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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

Lisa Cugini, (401) 874-6642

URI Office of Marine Programs Awarded
Sloan Foundation Grant for Census of
Marine Life International Program

Narragansett, R.I .-- January 30, 2003 -- A $480,000 grant was awarded to the University of Rhode Island’s Office of Marine Programs (OMP) at the Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) to launch an education and science communications program related to a 10-year international research program, the Census of Marine Life (CoML). The one-year grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will fund OMP to officially announce this international science effort and explain the mission and accomplishments of the broad-based CoML research program. This 10-year research program, now beginning it’s third year, is funded in part by the Sloan Foundation., a philanthropic nonprofit established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan, Jr., then president and chief executive officer of the General Motors Corporation.

The Census of Marine Life’s mission is to assess and explain the diversity, distribution and abundance of marine animal species in the world's oceans in the past, present and future. More than a dozen research efforts are currently underway around the world, programs that range from studies of the deep ocean ridges and the life that exists there to the migration patterns of salmon and tuna. The CoML program includes other work integral to this research such as designing and implementing databases for cataloguing marine species in conjunction with other international biodiversity efforts, and the design and implementation of innovative biological sampling and monitoring techniques for the marine environment. OMP’s outreach and education efforts will inform broad audiences about CoML’s research and contributions to this scientific knowledge base and explain why this program is important to governments, commercial and recreational fishers, environmental groups, the research community, and the public.

"We’re delighted that the Office of Marine Programs has been selected to be part of this international effort to learn more about biodiversity in the world’s

oceans," said David A. Farmer, dean of URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography and member of the CoML International Scientific Steering Committee. "It is a credit to the exceptional work carried out by the Office of Marine Programs that it was selected as the cog at the center of this enormous wheel of spreading newly discovered information about the oceans to the world. It is a great honor and challenge to be part of this international effort."

OMP will create an international education program, including a website portal to all CoML research websites, furnish scientists with networking resources for presenting their research consistently and effectively, and serve as a liaison between CoML and the international media. OMP will also help explain why conducting research on the diversity of marine life in the world’s oceans is vital to our knowledge base and ability to manage marine resources effectively.

OMP Director Sara Hickox will oversee the CoML outreach and education efforts. Gail Scowcroft, Associate Director for Marine and Environmental Education, will develop the educational aspects of the program, and Jackleen de La Harpe, Associate Director for Science Communications, will coordinate the communications initiatives.

The public announcement of the Census of Marine Life is scheduled for October 23, 2003 in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the 2003 meeting of international CoML scientists and a meeting of the CoML International Scientific Steering Committee.

Established in 1986 as the marine and environmental outreach arm for GSO, OMP's education and science communications efforts target teachers and students at all levels, scientists and engineers, the media, and the public.

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