Robert Chen is director of the Center for International Earth Science Information Network, a unit of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He manages the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center, part of NASA’s network of earth science data centers, which provides a wide range of geospatial data, tools, and services on population, infrastructure, and vulnerability relevant to disaster risk assessment and management, including the Gridded Population of the World version 4 dataset, the SEDAC Hazards Mapper, and the HazPop mobile app (iOS).
Chen is a co-chair of the Thematic Network on Sustainable Development Data of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the Data Sharing Working Group of the Group on Earth Observations, and the Legal Interoperability Interest Group of the Research Data Alliance. He also co-manages the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Data Distribution Center and serves on the Governing Council of the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan, and the Council of the American Geographical Society. He is active in the Disaster Cluster of the ESIP Federation and in a number of international data initiatives. At Columbia, Chen is an ex officio member of the Earth Institute Faculty and a member of its Practice Committee. He received his PhD in geography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.