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Natalie Harrower biography

Dr. Natalie Harrower assumes the leadership of the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) on 1 April, 2023.

She comes to CRDCN from the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI), Ireland’s national research centre and certified trustworthy digital repository for humanities, social sciences and cultural heritage data. She was appointed Director of DRI in 2015, shortly after it went live to the public. During the first years of her directorship, she was responsible for securing a core operational funding line from the Irish government and establishing a sustainable business model with income streams from European research projects, philanthropic organisations, and industry partners. Under her leadership, the DRI transformed from a project-funded repository to an award-winning national research infrastructure with a prominent international profile and multiple partnerships across Europe and beyond.

In recent years, the DRI has been known for taking an active approach to equity, diversity and inclusion, aiming to ensure that the organisation and its collections reflect the range of individuals, groups, and perspectives that constitute contemporary Ireland. This effort has been reflected in the establishment of the EDI working group, which Dr. Harrower chairs, and through concrete efforts to widen collaborations and diversify collections, such as: the Community Archives Scheme, which awards membership and support to under-resourced archives; and the Early Career Researcher grants, which encourage the work of new scholars.

In the last number of years, Dr. Harrower’s attention has focused on developing Open Research/Open Science policy and implementation in Ireland and Europe. In 2021, the Digital Repository of Ireland was asked to coordinate Ireland’s National Open Research Forum (NORF), securing the first national grant for system-wide Open Science implementation in Ireland, leading to a new internationally peer reviewed granting program and this year’s publication of Ireland’s National Action Plan for Open Research 2022-2030.

A firm believer that partnerships, collaboration and professional service are key to success, Dr. Harrower actively engages with a range of external bodies. As a member of the European Commission’s high-level expert group on FAIR data, she helped author Turning FAIR into Reality, the influential report and action plan on achieving the FAIR principles in Europe (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). Following this, she was a member of the European Open Science Cloud’s (EOSC) FAIR working group, which provided recommendations on the implementation of Open and FAIR practices within the EOSC. She also contributed to the OECD Global Science Forum’s expert group and report Business Models for Sustainable Data Repositories.

As a longstanding contributor to the global Research Data Alliance, Dr. Harrower has collaborated with colleagues around the world on initiatives such as the RDA COVID-19 working group, which produced recommendations and guidelines in the early months of the pandemic for the rapid sharing of COVID-19 research data, as well as the RDA Financial Sustainability Taskforce, which identified appropriate and achievable revenue models for RDA’s long-term sustainability. She represents RDA as an Observer on the Canadian National Committee for CODATA. Dr. Harrower is a judge for the international Digital Preservation Awards, and recently concluded a five-year term on Ireland’s National Archives Advisory Council. She currently serves on the Open Science Taskforce of ALLEA (the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities), and is past chair of ALLEA’s E-Humanities working group.

As an expert reviewer, she serves as Vice Chair on the Social Science and Humanities panel for the European Commission’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Postdoctoral Fellowships, and on the Swiss National Science Foundation’s (SNSF) review panel for Switzerland’s SSH Data and Research Infrastructures. Most recently in Canada, she joined the review panel for the Digital Research Alliance of Canada’s Data Champions projects.

Prior to her time in Ireland, Dr. Harrower was a lecturer at Queen’s University and the University of Toronto. She holds a PhD in performance studies and film from the University of Toronto, and a Master’s in Political Science from York University.