Welcome Aaron Ellis!
June 12, 2024

Aaron Ellis

Hello! I am Aaron, and I am excited to join the team as the Data Inclusion Specialist. My fascination with the environment began during my early years growing up in rural Northern California, playing in creek beds, and hiking in the mountains. My early life was filled with the feeling that nature always surrounds us and is always an active part of our lives, even when we ignore or build on top of it. 

After high school, I attended Dartmouth College, where I majored in Anthropology supplemented with computer science, photography, and religious studies. It was at Dartmouth that I met Autumn—the person who would eventually become my wife, a Native American woman who studied Environmental Studies and Native American Studies. Our countless conversations and debates over the past decade have helped me articulate my own understanding of the environment and humanity’s place within it. It has also opened my eyes to other realities and relationships with nature, particularly the extractive and damaging practices that people can have when they engage with the natural world. I credit her for bolstering my resolve to be a better steward of the world around me and to find ways to actively engage with taking care of people and the environment. 

My research interests are diverse and deeply rooted in addressing real-world challenges through data. During college, I wrote an honors thesis on the Craft Beer Revolution and the meaning of craft, sparking my interest in research and the possibilities of online data collection. This early project highlighted the vast amount of data available online (even back in 2015) and laid the foundation for my future endeavors in data analysis. In graduate school, I continued my research on craftspeople and how they learn in the absence of formal education systems. I maintained a particular interest in craft brewers because of their sophisticated use of the scientific method, their commitment to teaching and learning through online communities of practice, and the openness of the community. 

A key aspect of my expertise is my ability to integrate qualitative and quantitative research methods: this multidisciplinary approach is evident in my work where I analyzed knowledge-sharing behaviors on various online platforms such as Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, and blogs and presented findings to trade organizations. My ability to translate raw data into easy-to-understand insights has been invaluable.

After graduate school, I continued my journey as a data analyst, working on side projects to sharpen my skills with widely available environmental data. Initially, these projects were to practice coding with different datasets but eventually led to creating models and calculators to better understand the role weather plays in maple syrup production. This hobby turned research focus on maple syrup was particularly significant, as I learned about syrup making from Autumn, who is Anishinaabe, one of the oldest maple syrup making groups.

My work in multispecies ethnography explores the interconnectedness of human and non-human species, shedding light on the complex relationships that define our ecosystems. I see this research as particularly relevant in the context of environmental governance, where understanding these relationships can inform more holistic and inclusive policy decisions.

My professional experience is a testament to my commitment and expertise in environmental data and data inclusion. Over the past six years, I have accumulated a wealth of experience in various roles, including my most recent position as a data analyst. In this role, I honed my skills in online collaboration, presenting information to a diverse set of stakeholders and using multiple programming languages to collaborate effectively. While the majority of my day job was focused on marketing, I spent my time outside of work pursuing personal projects related to the environment. 

My belief in the power of open source data and technology is a cornerstone of my professional philosophy. I view open source principles as essential to fostering transparency, collaboration, and innovation. Throughout my career, I have actively contributed to open source projects, demonstrating my commitment to making data accessible and usable for all.

One of my significant contributions in this regard was a project focused on using open source data to build models addressing environmental and food issues within a Native American community. This project not only exemplifies my technical skills but also my dedication to leveraging data for the greater good. My commitment to open source principles aligns seamlessly with the mission and values of the Open Environmental Data Project, which makes me even more excited to be a part of the team. 

My vision for the future is one where data and technology are harnessed to create a just and sustainable world. I align closely with the values of the Open Environmental Data Project, advocating for practices that protect our cultures, health, and environments. By actively collaborating towards a just future built on cooperation and self-determination, I strive to contribute to a world where data inclusion leads to meaningful and lasting change.

I hope my journey as a Data Inclusion Specialist is characterized by a deep commitment to environmental justice, a passion for data-driven solutions, and a belief in the power of collaboration. In my role, I aim to make a lasting impact by promoting inclusivity, transparency, and equity in environmental governance. I am driven by the belief that data should serve as a tool for empowerment and positive change. Through my work, I seek to amplify the voices of marginalized communities, ensuring that their perspectives are integral to decision-making processes. As I continue to grow and innovate in my role, I remain focused on driving positive change and fostering a more inclusive and equitable world through data.