Prof. Helena Mitasova was honored with the Sol Katz Award for Geospatial Free and Open Source Software 2010 during the closing plenary of the FOSS4G 2010 conference in Barcelona, Spain. Helena has contributed a variety of methods, algorithms, documentation and tutorials amongst other efforts to the FOSS4G community. Her outstanding contributions date back to 1990 when she started to develop new analytical modules for GRASS GIS. Since then she served on many committees within OSGeo, she is coauthor of the first Open Source GIS book; she published over 50 scientific and academic publications linked to FOSS4G and contributed a rich OSGeo GIS dataset to the community which has become a standard for software testing and teaching. See Helena’s video acceptance.
The Sol Katz Award for Geospatial Free and Open Source Software is awarded annually by OSGeo to individuals who have demonstrated leadership in the GFOSS community. Recipients of the award will have contributed significantly through their activities to advance open source ideals in the geospatial realm. The hope is that the award will both acknowledge the work of community members, and pay tribute to one of its founders, for years to come.
Sol Katz was an early pioneer of GFOSS and left behind a large body of work in the form of applications, format specifications, and utilities. In the early 80’s, Sol assisted in the development of a public domain GIS package called MOSS (Map Overlay and Statistical System). This software was arguably the first open source GIS software in the world. Sol would later go on to release and maintain PC MOSS. He was also one of the first involved in public data translator utilities. Utilities that he developed for converting DEMs and reading SDTS files were contributed back to the geospatial community, and are still available today. Sol was also a frequent contributor to many geospatial list servers, providing much guidance to the geospatial community at large. Sol Katz’s collection of GIS utilities at the BLM is still available at ftp://ftp.blm.gov/pub/gis/. Sadly, after fighting Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for almost a decade, Sol died April 23, 1999 in bed. His legacy will always live on in the GFOSS world.