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DRI Director Natalie Harrower to Take Up New Role

Photo of Natalie Harrower

Dr Natalie Harrower, Director of the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI), is moving to an exciting new role as Executive Director of the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN). Dr Harrower has led the DRI since it went live to the public in 2015.

Chair of the DRI board, and Dublin City University Librarian, John McDonough said:

Thanks to Natalie, DRI is now an essential element in Ireland's digital infrastructure. Its growth in terms of outreach and inclusion and the increasing number of entities depositing in and utilising the expertise of the DRI team is a testament to the energy, enthusiasm, and dedication of Natalie in embedding the DRI within the academic landscape. We are grateful to you, Natalie, for all you have achieved and wish you the very best for the future.

Professor Luke Drury, Vice President ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities added:

On behalf of ALLEA, I would like to sincerely thank Natalie for her contributions to our work since 2012 when she joined the newly established working group on E-Humanities, initially as secretariat and subsequently as chair.  She was instrumental in bringing to fruition an influential report on FAIR data sharing in the Humanities and since stepping down as chair in 2020 has continued to work with ALLEA as a member of the Open Science task force.  I look forward to continued trans-Atlantic cooperation with her in her new role and wish her all the best.

Under Dr Harrower’s leadership, the DRI has transformed from a time-limited project funded by PRTLI (Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions) Cycle 5 to a sustainable national infrastructure and research centre with multiple income streams, a prominent international profile, and diverse partnerships around the world. In 2016, the DRI had a core operational funding stream that supported six roles; by early next year, DRI will employ 17 staff. Over this time period, Dr Harrower has achieved successive increases in core government funding, and has nearly doubled these funds through external grants from research, philanthropic, and industry sources. ​

Reflecting on Dr Harrower’s time at DRI, Sandra Collins, University College Dublin Librarian and founding Director of DRI said:

Natalie Harrower has committed her energy, leadership, and expertise to the DRI over the last ten years and she has taken the organisation from a grant-funded project to a national institution that leads the way in digital preservation and open research. She was appointed originally as the DRI Manager of Education and Outreach in 2012, where she developed an outstanding programme of learning and engagement, whilst also winning multiple grants and establishing a range of key national and international collaborations. She was appointed as Director in 2015, and she succeeded in securing core sustained funding for the DRI, a testament to all that the DRI has delivered under her leadership. I am proud to have worked with her in different roles for more than a decade and I look forward to seeing all she will achieve in the future.

Dr Harrower has worked to build DRI’s community profile and partnerships and led the development of DRI’s membership programme, which is now nearing 50 organisations from across the island of Ireland. In recent years, the DRI has been known for taking an active approach to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), 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 DRI Community Archive Scheme and the Early Career Researcher grants.

A strong supporter of open research practices, Dr Harrower has been involved in the National Open Research Forum (NORF) since its establishment in 2017. In 2021, DRI was asked to coordinate the NORF, supporting NORF staff, contributing to key strategic planning, and stewarding the first national investment in open research via the development and administration of a new granting programme

Dr Harrower’s involvement in international working groups, committees and expert forums has ensured that DRI has been able to embed best international practice in all of its work. For example, she is a longstanding contributor to the Research Data Alliance, where she most recently served on the Financial Sustainability Taskforce and co-chaired the RDA COVID-19 working group. For the European Commission, she was a member of the FAIR Data high level expert group, and later the EOSC working group on FAIR. For five years she chaired ALLEA’s E-Humanities working group, and currently serves on its Open Science Taskforce. She is a judge for the International Digital Preservation Awards, an Observer on the Canadian National Committee for CODATA, and recently completed a five year term on Ireland’s National Archives Advisory Council

We would like to thank Dr Harrower for her tireless efforts and commitment to DRI and we invite you to join us in wishing her all the best in her new role at the CRDCN, where we hope to continue collaborations. The CRDCN is a national research organisation and Major Science Initiative headquartered at McMaster University. CRDCN facilitates unique access to Statistics Canada microdata at 33 Research Data Centres (RDCs) for more than 2200 researchers across Canada in a wide array of disciplines, thereby enabling forefront university research and training and informing key areas of public policy. Dr Harrower takes up the role of Executive Director on 1st April 2023. Dr Lisa Griffith will serve as Interim DRI Director.

Image: Dr Natalie Harrower