

Yolanda Gil

On Sunday, October 9, 2022, at the annual Geological Society of America meeting, USC’s Information Sciences Institute’s (ISI)  Yolanda Gil was awarded the M. Lee Allison Award for Outstanding Contributions in Geoinformatics and Data Science.  She is the first computer scientist to receive this award.

The award recognizes a single individual every year “who has contributed in an outstanding manner to geology through the application of the principles of Geoinformatics.” In the field of geoinformatics, researchers and scientists apply cutting-edge tools and research from the world of information sciences to address the issues within geosciences.

Gil, who serves as Director for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science Strategy at Viterbi, has been recognized countless times in computer science and engineering societies. This award is particularly exciting as it acknowledges Gil’s contributions to another discipline.

Yolanda Gil with GSA President Mark Little

Gil’s recent research on artificial intelligence includes tools for task-centered collaboration for water resources, crowdsourcing vocabulary standards for climate data, and intelligent assistance for modeling interventions in the face of natural disasters.  She is best known for the Geoscience Papers of the Future, an initiative she led that promotes best principles for reproducible research, open science, and digital scholarship across earth, ocean, atmospheric, and geospace sciences.

Gil became very involved in the leadership of EarthCube, a National Science Foundation program that involved interdisciplinary researchers in geosciences, computer science, and social sciences. Gil took her work directly into the field, spearheading a NSF EarthCube EC3 (EarthCentered Communication for Cyberinfrastructure) field-trip to Yosemite National Park and Owens Valley, where she was joined by computer scientists, geologists, and social scientists. There, computer scientists were able to observe the work of geologists in the field, uncovering the cyberinfrastructure needs for field science and bridging the gap between the two disciplines. In 2019 she received the inaugural EarthCube Legacy Award, recognizing her significant and lasting impact in technical foundations, community building, and mentoring.

“Together we have articulated a long-term vision for AI in geosciences, with challenges that are both enticing and rewarding,” Gil explained in her acceptance speech. “I am very excited about this research agenda and growing our interdisciplinary community in the years to come.”

Published on October 21st, 2022

Last updated on October 21st, 2022