Data Services Newsletter

Volume 24 : No 1 : Spring 2022

Remembering Rick Benson

Earlier this year we lost our friend and colleague Rick Benson. IRIS Data Services would like to take this opportunity to reflect on Rick’s numerous contributions to the IRIS DMC and the lifelong friendships he forged in the family of seismic research.

Rick officially started at IRIS in 1993, having been a data quality specialist at the University of Washington (UW). The following year Rick was appointed Director of Operations, leading a group charged with the most fundamental and vital work of the data center. As a seismologist and technologist combined, it was a role he excelled at for nearly 30 years.

In that time, the DMC went through many large transitions, from establishing an office near the UW campus in Seattle (which Rick discovered) to deploying multiple generations of large archival tape robots to keep up with the pace of seismic data growth. Rick created the DMC’s first website and founded systems that receive real-time data over the Internet. Rick kept pace with the forward march of technology, including the transition to a RAID storage system and the major growth of operational processes brought on by the EarthScope/USArray project.

Rick saw everything from ground-shipping data on tapes to users to automated Internet delivery serving millions of requests per day; all of which benefited greatly from his level-headed, pragmatic, and user-focused stewardship. Rick was a fierce proponent of providing friendly service to the community, supported by and collaborating with IRIS. He instilled this core tenet in his Operations group, which he lovingly dubbed the Engine Room, championing a human side to services offered to great effect. His contribution to the DMC, IRIS, and the seismological community is immeasurable.

In addition to serving as an excellent representative and advocate of the IRIS DMC, Rick’s co-workers over the years benefited tremendously from his good nature. He made meetings better, interactions easier, and grounded the staff with his positivity and confidence. To many, he was a friend first and a colleague second. Rick was always quick to offer help, and many DMCers were on the receiving end of his good graces and extensive knowledge, getting help and advice with everything about home ownership (an expert builder himself), through mountaineering, local knowledge, and, of course, cycling and so much more.

All future work at the DMC, and whatever it becomes in the future, will continue to benefit from his influence. The fingerprints left by Rick will remain. He is part of our DNA.

For more testimonials from friends of Rick please see:

Rick working on the Marshmallow Challange with team at DMC
Rick (right) doing whatever it takes to help his team win at the “Marshmallow Challenge” (a social activity at the office). It worked, they won!


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