Every time Dr. Sarah Bratt goes for a run, apps are tracking her every move – where she runs, how far, her pace, her heart rate and even the food she ate before running. As an assistant professor of digital curation and preservation at the University of Arizona School of Information, this kind of data collection fascinates her.
“We live in a world where we leave our digital traces and cookie crumbs everywhere,” says Bratt. “We’re really good at having all this data, but we’re not great at managing it. We’re not great at making it findable, accessible and interoperable.”
Bratt researches the ways people use information and communication technologies to organize data and collaborate, especially in the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI). She honed her data and research skills at Syracuse University’s iSchool, where she earned her master’s in library and information science and a data science certificate in 2014 and her doctoral degree in 2022. She received her bachelor’s in philosophy from Ithaca College in 2012.
She was such an impressive student at Syracuse that she won the iSchool’s Master’s Degree Prize in Library & Information Science in 2014 and the PhD Dissertation Award in 2022.
Bratt considers herself multi-lingual, “speaking geek, librarian, fundraiser, researcher, as well as intermediate Italian,” according to her LinkedIn profile. Her research lies at the intersection of scholarly communication, research data management, and science of science. Her interests include metadata analytics, information visualization, and the ethics of AI in data curation.
The main goal of her research, she says, is to understand and design for long-term research data sustainability and actionable science policy.
“My research focuses on how we can help scientists make data more accessible and make it not only easier to share with other scientists but analyze it automatically,” says Bratt. “My research started with sharing and managing genomic data but now turns to qualitative data, which is a nightmare and treasure-trove for research data management in science.”
Bratt also spent time as a research Fellow at the Laboratory of Innovation Science at Harvard and a Fellow at the iSchool Inclusion Institute and received multiple awards, including honorable mention as a 2022 Better Scientific Software Fellow.
Her research has been published in Quantitative Science Studies, Journal of Informetrics, and Scientometrics.
For Bratt, working at the University of Arizona is a dream come true.
“Arizona’s iSchool is a powerhouse for cyberinfrastructure and data management. The biodiversity here is incredible, so they have lots of data problems, and infrastructure solutions. So when I was offered a tenure track position there, I was like, this is the dream,” she says. “I’m in contact with other like-minded folks who are really nerds about databases, preservation research, and open access.”