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GEO Advisory Committee
Minutes of May 1-2, 2000 Meeting

Members Present

Dr. David W. Simpson, Chair, Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, Washington, DC
Dr. Gail Ashley, Department of Geological Sciences, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ
Professor Roger C. Bales, Department of Hydrology & Water Resources, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Dr. Otis B. Brown, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami, Miami, FL
Dr. Michael F. Hochella, Jr. , Department of Geological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Dr. Emi Ito, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Dr. Kenneth S. Johnson, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, CA
Dr. Kim A. Kastens, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY
Dr. Timothy Killeen, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Dr. Charles Kolb, President, Aerodyne Research, Inc., Billerica, MA
Dr. John A. Orcutt, Director, IGPP, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA
Professor Mary Jane Perry, School of Marine Science, University of Maine, Walpole, ME
Mr. Robert Ryan, WRC-TV, Washington, DC
Professor Lynne D. Talley, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA
Dr. Peter Wiebe, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA

Members Absent

Dr. Inez Fung, Center for Atmospheric Sciences, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Dr. Judith Parrish, Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Dr. Donald L. Paul, Vice President for Technology and Environmental Affairs, Chevron Corporation, San Francisco, CA

GEO Senior Staff Present

Dr. Margaret Leinen, Assistant Director
Dr. Richard Behnke, Section Head, ATM
Dr. Alan Gaines, Senior Staff Associate
Dr. Clifford A. Jacobs, Facilities Coordinator, Atmospheric Sciences
Dr. Jarvis Moyers, Division Director, Atmospheric Sciences
Dr. Michael Purdy, Division Director, Ocean Sciences
Dr. Michael Reeve, Section Head, OCE
Mr. William Smith, Staff Associate for Budget
Dr. Thomas W. Spence, Senior Associate for Science Programs and Coordination
Dr. James Whitcomb, Deputy Division Director, EAR

The spring meeting of the Advisory Committee for Geosciences (AC/GEO) was held May 1-2, 2000, at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA.

Monday, May 1, 2000

Welcome and Introductions

Dr. David Simpson, Chair, called the meeting to order at 8:40 a.m. Introductions were made. Ten new members have joined the AC/GEO.

Report from the Chair of the AC/GEO

Dr. Simpson provided highlights of items discussed at the fall meeting:

  • Dr. Bordogna's discussion of the development of an NSF strategic plan.

  • The completion of the first stage of the GEO 2000 summary document and its approval.

  • The Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) Performance Report.

Dr. Simpson reviewed the agenda. He summarized the discussions from the NSF advisory committee chairs meeting which was held on March 10, 2000. Dr. Simpson reported that Dr. Colwell had asked the AC/GEO to review the GPRA process, and also asked that an AC/GEO member be designated to serve on the new Advisory Committee for Environmental Research. He announced that the AC/GEO subcommittee meetings would be held the following morning. Dr. Simpson also asked the group to consider the appointment of a vice-chair to the AC/GEO and what his/her responsibilities should be.

NSF Initiatives Part I, Environmental Portfolio

Dr. Margaret Leinen, Assistant Director for Geosciences, spoke about how NSF will implement the directives from the NSB's Task Force on the Environment, which are to:

  • Enhance the quality and support of environmental science and engineering across the directorates.

  • Establish an internal advisory committee comprised of a representative from each of the existing ACs.

  • Enhance and augment funding for environmental research and education, in general, and for the Biocomplexity in the Environment Initiative specifically.

  • Establish immediate priorities by reviewing the best practices for multidisciplinary review, developing a multi-year perspective, identifying opportunities in interdisciplinary areas with other initiatives (Nanotechnology, Information Technology Research (ITR), and 21st Century Workforce) and collaborating with Federal partners.

The goals for the Biocomplexity Initiative are to:

  • develop new theories and methods for modeling complex systems

  • integrate environmental systems across fields

  • provide strategic-enabling technologies for environment research

  • incorporate human and societal factors into science and engineering

  • provide infrastructure to support environmental activities.

The current proposal submissions are too general. Specific interdisciplinary biocomplexity themes should be developed and the themes should continue for 4-5 years. Proposed funding for the NSF environmental portfolio is $659.20 M for FY 2000 (including $50 M for the Biocomplexity Initiative) and $797.98 M for FY 2001(including $136.31 M for the Biocomplexity Initiative). Funding areas specified for Biocomplexity in the Environment Initiative for FY 2001 are microscale (including genomics); ecosystem scale (interactions among humans); planetary scale (carbon and water cycles); and infrastructure platforms such as the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and Integrated Science for Ecosystem Challenges (ISEC). The NSB is requesting an increase to $1.8 B over the next five years.

Comments following the presentation focused on how to implement a review process of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary projects, and the difficulty of bringing disparate disciplines together in teams. Dr. Leinen described the origin of the initiatives in response to a question from Mr. Robert Ryan.

Dr. Peter Wiebe talked about the Biocomplexity Initiative from an ocean sciences perspective. He noted his concerns:

  • The Biocomplexity Initiative is different from the others in that it is multidisciplinary. He asked how the teams would be built and described his past experiences with team projects.

  • Funding requirements of the Principal Investigators would be greater because more of them would be involved than with a typical project.

  • Grant periods are not long enough and should be extended. It is difficult to integrate data sets within 2 years.

  • The evaluation process is different from other projects. A product is important but how the teams are put together is also important.

  • Biocomplexity of oceans cannot be solved nationally. It requires that international teams be assembled.

  • The Global Ocean Observing System of today focuses on physics. The biology of the oceans (animal life) must be studied in order to succeed in biocomplexity.

Dr. Leinen commented that the model that the Biocomplexity Initiative is pursuing would have scientists putting their own teams together and not have them assembled by NSF; that NSF is studying the evaluation issue; and there is an NSF-wide goal to raise their budget so that grants will be for longer time periods and for more money. She talked about a recent meeting in Europe where collaborations between the European Science Foundation and NSF were discussed. Dr. Simpson said that the AC/GEO might want to pass on to the NSF their own experiences with multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary team projects.

Dr. James Collins, a member of the Advisory Committee for Biological Sciences, presented his views on the Biocomplexity Initiative:

  • Biocomplexity fits well under the systems biology umbrella.

  • He has been involved in integrated research and there are inherent problems in integrating social and natural sciences.

  • The international issue is very important; in his experience he was unable to pay senior foreign investigators after they were teamed.

  • Incubation is necessary. Many workshops must be held in the planning phase.

  • He sees many opportunities to associate Biocomplexity with the ITR initiative. The goal in systems biology is to enhance opportunities to create knowledge-based data sets.

Two areas that integrate biocomplexity and a knowledge base are Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) and NEON. He has partnered with GEO on LTER and has had a lot of experience with teamed projects. He said there is much to be learned by the biologists from the geoscientists. He envisions other areas for collaboration in Astrobiology (life in extreme environments) and Biochegeochemistry. Questions from the AC/GEO concerned the evaluation process of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary projects, and also the distinction between multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary.

NSF Initiatives, Part II, Information Technology Research

Dr. Michael Lesk, Director, Division of Information & Intelligent Systems, CISE, provided an overview of the Information Technology Research (ITR) initiative, and said that the FY 2001 budget request is for a 45 percent increase over FY 2000. Much of the increase is for applications research. The major areas for research for this year are software, information technology education and workforce, human-computer interface, information management, advanced computational science, scalable information infrastructure, social and economic implications, and revolutionary computing. Project sizes range from about $150 K per year for 3 years to $2-3 M for 5 years. For the current solicitation CISE received almost 2000 proposals but they only expect to fund 30 large proposals and 125 small ones. Dr. Lesk said that there were many missed opportunities. The solicitation for next year will invite proposals for:

  • Applications (Earth modeling simulations, design issues, visualization, mathematical activities, sensors)

  • Infrastructure (network extensions to small/remote schools getting wideband, support of digital content in the long term, and universal access).

Some of the issues that Dr. Lesk addressed are:

  • How to stimulate innovative proposals.

  • Balancing educational impact with research.

  • Extending the community (encouraging smaller universities to submit).

  • Collaborations with industry, national labs and other nations.

  • The importance of multidisciplinary and multi-institutional work.

  • What additional topics should be introduced.

  • Areas of applications (geographic systems, relation to high-end program).

The AC/GEO discussed how IT research would be useful in geosciences, such as in the integration of computation and data fusion, which is very important in earth sciences. Dr. Lesk agreed that robustness and incompatibility are major problems. In response to a question about whether there were any funds in ITR targeted for inner city and minorities' education, Dr. Lesk responded that there is a very small educational component in this initiative. Dr. Daniel Reed (AC/CISE) said that the focus of the educational component is on graduate education in computer research because many graduates in that field are being attracted away from academia to industry.

NCAR's Emerging Strategic Plan for High Performance Scientific Simulation

Dr. Timothy Killeen sees a close connection between computer science and geoscience. He described the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) plan which was produced in response to a recent performance assessment of their large simulation codes. NCAR was found to be lagging, and as a result they prepared a long-range plan for "end-to-end" simulation:

  • The plan provides for increasing capability in many areas of computer technology such as data management, data storage and networking, code design, models, visualization, outreach and training, and collaboration tools.

  • The operating environment for geosciences is mathematically and systematically complex. There are no common standards, and partnerships with universities, centers, and industry would be helpful.

Six themes emerged from the plan:

  1. Geosciences must immediately increase its computing capability (resources).

  2. Modern software engineering practices (algorithms and code structures) must be used.

  3. Data management, meta data, post processing, and visualization are key.

  4. Project management and team composition are very important.

  5. The role of computer science must be augmented.

  6. Distributed environment- infrastructure (collaboration with geographically dispersed teams) must be accomplished.

Dr. Killeen said the plan addresses three challenges for NSF: getting to the coupled models of the Earth System (GEO); finding out how to get there (CISE and ITR); and training the workforce to respond (EHR, GEO, CISE). In the discussion that followed, Dr. Charles Kolb commented that there should be a thrust in this research to work on distributed sensors. Dr. Killeen agreed and said that this might be linked to the Nanotechnology Initiative. Dr. Orcutt asked about the efficiency of workstations and work clusters. Dr. Killeen responded that the computing future is in shared distributed centers and PACIs and the infrastructure has to work. Dr. Clifford Jacobs, NSF, expressed a concern that climate model simulation is difficult, as is designing operating systems to work with large clusters. Dr. Kim Kastens said investigators have a hard time working in inter- or multidisciplinary teams and asked if that might be improved by education. Dr. Killeen responded that the training should start in K-12 and continue through graduate school. He said the Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program is good for promoting interdisciplinary teams.

Dr. Daniel Reed, AC/CISE, is associated with the National Computational Alliance, which is a PACI center. Their aim is to make computer technology a reality by building infrastructure for the 21st Century. Their approach is to have enabling technology teams work with applications teams, and they are also involved with education and outreach. He described capability computing (clustered SMPs) and clusters, which is a convergence of applications and computer science; and a layered approach to building both access and computational grids for supporting distributed application and remote access. He highlighted the problems associated with making multidisciplinary collaborations work:

  • Recognizing reward metrics

  • Identifying infrastructure roles

  • Maintaining focus

  • Managing geographic distribution

  • Processing data from diverse formats.

  • Processing the meta data in a distributed collaboration of people who are geographically dispersed

  • Infrastructure "as research" vs. "for research"

Dr. Reed said that the computer scientists want to make a success of the multidisciplinary projects and that will be possible if all partners understand the process and discuss it up front. Often what computer scientists present may not be helpful for many years.

Dr. Michael Hochella commented that the Pacific National Laboratories have some very complex computers and that the multidisciplinary groups of scientists don't know how to use them. Dr. Reed said that although these large-scale applications are seldom used at peak performance, they enable new science. In response to a concern about funds for applications, Dr. Leinen said that GEO has budgeted $16 M for ITR for FY 2001, and that collaborating with CISE would be most advantageous. Dr. Reed said that the two directorates should meet to discuss where they could interact and that PACI would be helpful. They also discussed workshops and Letters of Intent as a means of finding collaborators.

Working Lunch: Trends and Opportunities in the Geosciences

Dr. Emi Ito reported on the findings and activities of the Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE):

  • The number of minorities is growing rapidly and women and minorities need to get into the sciences.

  • Strategies for getting more women and minorities into science tie in with NSF's Strategic Plan for people, ideas, and tools.

  • Developing intellectual capital starting in K-12, integrating research and education, and promoting partnerships with minority institutions can be accomplished by putting pressure on institutions to recruit minorities, getting graduate students to help at local minority schools, and working with schools to get better courses and training for teachers.

Dr. Peter Wiebe asked about the trend toward eliminating affirmative action and how that would fit. Dr. Ito responded that institutions can have minority-based programs even if individuals cannot. Dr. Killeen said that a study at his university concluded that diverse communities of students provide for better learning. In a discussion precipitated by a question from Dr. Kastens about why geosciences needs diversity, and particularly, minorities, Dr. Ito responded that different people bring in different points of view and may view data differently. On the issue of women in science, the AC/GEO agreed that although more women are going into sciences, they often don't continue through the Ph.D. program.

Dr. Kolb addressed the issue of "basic" and "applied" research in the environmental sciences. He discussed the Bush Paradigm, which is a linear and oversimplified model. It doesn't work for the environmental sciences because environmental problems are non-linear, complex, and have interconnections at many levels. He mentioned D.E. Stokes' concept of Pasteur's Quadrant, where research is motivated by both the desire for understanding and the desire for useful results. Dr. Kolb said that we need a new paradigm for environmental research and spoke about the NRC's Committee on Research Opportunities and Priorities for EPA (ROPE), who examined this issue for EPA's Office of R&D. Nearly all research at EPA has historically been driven to address narrowly defined problems. However, the best environmental research is motivated by the desire for fundamental understanding as well as the desire to solve problems. The ROPE committee presented three elements of core environmental research which it recommended supplement problem-focused research:

  • understanding underlying processes (investigating processes that drive environmental systems, including health effects)

  • development and demonstration of innovative research tools (including measurement techniques, models and methods)

  • acquisition and dissemination of long-term environmental state data.

In summary, he noted that environmental research should be both fundamental and useful and a large core program should replace a significant fraction of the problem-driven environmental agenda in the mission agencies.

AD Updates

Dr. Leinen provided an update on the FY 2001 GEO budget included in the President's budget request to Congress. The NSF request was increased by 19.5% over FY 2000. Dr. Colwell's goal is to double the budget over the next five years. The FY 2001 request includes $29.20 M for Atmospheric Sciences; $16.85 M for Earth Sciences; and $49.15 M for Ocean Sciences.

Dr. Leinen linked research areas for FY 2001 participation by GEO with the Foundation-wide initiatives as follows:

  • Biocomplexity in the Environment - earth cycles, carbon cycles, water cycles, ecosystem interactions

  • Nanoscale science and engineering - biological, biochemical, and physiochemical processes ($1 M requested)

  • 21st Century Workforce - Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE), Network for Diversity and Education.

  • Information Technology Research - Infrastructure and applications for geosciences research ($16 M requested).

Dr. Leinen noted some of GEO's focus areas continuing in FY 2001:

  • Planetary Structure - MARGINS, EarthScope infrastructure and science

  • Planetary Energetics and Dynamics -space weather, U.S. weather, climate variability (abrupt climate change)

  • Planetary Ecology - Earth cycles, land use (water cycles, carbon cycles)

  • Planetary Metabolism - biogeosciences use.

Dr. Leinen also provided an update on the status of facility investments for FY 2001. For EarthScope, $17.44 M was requested in NSF's Major Research and Equipment (MRE) account; both USArray and SAFOD (San Andreas Fault) will be initiated; and the planning is continuing for a Plate Boundary Observatory and InSAR. For the High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER), $8.5 M is available for FY 2000-2001 and planning and acquisition activities are continuing for the airfame and for instrumentation.

Dr. Killeen questioned whether $16 M for ITR will be enough. Dr. Leinen responded that the AC/GEO should speak up if they feel it is inadequate. A discussion ensued about how geoscientists can engage the computer science community to work with them and Dr. Killeen said that it is GEO's responsibility to engage the computer scientists in geoscience issues. Dr. Hochella asked if it would be possible to get more money appropriated and said that Congress is very interested in jobs, safety, health and the environment and geosciences is involved in all of those.

O/D Guidance and GEO Issues for Discussion with the Director

The AC/GEO discussed the following issues that would be introduced in the discussion with Dr. Colwell:

  • The geosciences community presents grand computing challenges and the interaction of computer sciences and geosciences is crucial. We are limited on advances because of our own limitations and have some ideas to share on how to facilitate this by creating centers and designing paradigms.

  • The Biocomplexity in the Environment initiative should address the need for the global data collection and measurement for earth, ocean, and atmospheric sciences.

  • Clarification on Diversity and Human Resources: Is it NSF's desire to simply obtain more minority principal investigators (as implied by NSF performance goals), or is the goal to educate minority populations about research and the importance of science in their lives?

COV Schedules & GPRA Updates

Each government agency must prepare a strategic plan: a performance plan and an end-of-year performance report. Mr. William Smith, GEO Staff Associate for Budget, said that the role for COVs has been expanded. Mr. Smith put together a template for this year's evaluation by the AC/GEO and noted that NCAR will be included. Dr. Simpson thanked Mr. Smith for the job that he did last year. He also said that the GPRA report had been submitted to Congress. The AC/GEO must evaluate how well the GPRA goals have been met.

Meeting with NSF Director

Dr. Rita Colwell said that she sees GPRA as a management plan and it is important to establish goals. Although OMB said that NSF's goal is acceptable, she will continue to ask for input from the AC's. Dr. Simpson said that he thought the last year's GPRA went well for GEO and Dr. Colwell agreed. The AC/GEO introduced the following topics for discussion.

  • Dr. Kastens posed a question on diversity and asked whether NSF values it because it is good for science or good for society. Should we seek minority principal investigators or should we increase the numbers of minority users of geosciences by focusing on other professionals such as lawyers and doctors and making sure they are on track in environmental issues? Their children may become geosciences researchers in the future. Dr. Colwell said that is a laudatory goal. In 30 years, the majority of Americans will be minorities. What happens in the oceans and the atmosphere concerns human health.

  • Dr. Bales said that the GEO 2000 summary describes challenges such as long-term observation. In the area of biocomplexity, carbon and water cycle issues require large funding for long-term collection and analysis of global data. He asked what commitment NSF will make. Dr. Colwell responded that NSF's budget is at about one third of what it should be and she thinks it is realistic to increase the budget for the initiatives to about $14 B. The AC/GEO should get the message out as a single voice with the other directorates.

  • Dr. Wiebe asked how we could make the biocomplexity long-term data collection and analysis an international effort. Dr. Colwell responded that NSF is involved internationally but the focus should be on the U.S. NEON has 10 locations now but will grow to 26 next year. That is also true about earthquake platforms. They are data linked and the Japanese want to connect.

  • Dr. Kenneth Johnson asked about a new generation of sensors and whether there is interest in an NSF-wide program. Dr. Colwell said there is coordination and it is up to the directorates. She said that half of the ITR proposals come from other disciplines and the same is true for Biocomplexity.

  • Dr. Killeen asked how the geosciences and the computer sciences can be integrated since the geosciences are really limited with the cutting edge work that the computer scientists are doing. As a committee, can they find a strategy for bringing the two disciplines together, possibly by inviting computer scientists into geoscience as a second career? Dr. Colwell liked the suggestion and asked the AC/GEO to think of areas where ITR is necessary so that in outyears it can be budgeted.

  • Dr. Simpson asked Dr. Colwell for advice on how the geoscientists can make their accomplishments more visible. Dr. Colwell agreed that there is no real recognition of scientists and engineers. Scientists have to be more involved in non-traditional education and in K-12 and should increase their public affairs. One AC/GEO member commented that there is much that NSF can do to improve outreach such as by making films for NOVA, but often they get cut out of the budget.

Follow-up Discussion of Issues Raised Above

Dr. Simpson said that Dr. Colwell presented a challenge to the AC/GEO in getting the word out about GEO's accomplishments. This could be done by:

  • GPRA reports

  • PBS programs

  • Press releases

  • Public Affairs group at NSF

  • Journal articles reprinted in newspapers

Dr. Killeen asked how they might implement an increase in funding for outyears in ITR as Dr. Colwell suggested. Dr. Kolb suggested that Dr. Killeen might go to CISE and discuss a possible association. Dr. Leinen said she had talked to Dr. Bajcsy, AD/CISE, about that and she is very interested in collaborations. Dr. Leinen said that the computer science community thought that NCAR looked at them as glorified technicians and there is not a good understanding of the challenges for computer scientists in scholarly work. Dr. Simpson said that at first a disconnect existed between EHR and GEO but it no longer exists. He sees the current situation with CISE the same way.

The AC/GEO agreed that there is a cultural divide between the computer sciences and geosciences community, but KDI has helped this and the computer sciences community wants to work with them. Dr. Kolb said that he suggested that NCAR look at other fields to see how they handled data analysis and collection. Dr. Simpson asked Dr. Kastens, Dr. Killeen, and the AC/GEO to write a few paragraphs about the three topics they had raised with Dr. Colwell. The group felt that Dr. Colwell had not responded fully to the question about long-term observatories and perhaps it hadn't been stated clearly and that it should have been presented as a scientific problem.

Dr. Simpson asked for volunteers to work on the GPRA report. Dr. Kolb volunteered. Some of the AC/GEO are involved in the COV report and maybe they could contribute to the GPRA report as well. He also asked for a volunteer to serve as Vice Chair for the AC/GEO and a representative to the new AC being formed on environmental issues.

A concern was voiced by an NSF staff member that the new initiatives will bring in many proposals and could adversely affect the quality of the review because of the increased workload. He would like to bring that to Dr. Colwell's attention.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:40 pm.

Tuesday May 2, 2000

Dr. Simpson called the meeting to order at 8:00 a.m. He asked for volunteers for an Education and Diversity subcommittee to create a COV for education. Dr. Ito, Dr. Killeen, and Mr. Ryan volunteered.

Education, Human Resources, and Diversity

Dr. Michael Mayhew, NSF, provided an overview of the activities that will continue for the rest of the year, ultimately leading up to a program plan and announcement for Spring 2001:

  • Review programs already supported by GEO that work.

  • Identify exemplary programs of related organizations.

  • Invite input from selected individuals.

  • Convene panel to review draft program plan.

  • Prepare final plan and program announcement.

He stated the following parameters for the plan:

  • There should be a clear and realistic statement of the objective.

  • GEO should build on its strength.

  • At the GEO level, the program should have a single strategy.

  • There should be further discussions with the community.

The themes for possible strategies are: increase diversity by improving geosciences education; scale up what works; and support centers of excellence.

Past activities included:

  • FY 1999 Geoscience Education Solicitation funded the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE).

  • Portal to the Future Workshop was held in August 1999.

  • FY 2000 Geoscience Education Solicitation invited proposals to "implement a community plan."

  • $1.7 M was requested to establish a National SMET Digital Library (NSDL) over 3 years.

Dr. Mayhew said that the central goal of GEO's diversity program should be to discover why few minority students follow a geoscience path. Possible reasons are: a lack of awareness of geoscience in K-12; other career options seem more attractive; or cultural/social barriers. GEO's goal should not be to just increase its numbers by attracting students but should support high- quality research and offer all students, including minority students, an opportunity to participate.

Dr. Kastens continued the presentation with a vision of DLESE as a facility that provides easy access to high quality instructional materials about the Earth and a community center where people could meet. The first focus is interdisciplinary and includes atmosphere, hydrosphere, solid earth, near space, and planetary context. It will serve all levels of education but will focus on undergraduate education. The collection will include learning activities, multimedia tutorials, interactive mini-tutorials about pedagogy for faculty, virtual field trips, educational portals to data, etc. The collection will comprise both reviewed and unreviewed materials. Eight proposals were submitted for the creation of the library.

Meeting of the Atmospheric Sciences Subcommittee

Dr. Charles Kolb, Chair, summarized the subcommittee discussions. He announced that there will be four vacancies in the Division. Dr. Moyers , Division Director, reviewed the budget for this year and next year. There are great challenges being offered by the ITR and Biocomplexity initiatives at present. The Nanotechnology and Mathematics initiatives will pose additional challenges in the near future. The group requested that the solicitations include sufficient mandates for teams including atmospheric and geoscientists. They discussed the meaning of Biocomplexity and suggested getting the word out by way of NCAR workshops and the GEO website. They would like the visions provided in the GEO 2000 summary actually included in the solicitation.

The group also reiterated the necessity of building a bridge to CISE and convincing them that the computational requirements of the geosciences are really challenging, e.g., modeling, data distribution, visualization, data simulation, sensors, etc. They listened to a briefing on the HIAPER aircraft and the instruments it will contain. Discussion also focused on topics that should be included in the letters to Dr. Leinen and Dr. Colwell. The group is excited by the Biocomplexity and ITR initiatives and look forward to related interdisciplinary activities. They see the challenge clearly and are planning proactive moves to build a relationship with CISE. The are looking forward to the FY 2002 MRE and endorse the HIAPER aircraft and Relocatable Atmospheric Observatory (RAO). The subcommittee is also taking a strong, proactive approach to diversity, is concerned about staffing , and make the recommendation for additional capable staff as positions become available. The Director should monitor the staff's workload to avoid overload. The subcommittee members support the challenging interdisciplinary approach to disciplinary projects but think that great care should be taken in the review process. They also urge a formal assessment of the research payoffs of these large scale interdisciplinary programs to ascertain their effectiveness.

Dr. Kolb asked about appointments to and a Chair for a COV. Dr. Simpson questioned Dr. Moyers about the staffing vacancies and was told that there is one vacancy now and there will be three more soon. Dr. Moyers said that usually there is an overlap in staff when vacancies occur, but that overlap may not be possible in some cases.

Meeting of the Earth Sciences Subcommittee

Dr. Emi Ito, Chair, provided a summary of the Earth Sciences subcommittee meeting. There are two staff vacancies. There is a larger proposal workload and they are having a difficult time finding people to participate at the planning level. Cecily Wolf gave a presentation and stated that there are very few new Ph.D.'s in the earth sciences and only about 20% of them are women. An update was given on the Arizona Science and Technology Center: The water problem is going to become more severe. They are hopeful that the MRE request for EarthScope will be funded this year. The first phase of EarthScope includes USArray and the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD). Updates were provided on FY 2002 funding.

A presentation was given on BioEarth, which is a component in the Biocomplexity Initiative and deals with Earth processes and biological systems interactions at all temporal and spatial scales. It focuses on processes rather than on states. Sub-topic areas that it covers include PaleoBiology, BioGeology, and GeoMicrobiology. Water cycle workshops have been conducted. One of the priority areas for proposals is on nanoscale Earth and science engineering. Dr. Leinen said NSF has been in discussions with AGU about nanoscale engineering to get people up to speed. Mr. Ryan suggested that BioMeteorology also be included and also asked whether human health related to geosciences (such as pollen) is included. Dr. Leinen answered that climate variability and human health is included. There are some aspects that involve human health in the Engineering Directorate but there is no central location in NSF for that topic. Dr. Kolb suggested that if the Biocomplexity Initiative includes human health there will be a whole range of topics introduced. Dr. Leinen said that of the 350 proposals submitted in response to the solicitation, some projects touched on atmospheric issues related to human health and there is nothing in the solicitation that would prohibit them. Dr. Leinen said that within the SBE Directorate there are two funded centers on global change that are interrelated with policy and management. There have also been discussions in the environmental monitoring committee about assessments in that area.

Meeting of the Ocean Sciences Subcommittee

Dr. John Orcutt, Chair, provided a summary of the Ocean Sciences subcommittee meeting. There are two vacancies in the Division. Discussions covered planning activities which include workshops. One will be held this summer on ocean observatories. A workshop on education may be co-funded by EHR to bridge the gap between the two Directorates by creating a Center. Concerning the Ocean Drilling program, there is an agreement with the Japanese that each party be responsible for their own portion of the operating costs. Two ships are in the process of being built. The current drilling ship has a microbiology component. Ocean observatories were discussed, and it was agreed that the Division has a role to play in long-term data collection and should pursue this very assiduously. There must be a rationale for developing sensors on a global scale. Another topic for discussion was carbon cycling and what the Division is doing in that area. There is much discussion within the community about how to develop this into an NSF research program. Dr. Otis Brown remarked that the variability of temperature in the North Pacific and North Atlantic should be taken into account.

The group also discussed ITR and its effect on ocean sciences data management. Two major needs in hierarchical data management are wireless and large scale computing. Without that capability, they are constrained. The ocean sciences have nothing that compares with NCAR, which is a good organizing entity. The group also discussed mail reviews and how to enhance return rates and timeliness.

At the completion of the subcommittee reports, the AC/GEO revisited several issues that would be included in the letters to Dr. Leinen and Dr. Colwell:

  • ITR and Biocomplexity initiatives are challenging. GEO accepts the challenge and will build interdisciplinary connections.

  • GEO endorses the four MRE's that are in next year's budget.

  • The diversity issue is very important.

  • The staffing problem at NSF: suggest getting positions filled before outgoing staff leave in order to have good transition. Increased funding and cross-cutting of programs will increase workload.

  • There should be an adequate review of interdisciplinary projects.

  • Topic for next AC/GEO meeting (perhaps Nanotechnology).

Dr. Simpson asked each of the subcommittee chairs to provide him with information for the letters.

Continuation of Education, Human Resources and Diversity Discussion

Dr. Kastens continued her earlier talk on education and diversity themes and provided a possible timetable for implementation in the next year:

  • May 2000 - Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE)

  • Fall 2000 - Educational programs to help train geoscientists for interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary collaboration

  • 2001- Instructional technology in Geoscience Education; and Academic Career recognition for education contributions.

Though all agree that diversity is good, Dr. Kastens asked the group to analyze the reasons for promoting diversity:

  • It is fair - Geoscience is a great career and all young people should have an opportunity to pursue it.

  • It is good for science - Women and minorities offer a different approach to science; they may ask different questions, interpret data differently, bring in different collaborators, or make better decisions.

  • It is necessary. By 2050, minorities will be the majority and we won't have enough geoscientists.

  • It is good for the natural environment. All people impact the environment by their decisions as consumers, voters, and taxpayers.

Dr. Kastens presented a long-range plan to invite minorities into geosciences over the next 25 years. Educate the current generation of minority lawyers, doctors, business people, journalists, clergy, land use planners, and teachers about geosciences so that they become users of geoscience research by having mid-career workshops, summer internships like REU, and form partnerships with professional organizations. The hope would be that the next generation (the children and mentees of the current generation) may become creators of geoscience research.

Dr. Kastens suggested ways to encourage minority participation: by bringing geosciences to where the minorities are or bringing minorities to where the geosciences are, and to study why minorities tend not to follow a geosciences path. She suggested replicating or scaling up existing effective minority programs or establishing a number of large centers.

Dr. Killeen remarked that the push to a geosciences career should begin in middle school. Others suggested introducing undergraduate courses and teacher preparation for middle school. It will also be necessary to change the behavior of scientists on faculty search committees and find ways to interest the mentors within communities in the Earth and the environmental sciences.

Dr. Simpson said that GEO should make a meaningful commitment to the diversity effort, but in order to do it right, it must be done slowly. Dr. Leinen said that minorities will be called in as consultants in order to enhance diversity. Dr. Kolb reiterated that an early research experience (middle school) is crucial to getting into the geosciences field. Dr. Simpson asked the AC/GEO to come to the fall meeting with an implementation plan.

The meeting adjourned at 4:00 p.m.


  • As requested by Dr. Colwell, review the GPRA process.
  • Designate a member to the new AC being formed on environmental research.
  • Appoint a vice chair to the AC/GEO and decide what his/her responsibilities should be.
  • AC/GEO members share with NSF their experiences with multi- and interdisciplinary projects.
  • Make an effort to engage the computer scientists in geosciences issues.
  • Write follow-up letters to Dr. Colwell and Dr. Leinen after the meeting.
  • Dr. Kastens and Dr. Killeen will write paragraphs about the topics they introduced at meeting with Dr. Colwell.
  • Dr. Kolb volunteered to work on the GPRA report.
  • Dr. Ito, Dr. Killeen, and Mr. Ryan volunteered to serve on an Education and Diversity subcommittee to create a COV for education.
  • The subcommittee chairs will provide Dr. Simpson with information to be included in the letters.
  • Dr. Simpson asked the AC to come to the fall meeting with an implementation plan for diversity.