Remembering Sarah Jones

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06 December 2023 6954 reads

Sarah Louise Jones 1981 - 2023

We are heartbroken to announce the premature passing of our dear colleague and community member Sarah Jones. Sarah was an esteemed member of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) Council, former member of the Technical Advisory Board (TAB), and RDA community member since 2014. A fantastic colleague and a wonderful friend, Sarah will be deeply missed by many members of the global RDA community. Sarah’s energy, passion, and enthusiasm was infectious and she was a true believer in and driver of Open Science in Europe and across the globe. Sarah didn’t just talk the talk about openness but she really walked the talk. Sarah invested a huge amount of time and effort into advocating for true openness. She believed in community and its power and was a true believer in RDA, she said it was “her tribe”. Sarah was professional, prepared and passionate about her work and had an incredible work ethic, but she also infused her enthusiasm and energy into social networking. She made many friends through RDA and we are feeling a devastating loss. RDA would like to honour Sarah’s memory and huge contribution to the Open Science community and will keep you updated on this initiative.

Our sincerest condolences to her family, especially her father Graham, her brother Mark, her sister Nicola, and her colleagues at GEANT and former colleagues at DCC. Anyone who had the fortune to know Sarah will understand the devastating loss we are all feeling.

Thank you Sarah for all you did and simply for being sensitive, kind and caring. Thank you for being you.
The Research Data Alliance

RDA Community members are invited to leave a message, a memory, a dedication for Sarah's family by logging in and using the comment feature on this page.

Note that the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) and GEANT both have Books of Condolence open.

  • Isabelle PERSEIL's picture

    Author: Isabelle PERSEIL

    Date: 06 Dec, 2023

    Now I remember Sarah as a person adorned with an incredible lightness who didn't impose anything, with her angelic smile and her look full of compassion. It's difficult to list all her contributions, Sarah was absolutely everywhere, sometimes in the working groups, in the interest groups, with the newcomers, sometimes in the TAB, sometimes in the Council. Sarah contributed so much and gave so much of herself, so much so that she epitomised our RDA, with all its diversity, its thirst for sharing and its desire to bring people together, a bit like our Marianne in France. 
    On this day of immense sadness, our entire Alliance feels alone and abandoned.

    Isabelle, TAB co-chair


  • Romain DAVID's picture

    Author: Romain DAVID

    Date: 06 Dec, 2023


    I am shocked by this news and extremely sad to see someone like Sarah leave so early. I saw her so active in many actions of the Research Data Alliance, and we see each other regularly every week as part of the EOSC Task Forces. Know that she has always shown us to what extent the sharing of the goods of all, starting with knowledge in science, must be promoted. I will participate in the rest of the work always thinking of our dear colleague. All my condolences to his family and loved ones.

    Romain, RDA active member

  • Najla Rettberg's picture

    Author: Najla Rettberg

    Date: 06 Dec, 2023

    Writing these words is incredibly hard. Sarah was an inspiring and compassionate person who affected all our lives. We were lucky to have her, she committed so much to RDA and open science and was a supportive colleague. Above all she was imaginative and - as someone once said - "the most perfect communicator". She really was an inspiration in managing to crack through the complex issues and make it vivid and understandable. As a friend she was so warm and listened and full of bubbly fun with an infectious laugh. The world today is a sadder place. However we must remember her and celebrate the Sarah we knew and loved - Sarah, your memory will always be with us. My deep condolences to her family and all who were close to her at this bewildering time.  

    Najla, RDA Europe 

  • Allyson Lister's picture

    Author: Allyson Lister

    Date: 06 Dec, 2023

    Every time you talked to Sarah, you gained something. I found her presentations to be amazing, and conversations with her to be absolutely fantastic every time. I will particularly remember a recent conversation we had about incoporating gaming mechanisms into engagement strategies for open/FAIR research data, where we laughed and chatted about the possibilities of of modern board and social gaming mechanisms for helping with training around open science, the RDA and all things RDM. Every time I use (and credit) her Venn diagram of FAIR and open science I think about how good she was at distilling important concepts. Find this particular diagram of hers at slide 16 of this presentation, just one small reminder for us all of her very large contribution to the field.

    I'm so sorry to hear this news, and want to add my condolences to everyone's for her family and everyone close to her.

    Allyson, RDA co-chair and RDA/EOSC Future Ambassador


  • Richard Pitts's picture

    Author: Richard Pitts

    Date: 06 Dec, 2023

    Allyson say it all really and this is extremely sad news, I only recently came know Sarah but was deeply impressed by her depth of knowledge and openness to engage, just lovely. My deep condolences to her family and all who were close to her...

  • Angus Whyte's picture

    Author: Angus Whyte

    Date: 06 Dec, 2023

    I was lucky enough to work with Sarah for the duration of her stint with Digital Curation Centre.  You could not hope for a warmer or more capable colleague, open in every way, and a true leader. No doubt her presence will be missed from everything she touched. It certainly will from my life.

  • Mark Parsons's picture

    Author: Mark Parsons

    Date: 06 Dec, 2023

    Oh no! This is terrible. I always really liked and admired Sarah. She had such verve and enthusiasm, and was always nice as could be. I only had the fortune to work with her on one project, but I was really struck by her personable approach and deep wisdom on matters of data science.

  • Katherine McNeill's picture

    Author: Katherine McNeill

    Date: 06 Dec, 2023

    I am so very sad, being part of the wave of people that Sarah touched, both professionally and personally. Sarah exemplifed that magic combination of expertise, enthusiasm, and genuine interest in others, to which we all should aspire. I feel so grateful to have known Sarah and for every conversation I had with her. My thoughts and condolences to her family and friends.

  • Stefanie Kethers's picture

    Author: Stefanie Kethers

    Date: 07 Dec, 2023

    This is terrible, terrible news, and my thoughts are with her family and friends.

    Sarah was such a fantastic person, knowledegable, helpful, enthusiastic, energetic, and just genuinely lovely. I always enjoyed working and interacting with her. I will miss her a lot.

  • Heidi Laine's picture

    Author: Heidi Laine

    Date: 07 Dec, 2023

    I'm so very heart-broken by the news of Sarah's passing. I have admired her for as long as I've known her, and not just for her many professional accomplishments. She was also such a warm, kind, and open human being. My condolences to family and friends.

  • João Manuel Fernandes Cardoso's picture

    Author: João Manuel Fer...

    Date: 07 Dec, 2023

    Heart breaking news. Sarah was a joy to interact with. Very sad to see her go.
    My condolences to family and friends.

  • Marta Teperek's picture

    Author: Marta Teperek

    Date: 07 Dec, 2023

    I had the privilege of knowing Sarah for many years. She was my mentor and role model from the beginning of my journey in the RDM world. I will be always grateful for her unwavering support, encouragement, and trust. She was also the one who introduced me to the RDA community. Sarah not only became a dear colleague and friend but also enriched my life by sharing her colleagues and friends with me. Her leadership, professionalism, dedication, and expertise inspired me, and her inclusive and humane approach, coupled with a commitment to community values, left a lasting impact. I admired her courage to stand up for what she believed in and her strength to call out nonsense for what it was. Sarah was a beautiful person, who possessed the extraordinary ability to make ordinary people special. I experienced substantial personal and professional growth because of her, and I owe much of who I am today to Sarah. She has positively changed my life, and I will forever cherish the beautiful memories.

    We have all lost someone very special. Each of us now bears an even greater duty to strive for courage, transparency, kindness, inclusivity, and overall humanity. Without that special person who was always there for us, we must intensify our efforts and be even more mindful in supporting one another. We need to ensure that the values she shared continue to thrive in our community.

    Thank you for everything you did, for the person you were, and I miss you greatly, Sarah.


  • Roland Bertelmann's picture

    Author: Roland Bertelmann

    Date: 07 Dec, 2023

    This can't be true. We will miss you!

  • Gabi Wong's picture

    Author: Gabi Wong

    Date: 07 Dec, 2023

    I cannot believe it. So shocked, so sad.

    We only worked together briefly, but I always remember your passion, your amazing ability in facilitating discussions, your friendliness. I will remember you.

  • Rory Macneil's picture

    Author: Rory Macneil

    Date: 07 Dec, 2023

    To me, as to so many others, Sarah was generous with her time, wise in her counsel, and always a pleasure to spend time with and be around.  I can't find better words to remember Sarah by than Marta's -- I too admired her courage to stand up for what she believed in and her strength to call out nonsense for what it was. Sarah was a beautiful person, who possessed the extraordinary ability to make ordinary people special.   I will miss Sarah a lot.  I hope we will find ways to let her spirit and her many contributions continue to have a positive impact on our community.

  • Shelley Stall's picture

    Author: Shelley Stall

    Date: 07 Dec, 2023

    There is little more I can add to what others have said already.  

    For me Sarah was (and still is) a role-model that encouraged me to do better. To cherish our community, to work towards common understandings, to hold each other and myself accountable for what we believe.  I give thanks that she was part of my life.  I am a better person for it.

  • Natasha Simons's picture

    Author: Natasha Simons

    Date: 08 Dec, 2023

    Sarah was a good friend to me over many years. I'm devastated she has passed away. She was warm, funny, clever, vivacious, witty and generous. Our work connected us and even though we were living on opposite sides of the world, we had great times together exploring wonderful places. One night in 2019 she arrived at my house in Brisbane, Australia, with all the good stuff needed to make us the best white lady cocktails. We talked and laughed all night. Gutted that I missed seeing her recently in Salzburg because I was sick with COVID and isolated in a hotel room. Rest in peace, Sarah, you gorgeous woman with a big heart. You'll be missed forever and you'll always be in my heart.

  • Connie Clare's picture

    Author: Connie Clare

    Date: 08 Dec, 2023

    I am deeply saddened by the passing of Sarah and have been struggling to put into words just how inspirational and influential she was within our community. There are simply not enough words to explain or describe how amazing she was. 

    Every time I met Sarah, she infected me with her vibrant and vivacious energy. When I joined the RDA in my role as Community Manager, she kindly supported me from day one. Dedicated to her role on the Technical Advisory Board, she was always willing to help and offer advice or constructive feedback on ideas for community projects. She always had the RDA's best interests at heart. 

    She also welcomed me into my new role with open arms - quite literally giving me the biggest, warmest hug that I'll never forget in Gothenburg. I also remember thinking that day that Sarah had the most beautiful hair, mesmirising eyes, and the most heart-warming smile - She really was a beautiful person inside and out. 

    As some of you remember, Sarah was the perfect communicator. Always clear and captivating with an engaging voice that I could listen to all day long. She was a fountain of knowledge, especially in the field of Open Scince/data, and always seemed to be able to find the rights words. I truly enjoyed and learned a lot from her presentations, and all other engagement we had. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, Sarah.

    I'm sure Sarah will continue to be a beacon of light within the RDA community and beyond.

  • Francoise Genova's picture

    Author: Francoise Genova

    Date: 08 Dec, 2023

    I worked closely with Sarah, in the EC Expert Group on Turning FAIR into Reality and then as her co-chair of the pre-EOSC Association FAIR Working Group of the EOSC Secretariat. She incarnated vision, leadership and friendliness.

    Dearest Sarah, your friends, your colleagues from all around the world celebrate your wit, your engagement, your accomplishments, and your kindness. May we remember your marvellous smile as a talisman for this hard time and for the future.

  • Alastair Dunning's picture

    Author: Alastair Dunning

    Date: 08 Dec, 2023

    This is terrible news to hear. Sarah had been a positive, connecting force in open science, and open infrastructures, moving easily between countries, communities and people. She spoke clearly, and without pretension. A sad loss.

  • Mitrea Geta's picture

    Author: Mitrea Geta

    Date: 08 Dec, 2023

    I was extremely sad when I heard the news. I feel honored to have met her and received her positive encouragements and constructive ideas.

    I will always remember her, her permanent optimism and I am sure that we will not forget her.

  • Mari Elisa Kuusniemi's picture

    Author: Mari Elisa Kuusniemi

    Date: 08 Dec, 2023

    I got to know Sarah approximately ten years ago while working on a DMP tool project. Since then, we have collaborated in various open science contexts. Sarah was active, friendly, competent, and always focused on the ball (aiming for better services for researchers).

    Now that Sarah is no longer with us, does the work in open science feel the same? I fear it doesn't. That's why something needs to be done otherwise the grief overwhelms. I don't yet know what that might be, but we are eagerly involved if someone comes up with a way to commemorate Sarah's work in the field of open science.

    Thankful for the shared years, offering condolences to family and friends,
    - MEK and the Helsinki University Library.

  • Ana Petrus's picture

    Author: Ana Petrus

    Date: 09 Dec, 2023

    The Open Science, FAIR and RDM communities have lost one of their greatest champions! It's so hard to imagine them without Sarah. She has been a major driving force behind many positive developments, propelling us towards a better, brighter, and fairer world of research data.

    I first got to know Sarah through her writings and presentations, which were immensely helpful when I was starting my journey into the world of RDM. Later, we met occasionally at workshops and conferences, although we never worked together. As many others have written, Sarah was not only an excellent communicator; she was also a generous teacher, a highly competent expert, and, above all, a supportive and friendly colleague. She had a gift for making everyone feel welcome and it was a joy to share experiences and ideas with her.

    Thank you, Sarah, for your tireless engagement in our communities and your unwavering enthusiasm. You will be fondly remembered by many around the world, and we will keep the torch burning. My sincere condolences to family and friends, with wishes for strength and comfort at this difficult time.

  • Yan Wang's picture

    Author: Yan Wang

    Date: 10 Dec, 2023

    I was very shocked by this news. It is still hard to believe we have lost Sarah in the RDM/OS community.

    She has alwasy been the source of passion, energy and inspiration in every venue we have met. She connected people closely with each other no mater who you are, she made everyone feel welcome. 

    She is deeply missed and I am sure she will be remembered by all of us! 

  • Sandra Collins's picture

    Author: Sandra Collins

    Date: 11 Dec, 2023

    I'm so very sorry to hear the terrible news.

    Sarah will be missed by so many people whose lives she touched with her kindness, her vibrancy, energy and enthusiasm.

    It feels like she always had a smile for everyone and she lit up a room when she entered it.

    For all of Sarah's friends and family, sending sympathy and kind thoughts, during a dark time.

    With love, Sandra.

  • Madeleine de Smaele's picture

    Author: Madeleine de Smaele

    Date: 12 Dec, 2023

    Deeply sad and shocked when I heard the news, and it still feels unreal.
    I first met Sarah when she and few DCC colleagues visited TU Delft in the early days of 4TU.ResearchData. We learned about the Curation Lifecycle Model which helped us shape the data repository service. Since then there have been numerous occasions where I have met Sarah, at workshops and conferences or during other collaborations.

    All meetings were always extremely warm, friendly, inspiring, supportive, and above all Sarah was genuinely interested in who you were as a person.
    I will keep her in my heart forever.

    My thoughts are with her family, friends, and her (former) colleagues at DCC and GEANT.

  • Claudia Bauzer Medeiros's picture

    Author: Claudia Bauzer ...

    Date: 13 Dec, 2023

    Sarah was everywhere, interacting with everyone, at all times. An enthusiast for everything she did. We all remember her many  contributions to RDA and her advocacy and commitment to open science. But to me, her foremost contributions lie in her ability to attract and engage people, to fostering collaborations and, through her people-oriented actions, very effectively help strengthen and build our community. She enabled the creation of strong bonds among people, which will grow and last and produce great results way beyond expectations. A lasting impact from an unforgetful person.

    My condolences to her family,  


  • Margaret Louise  Fotland's picture

    Author: Margaret Louise...

    Date: 14 Dec, 2023

    Words of remembrance for Sarah Jones

    It was with sorrow and shock that we received the news that Sarah is no longer with us.

    Sarah was, in many ways, the embodiment of RDA, always approachable, positive, and including, making one feel like a part of the community. 

    In particular, her support when establishing the Norwegian RDA node was invaluable.

    She generously shared her knowledge, to the benefit of us and our institutions for strategy development, training, and cultural change.


    Sarah will be missed!


    On behalf of RDA-Norway,

    Margaret Louise Fotland and Elin Stangeland


  • Daniel Bangert's picture

    Author: Daniel Bangert

    Date: 14 Dec, 2023

    I'd like to offer my sincere condolences to Sarah's family, friends and colleagues. Like many others, I was fortunate to know Sarah as a valued, brilliant colleague and a dear friend. Her untimely passing is a devastating loss. 

    As others have shared, Sarah's expertise and contributions to the field were imbued with trademark warmth, enthusiasm and humour. She truly believed in openness and the power of communities, and advocated for these values at every turn. We initially met through project work to support RDA and she became a trusted, supportive voice on matters both professional and personal. 

    Above all, Sarah was kind, generous and inspired good in others. I can think of no higher praise. 


  • Ville Tenhunen's picture

    Author: Ville Tenhunen

    Date: 17 Dec, 2023

    I'm so very sorry to hear these deeply sad news.

    I knew Sarah as a lightful, person who had a good advises and got things done. She was very friendly, caring, nice and helpful person. 

    Sarah will be missed by so many people but also whole communities where she made her mark.

    My thoughts are with her family, friends, and her colleaques.

    Ville / EGI Foundation & Univ. Helsinki

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