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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI’s research vessel put in service to the state as part of Rhode Island Endeavor Program

Media Contact: URI Communications, 401-874-2116

KINGSTON, R.I. -- July 6, 2005 -- The University of Rhode Island’s oceanographic research vessel, the Endeavor, took a daylong trip on June 30 to collect seawater samples for testing of possible distribution of Alexandrium (the phytoplankton species that makes up red tide). The vessel transported two officials from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to an area between Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard. It was the first time DEM had sampled offshore for red tide, and initial indications showed no toxins. The sampling was one of the many activities made possible by the state’s Rhode Island Endeavor Program.

In recognition of the importance of the ocean to Rhode Islanders, the state’s leadership created a $500,000 initiative in the fiscal 2005 budget to enhance marine-related scientific and technological research, education and training. This year, the state again supported the initiative with $500,000 in funding for the program, which provides Rhode Islanders with direct access to the scientific research and educational capabilities of the Endeavor, a 185-foot intermediate-sized research vessel.

URI’s internationally recognized Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO), currently ranked fifth in the country among oceanographic research-doctorate programs by the National Research Council, manages and operates the vessel.

“State support enables the state’s scientists, engineers, educators, and students to access a well-equipped, multi-purpose ocean-going research platform that was previously restricted to users supported only by federal and other non-state funding,” said David Farmer, dean of the GSO.

The U.S. National Science Foundation anticipates releasing a nationwide request for proposals this winter for academic institutions to serve as vessel operators of a new class of ships. GSO plans to enter this competition, and the state funds are critically important to establish a track record of support that can be demonstrated to federal funding agencies.

Such support will enable URI to compete successfully against other state-supported oceanographic institutions in Texas, Washington, Hawaii, California, and elsewhere.

“If the University is selected as a successful bidder, we would be given a new vessel to replace the R/V Endeavor,” said Farmer. Rhode Island has a long tradition of valuing the sea, an integral part of its economy and culture. The identity of Ocean State citizens is tied to fishing, marine scientific research, ocean recreation, and marine technology development and manufacturing.

“This will allow Rhode Island to continue to remain on the forefront of oceanographic research and education,” added Farmer.