Division of Ocean Sciences - Fall/Winter 2001 Newsletter
NSF 02-055
(Replaces NSF 01-127)

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Letter from the Division Director...

Dear Colleague,

Photo of James YoderI am very pleased to begin my Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignment (on loan from the University of Rhode Island) as the new Division Director. It is a very challenging position, and my predecessor, Mike Purdy, set a high mark for accomplishment. On behalf of the ocean community, I thank Mike, and Interim Director Don Heinrichs, for their strong leadership of the Division and for their contributions to its growth and success during the past six years.

Oceanographers need also to acknowledge Dr. Rita Colwell’s hard work within the Administration and with Congress to focus attention on the importance of basic research. Following a budget increase of about 15% in FY2001, NSF will receive an increase close to 8.4% in FY2002. The latter is remarkable growth, particularly under present economic and national security circumstances and attests to the strong support for science and science education we enjoy in our nation.

One way that ocean science receives additional funding is through agency-wide priority areas such as Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE) and Information Technology Research (ITR). These initiatives have separate program announcements with themes and priorities determined in part by community input. Watch for these program announcements, and please consider participating in the planning workshops that determine program priorities. Other new programs include Opportunities for Research Collaborations Between the Mathematical Sciences and the Geosciences, the Integrated Carbon Cycle Research Program, and Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence.

The Division is actively pursuing several major infrastructure projects that will help prepare ocean sciences for the future. First, the Ocean Observatories Initiative received National Science Board (NSB) approval for consideration for inclusion in a future budget request within NSF’s Major Research Equipment (MRE) account. The concept for the Initiative has three elements: a regional observatory consisting of interconnected sites on the seafloor, several re-locatable deep-sea observatories based around a system of buoys, and an expanded network of coastal observatories. Second, NSF has worked closely with other members of the Federal Oceanographic Facilities Committee (FOFC) and with the broader community to develop a long-range renewal plan for the academic research fleet. It is an ambitious plan that calls for a mixture of new global, ocean, regional and local class ships over the next two decades to replace an aging academic research fleet. Providing the funds to implement the plan will require close coordination and cooperation among NSF, ONR and other federal agencies. Finally, NSF is working with the Japanese and other international partners to begin a new phase of ocean drilling that will involve two dedicated drill ships, as well as other mission-specific platforms. The Japanese will provide one of the new ships, and NSF plans to provide the other.

If support for basic research, and the infrastructure necessary for its conduct, is to remain strong, we must make both the public and policymakers aware of the exciting results generated by NSF-funded investigators. Over the coming months, we intend to highlight the results of OCE investments as well as their potential relevance to issues of national interest. To help us in this endeavor, please have your public affairs office contact me before they release major publications or announcements of a significant finding stemming from OCE-funded research. The NSF Office of Legislative and Public Affairs believes that simultaneous press releases yield maximum coverage. In addition, NSF was recently asked to consider how basic research contributes to national security, including homeland defense. We are interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic and will consider financial support for innovative projects, workshops, etc., that we believe could make a significant contribution.

I look forward to working with you for the next two years.

signature of James Yoder

James Yoder
Division of Ocean Sciences

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