Thomas Y Chen


  • International Collaboration Officer for Northern Hemisphere, 2021-2022



Thomas Y. Chen is an early-career researcher at the nexus of the polar sciences and data science. He has worked with researchers across the world, including at the European Center for Medium-range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), McGill University, and MIT to advance the state of machine learning-based modeling and analysis of Earth systems and processes. Thomas’s Antarctic research focus is broad and interdisciplinary, with experience in biodiversity informatics, remote sensing (especially using Earth observation data), hazard adaptation and mitigation, and sea ice & glaciers. A particular interest of his is utilizing data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to tackle relevant research questions. He is passionate about international collaboration on the cryospheric sciences, chairing and co-chairing two working groups of the United Nations Southern Ocean Decade Task Force: (1) A Safe Ocean, and (2) Cross-cutting themes. The first focuses on natural and human-induced hazards and the second is based around synergies between all of the other working groups. He is working with global researchers to develop a comprehensive report under the framework of the broader U.N. Ocean Decade that will define priorities for the next decade of Southern Ocean and Antarctic region research. Furthermore, Thomas is involved in SCAR, serving on the steering committee of the Expert Group on Antarctic Biodiversity Informatics and as a member and subcommittee co-chair of the Instabilities and Thresholds in Antarctica (INSTANT) Scientific Research Program. He is also working with the SOOS working group on the Indian Sector of the Southern Ocean to develop a comprehensive report on the status of ocean observations in the Indian Sector. Other professional organizations he is involved in include the Research Data Alliance, IARPC, the International Society for Artificial Life, and EGU/AGU. Recently, Thomas founded the emerging Polar AI Task Force, which he now chairs. Seeing that there was no organization dedicated to streamlining research, bringing scientists together, and fostering collaborations at the intersection of the polar sciences and artificial intelligence, Thomas founded the task force hoping to advance research/deployment in this area in a responsible, inclusive, and collaborative manner.