Lewis Lancaster, a specialist in the canons of Buddhist texts, was the first student to complete the Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies at the University of Wisconsin. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley, for 33 years, with five years as Chair. By means of a grant from the National Geographic Society, he and a group of students and faculty inventoried texts in monasteries among the Sherpa people in the Himalayas. He then began to research the problems of converting Buddhist texts from Pali and Chinese into computer format, which resulted in major CD ROM databases. That computer experience then led him to form an association of scholars called the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative, which is housed on the Berkeley campus and has a thousand affiliates worldwide. He is now President at Hsilai University in Rosemead.
Professor Lancaster is the founder and Director of the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI). ECAI (www.ecai.org) is promoting worldwide electronic access to quality research data. ECAI is a partnership of technical specialists and the scholarly community dedicated to the support of scholarship through technology. ECAI is building an infrastructure for retrieval of data over the Internet from servers located anywhere in the world. Guided by the paradigm of the historical atlas, research data is indexed by time and place using temporally-enabled Geographic Information Systems software. User queries retrieve and display data in GIS layers on a map-based interface, allowing comparisons across discipline, region, and time.