URI names prominent ocean scientist to lead
Graduate School of Oceanography
KINGSTON, R.I. -- December 12, 2000 -- Following an international search,
the University of Rhode Island has appointed David M. Farmer dean of its
Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO), effective May 20, 2001.
He succeeds Margaret Leinen, who was named assistant director for geosciences
at the National Science Foundation. Professor James Yoder has served as
interim dean since Leinen's departure in January.
As dean, Farmer will have executive responsibility for the school and
provide leadership for its academic, research and service responsibilities,
as well as for efforts to obtain external funding for the school. GSO is
one of the world's foremost marine research institutions. It currently
enrolls approximately 100 graduate students and employs 300 faculty, researchers
and support staff at the University's Narragansett Bay Campus.
"I am pleased that we were able to attract a scientist of Dr. Farmer's
caliber to provide leadership for our internationally known Graduate School
of Oceanography. Our faculty are outstanding, as evidenced by the support
their research garners from granting agencies. Dr. Farmer will build on
GSO's strong reputation," said M. Beverly Swan, provost and vice president
for academic affairs.
Farmer is currently a senior scientist and head of the Acoustical Oceanography
Group which he created -- at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney,
British Columbia. From 1972 to 1988, Farmer headed the Institute's Coastal
Zone Oceanography Group.
The Institute of Ocean Sciences is one of Canada's largest marine institutes
and serves as the country's primary source of ocean science information
for the coastal waters of British Columbia, the North Pacific Ocean, the
western Canadian Arctic, and navigable fresh waters west of Ontario.
"In the ocean, as in the atmosphere, we face unprecedented environmental
challenges of great complexity and global extent," said Farmer. "The
problems cross all the traditional disciplines, extending also into social,
economic and political fields. Resolution of these challenges will demand
the highest levels of scientific excellence, the ability to think beyond
one's own research area, and a willingness to apply the results of new knowledge
to the solution of global problems.
"As a leading center of research and education in ocean science,
the Graduate School of Oceanography has a unique role to play in producing
future generations of ocean scientists. The standards we set ourselves
will be the standards by which our school and our graduates are judged.
My goal is to ensure our students get the best possible education in oceanography
and that our research is recognized as attaining the highest level of excellence."
A native of the United Kingdom, Farmer received bachelor's and master's
degrees from McGill University and a doctorate from the University of British
Columbia. In addition to his role at the Institute of Ocean Sciences, he
is an adjunct faculty member at the University of British Columbia and the
University of Victoria. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Canada's
national academy) and the recipient of the President's Prize from the Canadian
Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, the Walter Munk Award from The
Oceanography Society and Office of Naval Research, and the Rosenstiel Award
from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric
Science. He is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and received
Government of Canada awards in 1989 and 1999.
Farmer's research interests include the study of upper ocean physics,
coastal flows, ocean acoustics, the study of lakes, sea-ice, fjord circulation,
the measurement of fish populations and related topics. He has a particular
interest in the application of acoustical techniques to ocean research and
has explored their use in topics ranging from the measurement of ocean surface
bubbles to the fracturing of sea ice.
"In pursuit of my research goals, I have developed various innovative
observational approaches," explained Farmer. "My study of coastal
flows included an exploration of the mechanisms controlling the exchange
of water through the Strait of Gibraltar. My upper ocean research has been
motivated by my desire to understand the mechanisms by which the atmosphere
and ocean are coupled. Underwater acoustics has proved especially useful
as a remote sensing approach in this energetic environment and has many
The URI Graduate School of Oceanography is one of the country's largest
marine science education programs. Founded in 1961 in Narragansett, GSO
serves a community of scientists who are researching the causes of and solutions
to such problems as acid rain, global warming, air and water pollution,
oil spills, over-fishing, and coastal erosion. GSO is home to the Coastal
Institute, the Coastal Resources Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the Ocean
Technology Center, Office of Marine Programs, and the National Sea Grant
For Information: Todd McLeish 874-7892