Erik Schultes is an evolutionary biologist and a leading FAIR data specialist. Erik’s early academic career focused fundamental research questions in the origin of life and the emergence of structure and function in nucleic acids and proteins. As his research interests became more data-intensive, Erik began to shift his attention towards innovation in scholarly collaboration, advanced data stewardship and data infrastructures. Currently Erik is the FAIR Implementation Lead at the GO FAIR Foundation and Senior Researcher at the Leiden Academic Center for Drug Research at Leiden University, and the Scientific Director at partners in FAIR. Before this, Erik was International Science Coordinator at the GO FAIR International Support and Coordination Office from its inception in 2017 until 2021. In GO FAIR, Erik has been working with a diverse community of stakeholders to develop FAIR data and services. Erik is most known for his leadership role in the development of machine-actionable FAIR Implementation Profiles and scalable approaches to the creation of domain relevant, machine-actionable metadata. Over his career, Erik has worked in both the public and private sectors, holding appointments in the United States at the University of California, Los Angeles (graduate training), The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (postdoctoral training), Duke University and on multiple occasions at The Santa Fe Institute. Since 2010, Erik has been living in the Netherlands, and has held appointments at the Leiden University Medical Center and Leiden Institute for Advanced Computer Science. Erik participates in various scientific advisory boards and is a frequent keynote speaker about FAIR and open science.