National Academy of Engineering Elects Esri’s Dawn Wright

GIS Technology Leader’s Chief Scientist Recognized for Ocean Mapping Accomplishments

REDLANDS, Calif.—March 7, 2023—Esri, the global leader in location intelligence, today announced that Dr. Dawn Wright, the company’s chief scientist, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Dr. Wright is being honored by the Academy for her distinguished work applying geographic information system (GIS) technology to ocean science and developing GIS models for the oceans. In addition to her work as chief scientist of Esri, Dr. Wright has been a professor of geography and oceanography at Oregon State University since 1995 and was integral in building the first geospatial data models of the world’s oceans. Having served on the Science Advisory Boards of both NOAA and the EPA, Wright joined Esri in 2011.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by the National Academy of Engineering,” said Wright. “Ocean exploration is impossible without the tools that enable scientific observation and understanding. It’s been my privilege to help build some of the most innovative technologies allowing more insightful environmental data collection, and to be able to work with all the talented people at Esri.”

On July 12, 2022, Wright served as mission specialist for a historic descent nearly 36,000 feet into the Pacific Ocean to capture images and data from the Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the Earth’s ocean. Wright was one of the few individuals—and the first Black person—to visit Challenger Deep, located within the Mariana Trench. The expedition produced an unprecedented series of detailed maps and data from the deepest place on Earth.

“Our technology has always been grounded in science, and Dawn Wright is one of the great scientists that has made our company so special,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and president. “She is both a keen observer of the natural world as well as someone building solutions to help solve some of its biggest challenges.”

Founded in 1964, the NAE is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. Its mission is to advance the welfare and prosperity of the nation by providing independent advice on matters involving engineering and technology, and by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and public appreciation of engineering. NAE membership is one of the highest professional honors accorded an engineer and is determined by current NAE members, including more than 2,000 senior professionals in business, academia, and government who are among the world’s most accomplished engineers. It is the sibling organization of the National Academy of Sciences, to which Wright was elected as a member in 2021.

To view a full list of new members elected to the NAE, visit


About Esri

 Esri, the global market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, location intelligence, and mapping, helps customers unlock the full potential of data to improve operational and business results. Founded in 1969 in Redlands, California, USA, Esri software is deployed in hundreds of thousands of organizations globally, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, nonprofit institutions, and universities. Esri has regional offices, international distributors, and partners providing local support in over 100 countries on six continents. With its pioneering commitment to geospatial technology and analytics, Esri engineers the most innovative solutions that leverage a geographic approach to solving some of the world’s most complex problems by placing them in the crucial context of location. Visit us at

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