Steve Masover's picture

Farewell and thank you to Quinn Dombrowski

Quinn Dombrowski and two of her children. Photo courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski, CC BY-SA 2.0

I first met Quinn Dombrowski at the University of Chicago in May 2008, at the second workshop of Project Bamboo, a cyberinfrastructure initiative aimed at supporting the digital humanities. By the end of that three-day workshop it had become clear that she was the get-stuff-done colleague I was looking for as a partner in the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded initiative that our respective institutions were co-leading. When Research IT managed to lure Quinn from UChicago to UC Berkeley, her hire felt a little like the capstone of my then twenty years on Cal's staff. It's therefore with some regret that I am writing this article to announce that Quinn has accepted a position as an Academic Technology Specialist at the Stanford University Library, an impressive next step in her career.

Quinn became a major contributor to Project Bamboo: a valuable liaison between Berkeley and Chicago, and between the project’s staff and its hundreds of contributors from universities across the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia; a core synthesizer, sifter, and sorter of the countless and often disparate needs articulated by scholars across a wealth of humanist corpora and disciplines; and, a relentless organizer on a project that required endless organizing. When Project Bamboo ended it was she who authored one of the most widely-read pieces on the challenges of infrastructure development in higher education, "What Ever Happened to Project Bamboo?"

Having arrived at Berkeley in 2012, Quinn directed the DiRT Directory project, which provided a repository of information about digital humanities tools for researchers nationally and internationally. After Bamboo, she led a project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to build out DiRT's technical infrastructure. She is co-editor of the “Coding for Humanists” book series, and authored Drupal for Humanists, widely used on campus and beyond as a pedagogical resource for Drupal development in support of digital humanities. She started a group for staff from across the US and Canada who shared her unusual position of supporting digital humanities from within central and Research IT groups. In addition to presenting together at the international Digital Humanities 2017 conference, the group has been effective in sharing resources for photogrammetry in high performance computing (HPC) environments.

Quinn worked with the Dean of Humanities and the Digital Humanities @ Berkeley initiative to shape campus support for instructors and researchers who apply digital tools to their humanities pedagogy and research. Leveraging collaboration skills proven on our campus and many others, Quinn played a key role in bootstrapping Consulting Summits and associated work across multiple campus units -- including D-Lab, BIDS, the Library, and Research IT -- to more effectively and collaboratively support Berkeley researchers.

If that wasn’t enough, she also took on critical operational and organizational development responsibilities in the Berkeley Research Computing Program, aligning practices across Research IT’s services. Quinn spearheaded the BRC Consulting service since May 2017, taking point on streamlining HPC account provision and licensed software provision processes, shepherding researchers through a major operating system upgrade on the Savio HPC cluster, and providing ticket triage for Savio users requesting help.

In Quinn’s new role, she will serve as the go-to person for digital humanities development in the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, in a position jointly funded by the Stanford Library. In addition to supporting existing Drupal projects such as the Global Medieval Sourcebook and the Lacuna annotation platform, she will be partnering with faculty on new endeavors, including implementing tools and resources supported by the European DARIAH digital humanities infrastructure consortium.

All of us in Research IT, and many colleagues with whom she worked during her six years on the Berkeley Campus, wish Quinn the very best -- and look forward to further cross-campus collaboration in her new role.