CLARIN is very sad to announce the passing of Christopher Cieri in March 2023 at the age of 59. Chris, based in Philadelphia, PA, USA, was a long-term Executive Director of the Linguistic Data Consortium (LDC), leading it for 25 years.
Chris saw the LDC evolve to a prominent global provider of linguistic data of all kinds that creates language resources and makes them available to both researchers and commercial enterprises. He oversaw high-quality linguistic data creation for many projects sponsored by the U.S. funding agencies, including many datasets used for Shared Tasks, which drive progress in research in many areas of Natural Language Processing ( ). At the same time, Chris actively pursued research and published papers, presented both the LDC and his research worldwide, and served on various advisory boards and committees. His recent projects included work with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia exploring the relationship between language use and autism spectrum disorder (in collaboration with LDC Director Mark Liberman) and as co-editor of, and contributor to, a volume on linguistic variation (forthcoming from Oxford University Press).
Chris established strong relationships between the LDC and like-minded organisations, collaborators, and sponsors, resulting in a vital global network that supported the growing language technology/NLP community. CLARIN ERIC is honoured to have been part of this network. Chris contributed to CLARIN as member of its Scientific Advisory Board from 2015 until 2021, as well as several CLARIN centres, such as LINDAT/CLARIAH-CZ, where he also served as a member of the International Advisory Board. He was also very helpful in defining LINDAT’s research direction in the area of language resources. In fact, long before LINDAT (and CLARIN) came into existence, some of the Prague team resources were published with the LDC as early as 2001.
Everybody at CLARIN and beyond who met Chris, at any occasion, was immediately struck by his smile and friendliness. He was always eager to share his knowledge and experience, and was always keen to help, which earned him tremendous respect within the community and beyond. We, the whole CLARIN network, owe you a lot and will miss you deeply, Chris.