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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

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 practical applications."

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 Library.

For Information: Todd McLeish 874-7892



 

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