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Merit Review Broader Impacts Criterion: Representative Activities

GEO Advisory Committee
Minutes of May 24-25, 1999 Meeting

Committee Members Present:

Dr. Susan Avery, Chair, Director, CIRES, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
Dr. David W. Simpson, Vice Chair, Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, Washington, DC
Dr. Eric J. Barron, Director, Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Dr. Inez Fung, Center for Atmospheric Sciences, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Prof. George M. Hornberger, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Dr. Emi Ito, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Dr. Charles E. Kolb, President, Aerodyne Research, Inc., Billerica, MA
Dr. Margaret Leinen, Dean, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI
Dr. Joseph Pandolfo, retired
Dr. David Schimel, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO
Dr. Denise Stephenson-Hawk, Research Center for Science & Technology, Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA

Members Absent:

Dr. Otis B. Brown, Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami, Miami, FL
Professor Alexandra Navrotsky, Dept. of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science, Univ. of California at Davis
Dr. John Orcutt, Director, IGPP, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA
Dr. Judith Parrish, Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Dr. Sharon L. Smith, Department of Marine Biology and Fisheries-RSMAS, University of Miami, Miami, FL
Dr. Robert M. White, Sr. Fellow, UCAR, Washington, DC

GEO Senior Staff Present:

Dr. Robert Corell, Assistant Director
Dr. Richard A. Behnke, Section Head, Upper Atmosphere Research
Dr. Alan Gaines, Senior Staff Associate
Dr. Richard Greenfield, Division Director, Atmospheric Sciences
Dr. Don Heinrichs, Section Head, Ocean Sciences
Dr. Clifford A. Jacobs, Facilities Coordinator, Atmospheric Sciences
Dr. Ian MacGregor, Senior Staff Associate
Dr. Michael Purdy, Division Director, Ocean Sciences
Dr. Michael Reeve, Section Head, Ocean Sciences
Ms. Vanessa Richardson, Director of Operations and Analysis
Mr. William Smith, Staff Associate for Budget

The spring meeting of the Advisory Committee for Geosciences (AC/GEO) was held May 24-25, 1999, at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA.

Monday, May 24, 1999

Division subcommittees for Atmospheric and Earth sciences met from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. prior to the full AC/GEO meeting.

Welcome and Introductions

The full AC/GEO convened at 10:00 a.m. Dr. Susan Avery, Chair, welcomed everyone and introductions were made around the table. The agenda and actions items for the meeting were reviewed.

The Academic Research Fleet Review

In response to a request by the National Science Board (NSB), Dr. Robert Corell formed a Fleet Review Committee, which operated under GEO. The Committee was asked to:

  • Review and evaluate the current and projected research vessel fleet required for research sponsored by NSF;

  • Review and evaluate the overall management structure for the Academic Research Fleet, existing capabilities and future changes in the fleet to ensure optimal operations in support of research requirements; and

  • Provide recommended actions by NSF to improve the organization, management, and cost effective operation of the Academic Research Fleet in support of scientific capabilities required to maintain world leadership in ocean and environmental science research.

Dr. Roland Schmitt, NSB member, chaired the Fleet Review Committee and Dr. Steve Ramberg, ONR, was a member. The two provided an overview of the May 1999 report of the Committee to Dr. Corell. A brief review of the Fleet was provided. In addition, the eight principal findings and recommendations of the Committee were reviewed:

  1. There is presently an under-utilization of the fleet.

  2. NSF must accelerate and expand efforts within the oceanographic research community to articulate a broadly based vision for the future of ocean sciences and technology requirements.

  3. The UNOLS system should be retained. The NSF-UNOLS current practices, using institutional operators funded by NSF and other federal agencies with centralized scheduling, seems to provide excellent access to the sea for US investigators. To the extent it was possible to assess, the costs appear comparable to or better than government operators, and not evidently different from costs of contracting commercial platforms.

  4. The funding agencies and UNOLS need to support fleet improvements by enhancing quality control, expanding training of personnel in technical and safety procedures, and developing higher standards for shared use facilities.

  5. NSF should continue the practice of periodically competing the management of the UNOLS office, and should consider funding it by a cooperative agreement rather than a grant to ensure necessary management oversight.

  6. NSF was asked to consider a trial project that includes some commercial operators participating as UNOLS non-member operators to provide unique capabilities not otherwise available.

  7. There is a need for a strong, continuing program of new technology introduction; steady improvement of existing facilities and technologies; greater, continuing attention to quality control and safety and a more systematic, standard approach to maintenance, renovation, upgrading, and replacement.

  8. The Federal agencies funding research in oceanography should prepare and maintain a long-range plan for the modernization and composition of the oceanographic research fleet that reaches well into the 21st Century. This will avoid the high cost of obsolescent facilities and provide the Congress with a unified roadmap for out-year allocations for vessels to support oceanographic research.

The full report was provided in the meeting notebook. Dr. Corell noted that this AC/GEO subcommittee was formed to provide a venue for operation under ex-facto rules. Why is the NSF asking for this review? Dr. Corell noted that this is a substantial investment over a long period of time. The NSB wants to have periodic reassurances that they have not missed opportunities or lost sight of some of the difficulties that might be buried in the process. This type of review makes for a stronger program. GEO is delighted with the work of this panel.

The AC/GEO discussed the under-utilization of the fleet. If this were a temporary situation, would it be possible to try some innovative things that might address education? For example, NSF could request proposals for K-12 teachers, undergraduates, or graduates at non-traditional oceanographic institutions for use of a ship. Dr. Barron had the experience of taking sixteen K-12 teachers on the Oceanus. They had to work while on the ship -doing Boeing nets to box cores. He felt this helped to change their attitudes about the oceans and what they were like. The teachers were required to give two workshops and teach the materials in their own workshop. It was suggested that funding for such an activity might be available in collaboration with EHR.

Dr. Schmitt noted that there is an opportunity for substantially improving quality and effectiveness of operations. Though 95% of research takes place as planned, the remaining 5% affected by problems with operations is a concern. Dr. Michael Purdy, GEO, noted the distinction between planning for the future of the sciences and making predictions of what the ship use will be. GEO is undergoing a 2-3 year process of looking at the sciences. There is a committee in place that is putting together a report of the vision of the most exciting prospects in ocean sciences for the next decade. This should be complete by the end of the calendar year. The group has also been asked to look at key infrastructure requirements for these science activities. A separate, and more difficult, prediction concerns budget levels. That activity needs to be focused in the interagency discussions whereby the key agencies plan what the research fleet should look like in the next 5-10 years.

Other issues discussed included:

  • Funded proposals drive the utilization of the ships. At present, all funded projects can be supported.

  • There is public access to ship scheduling, but not a central data library for research results. Researchers are to provide data to the national data centers within 1-2 years of completing their research.

  • Within the community, it is felt that researchers are actively discouraged from submitting proposals to EHR for use of ship time and ship tools in the education of K-12. GEO may want to address this issue with EHR.

  • AC/GEO members appreciated the Fleet Review Committee's stand that 95% success was not good enough and to strive for a 99% success rate.

The AC/GEO concluded they would draft a letter to Dr. Corell, receiving the Academic Fleet Review report and perhaps highlighting suggestions and discussions for GEO. Dr. Schmitt noted appreciation of the support provided by Dr. Don Heinrichs, GEO, in conducting the review and preparing the report. Dr. Corell thanked Dr. Schmitt for his role and the Committee's role in putting together the report. GEO will take the recommendations seriously and move toward their implementation.

Issues of Interest to the AC/GEO

Dr. Robert Corell, Assistant Director, GEO, presented an overview of activities in GEO and the NSF. The NSF FY 2000 budget request has been presented to Congress with an overall proposed increase for NSF of 5.8%. Within the total NSF budget, GEO is proposed to receive a 2.6% increase. Three initiatives within NSF are key: Information Technology for the 21st Century (IT2), Biocomplexity in the Environment; and the Science and Technology Workforce. Within GEO, the budget is about 60% for research, 35% for facilities, less than 5% for education, and less than 5% for management. Dr. Corell encouraged AC/GEO members to talk to people who influence the budget process.

The FY2001 budget is the first NSF budget that the Director, Dr. Rita Colwell, has been a part of from the beginning. There has been a good deal of time spent in planning the program underpinnings of this budget. NSF held a retreat to focus on opportunities and unmet opportunities. Dr. Corell reviewed some of the activities the Board and NSF senior staff have undertaken in the process of developing this budget. The budget report will be available on the Web once it has been approved.

Dr. Corell presented an overview of the GEO 2000 Vision Statement. The goal of NSF's Geosciences in the decade ahead is for "an agenda that supports the highest quality research, strengthens the national scientific capabilities and improves Geoscience-related education." The FY 2000 "Our Changing Planet" publication provides overarching perspectives for the decade ahead to include:

  • Broaden and advance the Earth sciences research agenda to embrace the whole system, its dynamics, interaction, and connectivity to human activities;

  • Study systematically how these interactions constrain or are constrained by human socio-economic systems and their effects; and

  • Organize in ways that will ensure, nationally and internationally, the capacity of the scientific community to deliver, on a continuing basis, quality information that is essential to informed decisions.

Five objectives will guide the GEO program:

  • Determine the origins, rates and likely future course of natural and anthropogenic changes

  • Set global change research in a multiple stress context

  • Understand and model global environmental change and its processes on finer spatial scales, and across a wide range of time scales

  • Address the potential for surprises and abrupt change

  • Understand and assess major consequences

Six program elements focus the FY 2000 GEO program in Our Changing Planet:

  • Understanding the Earth's Climate System

  • Biology and Biochemistry of Ecosystems

  • Composition and Chemistry of the Atmosphere

  • Paleo-environment/climate

  • Human Dimensions of Change

  • The Global Water Cycle

One addition to the Global Change activities in the FY 2000 budget was the introduction of the US/GCRP Carbon Cycle Initiative, with $50M of new money proposed to facilitate this program. NSF would play a role.

Dr. Alan Gaines has a new role in the areas of Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Data and Information. New commercial remote sensing systems will have the capability to provide images with detail to one meter. NSF is having discussions with the CIA to see whether commercial systems that operate at this level of detail can be coupled with past U.S. intelligence efforts.

GEO and OPP collaborate on the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) project, which is a joint program among NSF, the Navy, Canada and Japan. Experiments have been conducted from October 1997 to October 1998. Preliminary data, which is being finalized, provides the ability to see a fairly detailed resolution of the Arctic Ocean surface for many meters. Data should be available at the EROS center when it is completed.


The AC/GEO members discussed the U.S. Global Change carbon initiative. The understanding is that it focuses on sources and sinks in the carbon cycle. Are there other issues that should be included in the research? Dr. Fung noted that the title was a struggle. Carbon Sciences was deliberately chosen over Carbon Cycle and engineering was deliberately left out of the title. The language pertains to development of a capability to monitor/reduce emissions in an effort to define a scope that could be accomplished.

One AC/GEO member raised a concern about the budget process. It appears that NSF waits until the large agencies are funded (HUD, VA), then NSF negotiates for what is left. If there are cuts, there might not be anything left for NSF. Dr. Corell responded that Dr. Colwell is meeting with the Assistant Directors to discuss ways NSF can position itself to keep science on the national agenda.

Water Cycle and Environmental Change and Health are also emergent themes within Global Change. Dr. Corell noted that there would be an interagency announcement for a modest level of Water Cycle research. NIH has been a marginal player as well in the area of environmental health.

Dr. Corell asked Dr. Tom Pyle, Head, Arctic Section, Office of Polar Programs (OPP), to provide an update on the issue of arctic logistics. An increase in the arctic budget has allowed for increased research support. There is an announcement out for "Long-term Observations in the Arctic: Environmental Observatories, Improvements in Instrumentation and Improvements in Infrastructure." OPP recruited for a full-time Logistics Manager and will also be recompeting the Arctic Logistics support contract (PICO). Funding was also allocated to start an Arctic Contaminants program with a focus on the science aspects of this issue.

AC/GEO Members Science Topics

The AC/GEO has a tradition of having outgoing members present their views. Professor George Hornberger was asked to share his priority science topics. He noted a recently published report from a workshop in Albuquerque on hydrology that covers many of his points. Issues can be broken into different environments (i.e., shallow groundwater, deep groundwater). There are also many interactions between these various "environments" and other science areas. Many fields include an aspect of hydrology. Spatial scale issues are important in hydrology, from a measurement perspective - how to scale up to larger land and heterogeneity of land. Issues of time scales are also important. Storm events have time scales of minutes to hours, while other areas may have time scales from centuries to millennia.

Topics of interest in the workshop included Climate Interactions, Nutrient Spiraling in Streams, Non-Linear Mathematics, and Understanding Surprises or Abrupt Changes. One of the recommendations that will come out of the workshop is for an observatory to provide a stable, long-term observing system to cover the full range of processes. Dr. Corell noted that as a result of this workshop, Dr. Douglas James/EAR organized a meeting to encourage NSF to look at all the elements of water. There has been a good effort to respond to this. He asked the group to help provide descriptions of the scope and activity of the enterprise. In response to Dr. Corell's question as to the scale of the observatory, Dr. Hornberger noted there are several issues: can you do it with a localized observatory or do you have to distribute it such as with LTER? If distributed, what can you do in a distributed sense? At the very least the scale has to be the atmospheric boundary level - kilometers. In response to the comment that university structures inhibit or create problems for tackling a research agenda on water, Dr. Hornberger responded that, in his view, the university structures will change to deal with multi-environment issues.

Education and Diversity

Drs. Ian MacGregor and Denise Stephenson-Hawk provided an update on the activities of the working group on Education and Diversity. Dr. Stephenson-Hawk noted that the community has been talking about education and diversity for many years. In May 1999, a workshop was held to identify possibilities for "Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences." The workshop focused on the purpose of the group, a review of diversity programs that work, GPRA and diversity, diversity and the legal system, and geosciences statistics. Members of the working group included representatives from research universities, minority and minority serving universities, historically black colleges, NASA, NOAA, NSF, USGS, AGI, AGU, and students. There was a broad representation of ideas. Two subgroups were formed to discuss 1) infrastructure and faculty incentives and 2) collaborations and the National Science Education Standards (K-12). A preliminary report was distributed to the AC/GEO members along with a copy of the agenda and questions that the groups discussed.

The workshop made six recommendations:

  1. The overall goal should be to achieve increased numbers of minority undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees in areas of geosciences resulting in an increased population of professional minority geoscientists.

  2. Partnerships among minority and research institutions of higher education, government agencies, professional organizations, businesses and community groups should be formed for the purpose of achieving the overall goal.

  3. An initiative on "Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences [OEDG]" should be developed and made available to the community. It was decided that grades 10- 2nd year of graduate school would offer the opportunity for the greatest impact. Any institution willing to accept the challenge could participate. The characteristics of this initiative were identified as:

    • Duration of up to ten years

    • Range of funding

    • Address the pipeline pyramid with focus on Grade 10 through 2nd year of graduate school

    • Include cascading mentoring program

    • Flexible program designs

    • Sustained after NSF funding has ended

    • Collaborations with existing NSF initiatives

  4. Provide a supplementary award for existing programs to implement strategies to achieve the overall goal. Additional funding of up to 10% could be negotiated for this.

  5. Program officers should be sensitized to the need to convene review panels that understand issues of diversity and the need to support curriculum and capacity-building infrastructure development at minority institutions as a means of sustaining the minority pipeline of students.

  6. GEO programs should provide the data needed to quantify the participation of minorities. Data should be collected from a number of sources and existing programs with a clear template on how to present the numbers.


Several members asked why the group decided to start the new initiative with grade 10 and felt that this age might be too late to make the biggest impact. The working group wanted to define a target population within which they would see an impact in the next five years. For younger students (K-9), partnerships with other programs, such as teacher enhancement programs, could be done to ensure the geosciences content would reach students. One suggestion was not to tie the initiative to a grade, but to the school system's science track (some teach geosciences in 8th grade, others in 9th grade).

One member supported the idea, but asked what activities would be supported with funds. Dr. Stephenson-Hawk responded that the group envisioned development of innovative curricula, using technology to advance student motivation, heightening student awareness in research programs through tutoring, and having students mentor other students. They also talked about infrastructure development at minority institutions with a host of ways to achieve the goal. A longer report will be available to focus on some of these specific questions.

The project would have a regional scope with an investment in infrastructure needed to maintain systemic reform in the pipeline. It would be similar to the MIE programs with a ten-year potential investment and the desire to be self- sustaining at the completion of the grant period.

The group talked about NSF summer study programs for high school students as having an impact in the past. Dr. Stephenson-Hawk noted that there is not a program with a focus on geosciences. The group stressed a need for a long-term institutional commitment to a program to create "Centers for Commitment."

The in-depth report will be distributed in 6-8 weeks. There was general support for the approach described by Dr. Stephenson-Hawk. Dr. Kolb noted that the other "proof" of what works is to ask people whom you want students to emulate how they got where they are - perhaps it would be good to survey prominent scientists. Dr. Hawk noted that mentoring is fundamental.

Dr. Avery noted that the AC/GEO would recommend that the GEO directorate think about how they would implement this and what budget would be necessary. How can they make an impact that can be quantified and measured?

Issues for the Director

Dr. Avery asked the AC/GEO to identify issues to be raised with Dr. Colwell. Topics identified included:

  • The role of NSF in the environmental sciences area and an update on the NSB review and how NSF will handle the recommendations in the report.

  • The Biocomplexity initiative has created some confusion in the community as to what it is. NSF should more clearly define biocomplexity.

  • How can the funding from broad national and NSF initiatives funnel back down to the working level?

  • What is the status of the Assistant Director's position within GEO and with the two Division Director positions that will become vacant? Focus on process and timing - process of transition for the Directorate, not just for the position. Don't see transition period/process in place.

  • What are the plans for NSF's 50th Anniversary celebration?

  • Staffing is still an issue.

Visit from the NSF Director, Dr. Rita Colwell

Dr. Avery welcomed Dr. Colwell and introduced the AC/GEO members. Dr. Colwell thanked the AC members for their time, advice and input. As the FY2001 initiatives and future budgets are developed, feedback is more important in the five-year plan. Dr. Colwell asked for assistance in the FY2001 budget request. The caps are playing a significant role with a $5 M deficit that will be distributed among a few agencies. The VA/HUD budgets are at high risk. Congress needs to know that the all-science budgets greatly contribute to the strength of the economy. A better case needs to be made. It would be helpful if science groups would rally together and speak out on behalf of science. It makes no sense, in a year when there is a budget surplus, that no money would go back into what is generating the surplus.

A summary of issues noted by Dr. Colwell follow.

  • The Environmental Task Force is doing a rather heroic job and has received many comments from the community. There will be a report of their findings available by the July Board meeting. The Task Force is working from a very broad perspective and it does know the difference between environment and ecology. The report will not have a narrow focus.

  • The definitions for Biocomplexity are various. It is not simply biodiversity or ecological modeling. It is all of that embedded in what the environment of the planet offers. The April 9 issue of Science gave a definition that nicely describes how poised all the disciplines are. The Biocomplexity initiative fits into the OMB/OSTP focus on the environment.

  • The Information Technology for the 21st Century initiative can be very empowering for the geosciences. There is a wrong assumption that the IT funds in the CISE directorate are only for computer sciences. This is not at all true. Funds are there only for management, but are available to all parts of NSF for information technology/infrastructure needs. The $10 M targeted for computer-human interface research is being jointly developed with SBE/GEO/CISE. Dr. Colwell stressed that the funding needs to be guaranteed first, before the Directorates within NSF can decide what role they can play. The IT initiative is an empowerment of all of the sciences.

  • The new cost-sharing policy addresses the ability of smaller institutions to deal with cost sharing. Members were asked to talk to Joe Kull if they had questions.

  • The International Task Force has met twice. The AC/GEO would have a good opportunity to represent the geoscience community at the next hearing.

  • One of the key roles of the advisory committees at NSF is in making sure that criteria and goals of GPRA are appropriate for a research-mission agency and to make sure that NSF meet those goals - feedback is important.

  • We need to make a very strong case for a much larger budget for the NSF. There are insufficient funds to pursue the legitimate needed research. Dr. Colwell has requested suggestions of missed opportunities (areas that have not been funded). NSF's budget is small compared to other mission agencies ($4B compared to $15B) . There is a need to get the Congressional and citizen mind-set to understand the critical importance of this investment.


Dr. Kolb asked how NSF would deal with the recommendations of the Environmental Task Force. Dr. Colwell noted that NSF has not been waiting to determine how to handle interdisciplinary proposals. They know they need to do business differently and will need to look at different criteria for interdisciplinary proposals. Though it is not clear how NSF will do this, several suggestions have been made and several may be implemented.

Dr. Leinen commented that the Biocomplexity initiative helped people realize how widespread it is, but within the community, there is confusion on what this means. The group discussed the difficulty in making sure the definition is inclusive while at the same time, being specific enough so that it is manageable. Also discussed was how such an initiative will be implemented within NSF to get the research back to the practical science level, which is discipline- based. Dr. Colwell noted that the BIO directorate has written a definition for Biocomplexity, which will be put on the Web for comments. She shared the definition with the group. She also added that NSF is putting together a list of the kinds of things that need to be done within the Foundation to keep the disciplines strong and empower multi- disciplinary initiatives.

Dr. Colwell briefly reviewed some of the plans for the NSF 50th Anniversary celebration. ABC Television will have sound bites during the Saturday morning children's programs and Parade magazine will host a contest for children. In addition, a story was done on the class of 1952 -- the first graduate fellowships and post docs from NSF. To some, two of the most important actions taken by Congress in this century were the GI Bill and the creation of NSF. The actual anniversary date is December 10, 2000. One suggestion was to tie in the 50th Anniversary with building a case for additional funding for NSF by looking at each Congressional district and identifying how NSF-funded research helped that district. In the end, this is very personal and it would provide a very personal reason for Congress to favor NSF. Dr. Colwell noted that that was the second time that day she heard that suggestion. It has been suggested to document where S&T senators and S&T centers are located.

Dr. Ito asked that cost sharing be specified in announcements. Dr. Colwell responded that NSF has stipulated that in competitions, cost sharing has to be stated up front and not negotiated down the road.

In response to Dr. Avery's request for an update on staffing, Dr. Colwell noted that staffing is critical. NSF is proud of their low overhead, but they have an overworked staff. They did get a 5% increase in the FY99 budget and again in the FY00 budget in the Salary & Expenses account. Another increase will be requested. NSF has worked to increase access to funds for Program Managers for travel. They are addressing staffing issues in a very serious way.

Dr. Avery stated that GEO is faced with the situation of having the Assistant Director position and Earth Sciences and Atmospheric Sciences positions open. What is the process and timing of conducting searches to fill these positions? What mechanisms are in place to look at transition? The group would like to avoid interim Directors or positions. Dr. Colwell noted that Dr. Susan Solomon is the Chair of the search committee. They have an extraordinary list of candidates and she does not anticipate they will have interim positions. NSF is adhering to their policy of the five-year rule; rotation is important and has contributed to the strength of science.

Dr. Avery thanked Dr. Colwell for meeting with the AC.

Reflection on Director's Comments

The AC/GEO members commented that the Earth's role in biocomplexity was not completely reflected in Dr. Colwell's comments. They also talked about the challenges in getting traditional disciplines to address such interdisciplinary issues. One suggestion was more frequent meetings between the Advisory Committee chairs as a way to help facilitate multi-disciplinary efforts. There is a need to develop a community of scientists that understand the complexity of such initiatives and can work together with a bigger focus. Along with integration of science, integration of funds is important.

NSF 50th Anniversary Plans

Mr. Bill Line, NSF Office of Legislative and Public Affairs, presented the four components of the plans for the NSF 50th Year Anniversary:

  1. A public advisory committee has been formed with 18 members and a charge/mission to create a celebration that is memorable, worthy and fitting of the Foundation.

  2. The National Science Board (NSB) will post notice of a contest in the September 19, 1999, issue of Parade magazine. This will be a challenge to all American youth to form teams of 3-5 people, select a mentor, identify a local problem and apply a science solution to that problem. The first deadline is January 2000, by which time they have to communicate the problem and solution. Hillary Clinton will be sent a letter along with details of the challenge in the hope for an award ceremony with the White House. NSF has also been spearheading efforts for a series of stories/editorial placements in Discover magazine and ABC Television will produce 14 interstitial pieces - 90 seconds aired on Saturday mornings for one year (targeted to 8-12 year olds).

  3. Internally, NSF will have a staff celebration. They are distributing lapel pins to panels, employees, etc. In June, an annual awards ceremony will kick off the NSF events. Banners will be displayed outside the building for 18 months. In addition, there will be a Web forum for staff with historical photos of employees and taped interviews.

  4. External events are still in the planning stages. A formal application has been sent to the White House for participation in a "millenium evening" with the Clintons. If accepted, the evening at the White House would include a small number of people - Nobel laureates, grantees, etc., who would brief the President and Vice President on the contributions that science has made to the public and betterment of life and the return of the U.S. investment. The day of this event would also include activities such as presentations in local public schools and a symposium for NSF staff.

Mary Bullock, Office of Legislative and Public Affairs, encouraged the AC/GEO to think of other groups to celebrate science and technology in the year 2000. Everyone's participation is welcomed. AC members can encourage their organizations to write articles for their journals, post suggestions on the Web, etc. They should encourage lectures and symposia to highlight future possibilities in addition to past achievements.

The group encouraged NSF not to hold back and noted the goal is to increase awareness within the American public of science's contributions to society. Ideas can be sent to Bill Line at (703) 306-1070 or wline@nsf.gov.

GPRA Performance Plan

Mr. Will Smith and Ms. Melissa Lane, GEO, fielded questions from the AC/GEO members concerning the mock GPRA Performance Review that was provided in the meeting notebook. The report was intended to provide a "flavor" of the actual report for FY1999 and was not complete, but reflected the "state of affairs" in GEO for FY1998. In general the AC/GEO felt the mock report was a good summary of what GEO was doing, but the descriptions of research needed to be more concrete. There is a need to convey the enthusiasm or dismay of the original COV review. GEO needs to be careful in the process of summarizing, not to dilute the impact of the science. The COV's will play an important role in providing the information that is used for the FY1999 GPRA Performance Review, and the importance of the COV review needs to be stressed. GEO was encouraged to use more metrics in the report, such as how many marine science programs, how many minority scholarships, etc. Depending on the audience, more pictures and graphs should also be included, particularly if the report will go to Congress. Guidance was requested from GEO on understanding the audience for the GPRA Performance Report.. Dr. Corell responded that NSF has been granted the opportunity to use an alternative assessment process. They are trying to do a GPRA review that is reasonably connected to the community, without it being an onerous task on the community. This is an incredible opportunity because OMB and Congress will be the major recipients of the document - if it can be done well, it is likely to help NSF. NSF is trying very hard to use this in a constructive, positive way. For some, this may be their "window" into the Foundation.

Dr. Avery adjourned the meeting at 5:16 p.m. A working dinner was planned.

Tuesday, May 25, 1999

The AC/GEO reconvened at 8:10 a.m. Subcommittee reports were presented.

Subcommittee Reports

Atmospheric Sciences (ATM)

Dr. Joe Pandolfo presented a summary of the ATM subcommittee meeting. Dr. Greenfield presented The FY 2000 budget, which included an increase of $4M in infrastructure for the renovation of the Mesa building at NCAR. The overall budget for the Division remained about the same. HAIPER and the Polar Cap Observatory (PCO) were put on hold, but it is assumed that they might still receive funding. The PCO has been renamed the Relocatable Atmospheric Observatory (RAO). The Congressional objection was to a major facility that would be stationed in Canada instead of in the U.S. The RAO concept would have three fairly lightweight arrays, without a turret, so it could be moved around. This seemed to satisfy the political opposition. This change in design resulted in a modest increase in cost, but allows for more flexibility. The first deployment (in 2002) will be in Alaska at a site for auroral studies with optical telescope equipment as well. In 2003, the equipment will be moved to the geomagnetic pole for several years, and then it will be used for a pole-to-equator array (2005-2006). The group is optimistic that this plan will be approved and a budget put in place.

Two gaps in atmospheric research include the measurements of gases and other pollutants. With NASA dropping out of such support, it really reduces the capabilities of universities for instrumentation development and observations studies and could create a deficiency in experimental atmospheric science in the future. Another substantial study area is the topographic effect of rain forests on precipitation. This may be an area where additional funding should be sought.

Dr. Greenfield announced his upcoming retirement and requested nominations for the position to be forwarded to GEO.

The ATM Upper Atmosphere COV will be August 11-12, 1999, with Dr. Avery as Chair. This will be the first COV to participate in the GPRA Performance Report.

Earth Sciences (EAR)

Dr. George Hornberger noted that Dr. Zimmerman, Acting Division Director, presented the GEO 2000 issues. The Paleontology, Sedimentology and Quaternary Studies Group had a working group that prepared a report. Dr. Doug James talked about the Water Cycle initiative. The Earth Scope Paper was distributed, proposing an MRE with four phases. The report is exciting. The group is very impressed with the energy that has gone into the Earth Scope project. There are three Academy panels working on EAR related issues: the science of earthquakes; future opportunities in the earth sciences; and the hydrological cycle. The group also discussed issues related to staffing. EAR has a new staff person, Sonja Esperanza. There are two open FTEs for Program Officers in the Division. Any suggested names for the Division Director search committee should be presented to Dr. Corell.

Ocean Sciences

The Ocean Sciences subcommittee met informally and focused on the Academic Fleet Report. They had two new AC members, who will not be able to participate until the next meeting.

Action Item List Review

Dr. Leinen commented that in a discussion with a former AC/GEO member, the observation was made that people who rotate off the Committee often don't know the outcome of some of the things they have worked hard on. She suggested creating an e-mail list of former members so that GEO could keep them informed of AC/GEO activities for a year or so after they rotate off. Dr. Corell asked Susan Henson to set up a list, going back a few years, of former members who wanted to maintain contact with the AC/GEO and who could help with the transition.

Dr. Avery reviewed the action items for the AC members:

  1. Cover letter for Facilities plan (done)

  2. Cover letter for the Academic Fleet Report (Drs. Barron and Leinen) (done)

  3. Letter to Dr. Corell to include the following points:

    • The Education and Diversity Report is on track and provides good opportunities for the GEO program. The GEO Directorate should work to develop implementation strategies. The importance of a 10-year or longer commitment (rather than 2-3 year cycle) should be emphasized. Need to strive for parity in relation to other sciences or parity in relation to the national demographics.

    • Reiterate using the ocean ship time when available for education programs - phrase this as an opportunity and seek some additional funding or joint funding for this. (Barron)

    • In support of the new NSF interdisciplinary initiatives, the AC/GEO would make a recommendation that there be liaison with other advisory committees - SBE, BIO, CISE and OPP were specifically mentioned.

    • The GPRA mock Performance Report should have more concrete examples, highlight COVs that lead the GPRA review, and have more graphics/pictures. The AC/GEO will take responsibility for working with GEO staff to make sure the right vignettes are highlighted in the right content, etc.

    • Comment on staffing issues in EAR and encourage GEO to move forward in filling program officer positions. Recommendations for the panel should be solicited from AC.

    • Second e-mail list - to keep former members informed.

    • NSF's 50th Anniversary celebration may be an opportunity for GEO to take a leadership role.

    • Endorse the GEO 2000 vision statement.

  4. Letter to Rita Colwell to include the following points:

    • Cost Sharing issue - in implementation, be specific that announcements must specify percentage up front.

    • Directorate-wide GPRA - reviewed and GEO was given further recommendations for their next report.

    • Biocomplexity and Other Initiatives- The AC/GEO is encouraged by the firm statement that these are not directorate-based programs but are to work across boundaries and the AC/GEO is willing to be supportive in any way -GEO accepts the challenge. Commend Dr. Colwell for recognizing the management challenge and encourage her to look for an innovative solution - significant change in way proposals are handled.

    • Reiterate staffing concern - thank her for her work and effort in attempts to alleviate workload - pressing for resources, problem still needs to be fixed.

    • Solicit ideas from all and get comments to international task force (three AC/GEO members, Dr. Avery, Dr. Simpson, Dr. John Orcutt will volunteer to appear at the hearing. State in letter that they will follow up.


Dr. Russ Davis from Scripps Institution was introduced to present an update on the CLIVAR (Climate Variability) panel activities. CLIVAR is an internationally organized group of projects related to Climate Variability - from seasonal to interannual variability (such as ENSO and other phenomena), decadal time-scales, and anthropogenic secular and abrupt/rapid climate change. The CLIVAR science steering group has begun to establish expert panel groups in several areas:

  • Climate processes over the Americas (CLIVAR adopted the PACTS working group and transitioned them into an interagency implementation panel)

  • Pacific Ocean Sector

  • Seasonal to interannual prediction in a global way

  • Anthropogenic secular and rapid climate change

The five-year vision for the U.S. CLIVAR program is to:

  • Expanded Seasonal-to Interannual Prediction (beyond ENSO)

  • Establish a 15-year ocean analysis product (1998-2012)

  • Develop a plausible hypothesis for Abrupt Climate Change in the Past

  • Explain the recent multi-decade trend in the Arctic Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation (attribution)

  • Assessment of predictability of decadal climate variability

  • Assessment of predictability of regional climate variability

  • An assessment of the anthropogenically forced climate change and its relationship to the natural patterns of internal variability present and future

  • Global Climate Observing System

  • Model Diagnosis and Develop Teams

  • Help shape a National Climate Services for Climate Assessments and Predictions

Priorities for CLIVAR include:

  • A strategy for developing accurate Surface Flux data sets

  • Ocean State Estimation - to provide a whole-ocean gridded analysis product for studying the ocean processes in climate variability, and for providing initial conditions required for Seasonal-to-Interannual climate prediction and for the purpose of identifying model problems and improving the models

  • Subtropical interaction in the SE Ocean

  • Determining the impact of anomalies of sea ice and extra-tropical sea surface temperatures (SST) on the atmosphere

Dr. Davis noted the group is struggling with defining and identifying the scope of the anthropogenic area. They are discussing the idea of creating teams from the academic community to be involved at a greater level. Though organized in a very disciplined-based way, the group anticipates that through the scientists, connections will be made to other disciplines.

Facilities Long-Range Plan

Dr. Michael Purdy provided an update on the GEO Facilities Long-Range Plan. It is in the clearance cycle at NSF and should be completed in the next few weeks. Dr. Kolb asked whether the comments and feedback from the AC met GEO's expectations and needs. Dr. Purdy remarked that the number of constructive comments encouraged GEO. The most difficult part was having contradictory pieces of input and the fundamental issue of how specific the Plan should be. GEO is the only Directorate that has developed a facilities/science plan. The AC/GEO encouraged GEO to push forward for approval of the document and to make sure it gets distributed to the community.

National Science Board International Task Force

Dr. Avery introduced Dr. Frances Li, the Executive Secretary of the National Science Board's (NSB) International Task Force. Dr. Li works in the INT office at NSF. The International Task Force was created in March 1999. They have had two meetings and are in the information-gathering phase for the next year. Dr. Li reviewed the charge to the Task Force. Tasks were identified for sciences and technology in the international context and for the NSF role in the international science and engineering research and education area.

The working principles of the Task Force are to:

  • Include developing country aspects throughout

  • Think "outside the box"

  • Include a broad range of perspectives (want to hear contrary points of view, broad groups represented, etc.)

The provisional work plan is to produce a report for the NSB by May 2000. A hearing will be held on July 30 and two more in September-October. Draft recommendations would be made in the winter with a draft report in early Spring 2000. Dr. Li shared the list of NSB Task Force members. A range of fields, industry and geographic locations were represented. Dr. Li asked to hear from the AC/GEO on thoughts, issues and best practices. The Task Force is interested in issues, frustrations, and models to be commended. Examples shared by the AC/GEO included:

  • Dr. Leinen suggested the Ocean Drilling Program has been a very successful international collaboration and the Task Force should hear from individuals currently involved or proposers for that program. An emerging issue is the international call for ocean observing systems.

  • Dr. Barron added that data and data sharing should be very prominent issues. A comparison of the World Climate Research Programme efforts and the International Geosphere/Biosphere Programme was suggested to identify lessons learned and models.

  • Dr. Ito expressed frustration for a project with Eastern African Lakes (IDEAL). There is no adequate way to fund students from Africa who want to study in the U.S. These are non-U.S. citizens who often don't have the English language skills to be teaching assistants.

  • Dr. Kolb noted a major new intellectual challenge is the role of the developing nations and the mega-cities and their impact on the environment. Several groups are establishing programs to study these impacts. The challenge of sending students into remote areas in the developing world is new for researchers.

  • Dr. Pandolfo mentioned that one of the best examples of international collaboration is in the European Community, with observational weather forecasting and climate research. The technical and scientific problems of establishing relationships with Latin America and South America have not been fully overcome. The model the Europeans have established for information interchange and management could suggest ways to develop this in the Western Hemisphere.

  • Dr. Fung talked about the gap between global observing systems. It is difficult to be involved in these experiments (for example, the LBA experiment) and in Africa it will be even more difficult. Experience from Brazil suggests a scientist was needed from Brazil. How should research be approached in Africa where collaboration has not been formed? One way to think "outside the box" would be to establish partnerships with the churches in Africa, as they are more stable than the governments.

  • Dr. Stephenson-Hawk asked about cross-agency collaboration. There are some agreements with Africa at the Vice President level, which were initiated through NOAA.

  • Dr. Simpson described a contrast between global and international science. Geosciences is a global science, but is really interested in the international aspects - there is a subtle difference.

  • There are international programs (i.e., AID, World Bank) in which the NSF researcher gets caught in limits on funding sources because of restrictions of these agencies (i.e., developing agencies can fund infrastructure, but not collaborative research). NSF may see a request for funding for infrastructure and think they don't need research dollars. NSF can help to develop a process that helps partner and develop those linkages.

Dr. Avery noted that this provided a flavor of the group's international experiences. Dr. Li said written suggestions should be forwarded to the International Task Force. Dr. Avery suggested that there be an AC/GEO subgroup formed to put suggestions in writing and also to offer to come to a hearing, if appropriate. It would be helpful to have a list, in some detail, of the kinds of problems encountered when trying to do research in developing countries. Dr. Avery added that the AC/GEO would like to participate in any Task Force recommendations - it is an important issue for geosciences.

Information Technology for the 21st Century (IT2) Initiative

Dr. Corell introduced Dr. Ruzena Bajczy, the Assistant Director for Computer Information Sciences and Engineering (CISE). President Clinton and Vice President Gore proposed a $366 M increase in the Government's investment in IT R&D. The compelling reasons posed for these increased funds were displayed. Federal funding for research helps create the human resources that drive the IT revolution. Approximately 60% of the funds will go to universities. The distribution of the proposed budget by agency and areas was shown (Fundamental Information Technology Research; Advanced Computing for S&E and the Nation; Ethical, Legal and Social Implications; and Workforce Programs). Agencies include DOD, DOE, NASA, NIH, NOAA, and NSF. NSF is targeted for $146M in FY 2000.

IT2 is built on a firm foundation of previous and current programs in the Government. With a large information technology industry, why is there a need for the Federal Government to fund this? The industry has short-term support with pressure to get things on the market; the Federal Government's focus is on long-term solutions so a government-funded plan will have many benefits such as improved quality.

Dr. Bajczy wanted to convey the message that in the future, the science disciplines will have greater overlap. Fundamental long-term IT2 research is thematic, it is not division- or directorate-bound or confined within an agency.

Goals for IT2 software:

  • Increase productivity, reduce fragility, strengthen security, and build adaptivity and flexibility.

  • Human-computer interaction and information management - How do we use information technology? How do we find out what we want to know?

  • High-end computing - deals with hardware, data visualization, software and development tools. The goal of high-end is to advance the state of the art.

  • Terascale Acquisition - in cooperation with DOE, NSF has requested $36 M in the FY2000 budget. A joint NSF-DOE program announcement is under development.

  • Ubiquitous connectivity was demonstrated. Research issues include scalability, heterogeneity, self- management, adaptability, longevity and evolutionary capability. Problems exist with security/privacy and reliability of networks.

  • Socioeconomic, Ethical, Legal and Workforce Implications - work will be done with the SBE Directorate. The workforce is showing an increased demand for computer science degrees, but less degrees are being awarded.

CISE is in the process of meeting with other directorates to prepare announcements although the budget has not yet been approved. Even without the increase projected, it is hoped that NSF can redirect some of the current funds to this program. Within NSF, officials have been discussing major research equipment investments. Some areas are in the GEO directorate (Airborne Environmental Observatories, Seismic Topography, etc.) A chart was displayed of these areas and the importance of the various technologies.

Dr. Avery noted that the group is very interested in the IT2 initiative. Dr. Bajczy stated that within CISE, the drive is basic research, driven by the computer science-research problems. However, one can't address the research problems without selecting an application. GEO has the opportunity for several applications. The AC/GEO encouraged efforts to help bring together PIs from different disciplines to plan ideas before proposals are submitted and recommended that careful attention should be given to the selection of panels to encourage a more multi- disciplined view.

Biocomplexity Initiative

Dr. Bruce Hayden, Division Director for Environmental Biology, provided an overview of the NSF Biocomplexity Initiative. Also present were Dr. Phil Taylor, Biological Oceanography, and Dr. Frank Harris, Chair of the AC for BIO. There are two ways the NSF is working in the Biocomplexity initiative: a Foundation-wide thematic area that will hopefully involve all of the directorates; and within BIO on a program level. A program announcement has been issued (Biocomplexity I) with a second announcement planned. Dr. Hayden stressed the important distinction between the theme and research project.

Biocomplexity is a theme that organizes and describes NSF-wide activities and core-program research in environmental sciences, engineering, and education. In the development of this theme (formerly LEE), there are three areas:

  1. Global Environmental Change - How can we protect the Earth itself? - Climate modeling, geosystem databases, atmospherics chemistry, ocean dynamics.

  2. Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics - How can we nurture ecosystems?

  3. Environment and the Human Dimensions - How can we enhance both quality of life and the environment?

Researchers have been successful in using reduction models to solve basic science. Now they need to go the other way - how do we have them work together? To attack these problems, there is a need to cross traditional science boundaries. Biocomplexity research is not new - Europeans have been doing research at the molecular and sub-cell level. NIH has been doing research, too. NSF is taking some responsibility in all areas. Dr. Hayden displayed examples of the reductionism approach versus an integrative approach. The challenge is to not only integrate the levels within a discipline, but also to integrate across disciplines. There is a need to find ways to connect the sub- themes together. One way to do this is to have projects that bring the three issues together. Examples include carbon cycle, hydrologic cycle, nutrient cycle, energy cycle, and population dynamics. There will also be a need to find ways to make the information and resources available. It will be also be important to link the research with information technology.

Dr. Phil Taylor/OCE presented an update on the Biocomplexity announcement. Biocomplexity is the study of the enormous diversity of living things up to and including humans, together with the biological, chemical, and behavioral interactions between individuals, populations, species and ecosystems and their physical surroundings.

Two phases are being planned:

  • Phase I: Microbial Biocomplexity - FY1999 competition with $30 M funded over 5 years. "Biocomplexity is a dynamic property which emerges from the interaction of living organisms or their components with their environment." Multiple scales were important areas for investigation with an opportunity to look at multi-faceted aspects of the systems that look at biological components.

  • Phase II - Biocomplexity -FY2000 competition with estimated funding of $50 - $200 M over 5 years. This will look at complexity in systems that involve biological components. There is confusion as to how broad that scope can be. This is not yet fully decided. There is a need to study biocomplexity in an environmental context as well as in other contexts. Examples of areas that might be studied were listed. The scope for this phase is still being worked on. The present thought is to restrict the announcement by looking for research that is looking at multi- faceted systems - stress non-linear dynamics and interactions across multiple scales.


The AC/GEO felt it was confusing having both programs under the title of Biocomplexity. The group also talked about a need for the scientific disciplines to be brought together to allow for cross-fertilization in the grant planning process. Dr. Taylor noted that incubation grants are anticipated as part of the Phase II announcement. Dr. Avery mentioned the importance of BIO seeing the GEO 2000 Plan. Starting communication at the early stages would be important and a reaction from a biologic perspective would be welcomed.

Approval of Minutes from the December 1-2, 1998 Meeting

A motion was made and approved to accept the minutes from the December 1-2, 1998 meeting.

Discussion on Theme Presentations

There was a general feeling that the presentations made on the biocomplexity issue provided different views within NSF. Rather than having the components overlap, Biology should be a central focus, branching out to other areas to demonstrate linkages. This lets the program deal from a position of strength. The Phase I and Phase II plans, as presented by BIO, are exciting and interesting and very valuable to the biological community. The danger is that all of environmental research is put in one "box." In the letter to Dr. Colwell, it should be noted that the research proposed for Phase I and Phase II is extraordinarily exciting but if presented in a complex agenda, it will suffer. In geosciences, there are parallels in that GEO has done a lot to integrate scales and now disciplines. They may need to first look at the scale of integration in biology.

The group stressed the importance of having workshops or opportunities to come together to focus on the major NSF initiatives and foster ideas across disciplines prior to submission of proposals. Dr. Harris mentioned that the BIO AC also saw this need. Dr. Corell noted that feedback to the NSF working groups for the initiatives would be helpful.

An issue was raised that funding would be made around the three NSF themes. How can NSF make sure no discipline is left out? There is a practical issue between investment strategy and programmatic structure. One suggestion was to organize a small office at the top level within NSF to coordinate activities and organize workshops.

Dr. Avery asked Drs. Leinen and Barron to synthesize an AC response on this issue.

GEO 2000 Plan

Dr. Greenfield provided a brief overview of the activities that have transpired since the update on the GEO 2000 Plan at the last AC/GEO meeting. The goals and objectives for the plan were reviewed. The plan developed through working with the community to identify scientific areas, educational implications, required infrastructure, technologies, and facilities, and then looked at the organization of management strategies to support these activities. It was concluded that two documents needed to be developed: a short vision statement (for Congress and the public) and a description of the scientific agenda and implementing activities to achieve the vision (for NSF, OMB, and the scientific community).

The AC members were provided with the 4-page vision statement. Basic themes include:

  • Humans are agents of environmental change (victims and/or beneficiaries)

  • The geosciences play a pivotal role to develop knowledge of the Earth System because geosciences has developed an increased understanding of the systems through multidisciplinary, integrated research over a broad range of time-space scales and improved observing and computing systems.

To achieve the goal for GEO, the Directorate is committed to support basic research looking at the Earth's planetary processes, expand the understanding and predictability of the complex interactive processes that make up the Earth's system, and provide resulting scientific information in useful ways to society.

The scientific agenda is involved with five perspectives of planetary research: structure, energetics, ecology, metabolism, and variability. The investment strategy is to support the high-quality research and exploit emerging and new technologies. Geoscience-related education needs to be improved as well. The end point of achieving the vision is to develop a "National Earth System Scientific Information Service" that would provide national capabilities to analyze and predict changes in the Earth system and their consequences. The vision also was to revolutionize formal and informal education in earth sciences and the environment. An enabling infrastructure is needed for this plan.

The outline for the full document still needs input. Planetary Ecology has not been written yet.


In general the AC/GEO felt the vision document was very well written and very appealing. One suggestion was to change the word "Service" to "Capability" or make it lower case when talking about a National Scientific Information service. Dr. Corell noted that the report "Our Changing Planet" is consistent with the national information framework idea. It is a national goal and GEO will need to work with other agencies to make it happen.

The AC/GEO agreed with the need for two documents: the vision statement and a more in-depth plan. One member commented that the vision statement could benefit from a more inspirational statement at the end. The group asked how effective the town-hall meeting had been in getting feedback on the GEO 2000 Plan. Dr. Corell responded there were a number of constructive ideas that will be incorporated into the scientific plan.

Dr. Corell noted that the next step is to use this vision document as a way to engage other directorates at NSF, with other agency partners and internationally. Dr. Avery noted the critical importance of engaging other directorates in discussions concerning the GEO 2000 Plan. The AC/GEO asked GEO to go forward with the document with the following suggestions:

  • Include partnerships to create national capability

  • Use lower case for "service"

  • Change last sentence for more emphasis

  • Few other minor edits

The Plan will be an evolving document, updated periodically. Dr. Greenfield thanked Drs. Fung and Simpson for helping to mold the vision statement. Drs. Charles Kolb, Rana Fine and Peter Eisenberger, as well as many people internally, also provided input. Dr. Corell added that Dick Greenfield also contributed greatly to the process.

Other Issues

Education Issues

Dr. Corell stated that it is increasingly clear that NSF will play a significant role in Education/Workforce issues in the 2001 budget. As a consequence, and because these elements are in the NSF plan, there has been a major activity within NSF, led by Luther Williams, to put forth an NSF initiative for the 20th Century Workforce. Several features are outlined, but GEO has other perspectives they would like feedback on. As the document now exists, there are three themes:

  • A major research initiative to better understand the science of learning itself

  • Centers for enhancing the instructional basis of the workforce

  • Diversity

GEO would like to propose an alternate outline for why there is a need for science and technology to play a role in education in the 21st Century.

  • Fundamental research to understand process of learning

  • Enabling infrastructure

  • Diversity issue

  • Integrate research community into the educational enterprise

  • Strategy for management

The AC/GEO's comments and reactions noted they prefer the issue of "enabling infrastructure" rather than Centers. Suggestions also included changing the language for "integrate research community into…" and insert "to provide the content" for the educational enterprise. The strategy that seems to work is to ask teachers to write the curriculum, but have the scientist tell the teachers what they know.

GPRA Performance Report

Dr. Frank Harris, Chair of the BIO AC, noted that BIO has decided to set up a subcommittee to review and present GPRA to the full committee, as it would take considerable time to review it as part of the meeting. The AC/GEO discussed this option. A sub-group has already agreed to help GEO determine the vignettes to be included. It was also noted that there are only two COV reviews per year. The other divisions will rely on Program Manager summaries for input into GPRA. The group could be discipline-based, with a person from each division area looking at scientific examples. In general, the AC/GEO liked the idea of having a discipline-based subcommittee to work with GEO in the development of the performance plan. Dr. Kolb volunteered to be on that subcommittee.

Dates for Next Meeting

Tuesday, November 30 and Wednesday, December 1, 1999, were announced as the dates for the next AC/GEO meeting. One potential problem with those dates is that all GPRA information is due to the NSF office by December 15, including the AC/GEO memo. The GPRA discussion will need to be on the first day.

50th Anniversary

The AC/GEO supported the idea of GEO taking a leadership role in NSF's 50th Anniversary celebration. One suggestion was a series of press releases in partnership with universities. In an effort to ensure getting the maximum return on their investment, it was suggested that a 6-8 person subcomittee be formed to identify ways GEO can contribute in a deliberate way. Dr. Simpson offered to contact the NSF Public Affairs office and offer support or content on behalf of the AC/GEO.

With no further discussion, Dr. Avery thanked Dr. Harris for joining the group. The meeting was adjourned at 3:20 p.m.


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