Ester Sztein has a career path that spans interdisciplinary and international boundaries. It is a path filled with opportunities to foster connections and strengthen the networks that advance science and scientists. Ester currently serves as Assistant Director of the Board on International Organizations (BISO) and Deputy Director of the Board on Research Data and Information (BRDI) at the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. As BISO Assistant Director, she manages the U.S. National Committees for Quaternary Research, Geological Sciences, Geodesy and Geophysics, and Soil Sciences. Among her duties as Deputy Director of BRDI, she has co-organized workshops on data commons and on data citation in the U.S.
Her work at the National Academy of Sciences has both international and national dimensions. Internationally, Ester manages the representation of the U.S. before the international unions for the various geosciences (i.e. International Union of Geological Sciences) and collaborates at a global level. Within the U.S., she strives to make these committees representative of their respective communities and helps organize different types of activities to benefit the U.S. geoscience community, paying special attention to early career scientists.
Ester participates actively in the geoscience community by working with U.S. and international professional societies and is particularly interested in multidisciplinary science in boundary areas, such as medical geology, and in science diplomacy. She is also interested in increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities across the geosciences and STEM fields. She wrote a book chapter on science diplomacy in the geosciences, published in 2016, and co-authored a 2015 paper in Science entitled “Soil and Human Security in the 21st Century” (DOI:10.1126/science.1261071).
Ester is a Councilor of the International Medical Geology Association and a member of the American Geophysical Union’s Technical Committee on Soil Systems and Critical Zone Processes. She holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the University of Maryland and earned her B.Sc./M.Sc. in Biology from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Coming from a different area in the natural sciences, plant biology, Ester is among the scientists who enter the geo-pathway later in their careers. As a research scientist, she pioneered the study of hormone metabolism in land plants within an evolutionary context. She has collaborated as an editor with the Biometeorology Institute (Bologna, Italy). As a nonprofit officer, she collaborated on conservation and educational projects in Latin America and Africa.
Ester has been a member of the Earth Science Women’s Network since 2011, following ESWN discussions, posting opportunities that might be of interest to other ESWN members, and building new friendships. She greatly enjoyed participating in the 2013 ESWN workshop “Building Leadership and Management Skills for Success” held at Brown University.
Outside of work and volunteering, Ester enjoys traveling, music, nature, finding interesting stone jewelry, and spending time with her husband, John, and family and friends.