Dr. George Voulgaris Appointed New OOI Program Director

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the appointment of Dr. George Voulgaris as the new Program Director for the NSF-funded Ocean Observatories Initiative. Voulgaris joins NSF from the School of Earth, Ocean, and Environment at the University of South Carolina, where he was a full professor and held a variety of administrative appointments throughout his career. Voulgaris assumes the OOI leadership role that was jointly provided by NSF Section Heads, Lisa M. Clough, Ocean Section, and Bauke (Bob) H. Houtman, Integrative Programs since 2016.  Bob retired at the end of 2022, but Lisa continues to support George in his new role and remains engaged with the OOI Facility.

This position marks a return to NSF for Voulgaris who served as a Program Director for NSF’s Physical Oceanography Program from July 2017 to August 2020.

Lisa Clough said, “Bob and I are excited to be turning over the reins of the OOI at NSF to George, who is very well-suited to the task.  George has more than 30 years-experience in ocean observations systems, as well as 3+ years of experience as an NSF program director. With this experience, he brings to OOI the unique perspective of understanding what quality ocean observations require from standpoint of a system operator, scientist and educator, and as a federal funder. Unquestionably, George will help the OOI deliver on its mission to be one of the world’s premier ocean observing systems.”

Voulgaris plans to facilitate the work of OOI operators and the OOI Facility Board (OOIFB) as both respond to the challenges and opportunities informed by the broader oceanographic community. “Coming from an institution with no major oceanographic facilities, I have a great appreciation of the opportunities OOI provides to faculty, researchers, and students with no access to such facilities,” Voulgaris explained. “I hope to help OOI continue to provide these services and further enhance its impact through new scientific discoveries and synergies with other partners vested in ocean discovery and through new emerging technologies. I am excited be a part of  OOI as its impact grows both nationally and internationally.”

Voulgaris joined the University of South Carolina as Assistant Professor in 1998 and was promoted to the ranks of Associate and Full Professor in 2005 and 2008, respectively. His research is in the area of Coastal Processes incorporating aspects of both Marine Geology and Physical Oceanography. His many externally funded research projects (e.g., NSF, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of the Interior) range from exploring the surf-zone to continental shelf circulation and often include assessing sediment transport and wave-current interactions, using hydrodynamic and turbulence measurements in the field and laboratory. For the last decade, he has been active in operational oceanography utilizing coupled wave and current numerical models and HF and VHF Radar measurements for measuring surface currents and ocean waves.

Voulgaris has authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 130 published abstracts and 45 technical reports, source-codes, and other non-refereed publications. In recognition of his research contributions, he was awarded the University of South Carolina  Research Foundation award for Science and Mathematics in 2014.  Voulgaris has served as a member of the Scientific Committee of the Key Laboratory for Coast and Island Development, Ministry of Education, Nanjing University, China, and on the Board of Directors for the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association. Voulgaris is also a member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Marine Technology Society.

Voulgaris received a bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University of Patras in Greece and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.

The Ocean Observatories Initiative is a 25-year ocean infrastructure project funded by the National Science Foundation to gather and deliver physical, chemical, and biological measurements from the ocean, atmosphere, and seafloor to anyone with an internet connection. The program includes moored instrument arrays and autonomous underwater vehicles deployed at critical locations in the coastal and open ocean worldwide. Data from the observatories help researchers address questions across short and long time periods, small and large spatial scales, and from the ocean surface to the seafloor. OOI is managed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and implemented by WHOI, the University of Washington, and Oregon State University.