Bob Bowen formally joined the Coastal Resources Center (CRC) in 1997. While at CRC, Bob worked as the manager of Management and Information Systems (MIS) for the center’s Rhode Island headquarters and field offices. As the Center’s Webmaster, he assessed and coordinated information technology needs and managed general computer services. He was also co-leader of CRC’s knowledge management strategic objective team. For several decades, Bob kept CRC’s systems operational, resolved technical problems, and maintained CRC’s connections with our partners oftentimes across oceans.
During his time as CRC’s manager of Management and Information Systems (MIS), Bob wore many hats and assisted with numerous projects. Bob was an influential figure in the Ghana project for which he oversaw the entire Information Technology office setup in Accra back in 2015. His work enhanced efficiency and improved communications between CRC and the Accra office. Additionally, he assisted the Fisheries Statistical Survey Division of the Fisheries Commission in upgrading their hardware and software systems for fisheries data collection and management and contributions to their skills development. Another notable achievement is Bob’s work with Chris Damon and local consultants to establish a GIS data hub and training center for the Land Use and Spatial Planning Unit in the Central Region and the University of Cape Coast.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has had to adapt to a threat unlike any encountered in recent history. The COVID-19 pandemic acted as an impetus for CRC to adapt and innovate with the changing times. Bob met the challenge head-on and embraced the virtual renaissance. During the COVID extension component of the Ghana SFMP, Bob was instrumental in developing CRC’s ability to innovate within the M&E system, specifically in the use of interactive voice response (IVR) phone polling. Bob was able to implement these systematic changes within a short time frame. Without his support and dedication of time, this may not have been possible. Through his efforts, Bob helped CRC to transition into the modern era of paperless surveys, training the CRC team, local partners and CRC supported students on the adoption of Kobotoolbox technology.
In addition to his many accomplishments, Bob will also be remembered through his connections. Bob is recognized by his CRC colleagues as having a love for information science and knowledge management. This was demonstrated through Bob’s work on the BALANCED project, advocating for a Population Health and Environment approach to USAID programming. Where he, Janet Edmond of Conservation International, and University of Rhode Island student Libby Gladding were allowed to do a fairly sophisticated knowledge management component including topic mapping and social network analysis of the PHE community in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, creating a curated web page with gold standard documents on behalf of the rather tight-knit PHE community. This project presented a significant challenge. Ultimately, the project was successful, and CRC distinguished itself as a capable entity. Additionally, Bob is remembered by his colleagues at CRC as being the office’s resident fisherman. Many of his colleagues fondly recounted Bob’s habit of sharing his catch of the day with everyone at the office. Also, Bob is remembered by CRC’s local and international partners. For example, during his time in Indonesia, the local staff would affectionately refer to him as Bob Bihon, rather than Bob Bowen. Bihon being the stringy white rice noodle, a favorite in many Indonesian and Asian dishes and a reference to how his beard looked in those days. Overall, Bob has personally touched the lives of many of our CRC colleagues and partners and we wish him all the best in his retirement and future fishing endeavors.