NSF Issues Dear Colleague Letter to Support Ocean Technical Workforce Education

The National Science Foundation (NSF) issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” (DCL) on March 14, 2022 seeking proposals for curriculum development and student engagement to support the expansion of the ocean technical workforce. Through the DCL, NSF hopes to expand the technical capacity of the U.S. workforce in high-technology fields through training programs that educate the next generation of ocean technicians, data scientists, ocean engineers, and ocean scientists.

Proposal topics of high priority include training in ocean instrumentation design, manufacturing and maintenance of marine-related hardware, and ocean data science and data analytics, with an emphasis on the inclusion of researchers, engineers and students from groups that are underrepresented in the marine science and mariner communities. Submissions are encouraged that target documented gaps in the U.S. technical workforce in marine instrumentation and manufacturing sectors, including those related to renewable energy, such as wave, tide, wind, and solar energy systems.

Full details can be found here.  Proposers are encouraged to contact the program officers prior to submitting proposals or requests for supplemental funding. For questions about this DCL, please contact Elizabeth (Lisa) Rom – elrom@nsf.gov in the Division of Ocean Sciences, Jumoke Ladeji-Osias – jladejio@nsf.gov in the Directorate of Engineering, or  V. Celeste Carter – vccarter@nsf.gov in the Division of Undergraduate Education.






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Funding Opportunity for OOI Education Proposals

To encourage wider use of OOI data by researchers and educators, the Ocean Sciences Division (OCE) of the National Science Foundation is seeking proposals for projects that use OOI data. Funding is available to support workshops, conferences or other training events that introduce researchers and educators to the type of data available through OOI and community tools that have been developed to use that data.

A Dear Colleague Letter (NSF20-047) issued in early 2020 remains in effect.

“We are seeking to support efforts that teach researchers or educators how to use OOI data and tools, that develop additional tools or instructional materials using OOI data or that serve to create communities of practice to use OOI data for multi-investigator, community-driven research, “ said Elizabeth Rom, an OCE Program Director who oversees a number of NSF educational initiatives.

At a recent town hall of the Ocean Observatories Initiative Facility Board at the AGU Fall Meeting, Rom presented a progress report on proposals funded since May 2020.  These include:

  • Two Ocean Hack weeks held at the University of Washington and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. In 2020, the workshop was virtual, in 2021 the workshop was a hybrid.
  • OOI Biogeochemical Data Workshop, which consisted of an online meeting in July 2021 and plans for an in-person meeting for June 2022 at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
  • K12 OOI Workshop Series that involves the South Kitsap School District in Washington state and Deb Kelley at the University of Washington. The goals of the workshop series are to develop teacher cohort and lesson plans using OOI data in classrooms. The series launched in early December with virtual and in-person sessions planned throughout 2022.

She also reported on progress in course development, including support of a second cohort of faculty to develop version 2 of the Ocean Data Lab’s online manual, microbial monitoring using OOI RCA remote samplers at Axial Seamount, and development of instructional materials and piloting assessment instruments to explore undergraduate scientific literacy. NSF programs GeoPaths (Pathways into the Earth, Ocean, Polar and Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences) and Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) sites also provided opportunities for using OOI data.  An initiative to broaden the scope and increase the efficacy of the SERC Discovery System was supported, as were multiple REU student projects in 2020 and 2021.

“While COVID served to discourage in-person meetings and workshops, we were pleased that so many innovative approaches were proposed,” added Rom.  “Hopefully in 2022, we will have opportunities to for virtual, hybrid and in-person workshops, and certainly the innovation of this community will shine through.”

Two- and four-year U.S. institutions of higher education and U.S. non-profit non-academic organizations are eligible to submit proposals. Proposals may be submitted at any time, but Principal Investigators are encouraged to submit at least six months prior to the planned event. Submission details are available here. While the DCL refers to Fiscal Year 2020, it continues to be in effect until canceled.

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Position Opening: NSF OOI Program Director

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is recruiting for the position of NSF OOI Program Director.  The application deadline is 25 October 2021. This is an excellent opportunity to help guide the OOI. Learn more and apply here.
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Scoping the New Pioneer Array in the Southern Mid-Atlantic Bight

A very engaged group of participants spent the week of June 21st thinking about how to optimize the Pioneer Array for its relocation to the southern Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) in 2024. The five-day Innovations Lab, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) was led by the OOIFB (Ocean Observatories Initiative Facilities Board), a talented team of “Sparks”, Knowinnovation, Inc. (KI), and expertly supported by the OOI Facility. The group identified a range of representative interdisciplinary science questions that can be addressed using the Pioneer Array within the MAB and proposed optimum locations and potential configurations for the array.

Science question topics included air-sea interactions;  the influence of estuarine plumes and the Gulf Stream on cross-shelf and shelf-slope exchanges and their impacts on ocean chemistry and biology; benthic-pelagic coupling; and canyon processes. Participants converged on a general region (see boxes in Figure 1 below) that would best address the science questions.

[media-caption path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Google-earth-map.png" link="#"]Figure 1. Southern MAB Pioneer Array regions. The red box indicates the region where moorings would be located and the larger green box indicates the region where mobile assets (gliders and AUVs) would operate.[/media-caption]

“The Innovations Lab was very successful, and we really appreciate the community sharing their innovative ideas with us in this essential first step,” said Kendra Daly, chair of the OOIFB. “The Innovations Lab provides an excellent start to a long process of fleshing out the details to ensure that the array provides data to investigate a broad range of interdisciplinary science questions, while also being robust enough to weather the challenging environmental conditions in the Mid-Atlantic Bight.”

The OOIFB will continue to engage with the OOI community to refine the array’s design for implementation over the next two years. The Innovations Lab showed that there is strong community interest in coastal science, the potential for new partnerships, and excitement about implementing the Pioneer Array in its new location.


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NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences to Provide PostDoc Fellowships in 2021

[media-caption type="image" class="external" path="https://oceanobservatories.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/PMUO-deployment.jpg" alt="PMUO Deployment" link="#"]OOI is a science-driven ocean observing network that delivers real-time data from more than 800 instruments to address critical science questions regarding the world’s ocean. Credit: Rebecca Travis ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[/media-caption]

The National Science Foundation’s Ocean Science Division (OCE) announced plans to launch a postdoctoral research fellowship program later this fall.   Assistant Director for Geosciences William E. Easterling noted that such fellowship programs often serve as launching pads for successful careers. He also encouraged applications that incorporate existing data offered by NSF-funded program such as the Ocean Observatories Initiative.

OCE anticipates awarding about 15 postdoctoral fellowships that will start in mid-2021 or later. Selected fellows will affiliate with a research institution and conduct research on topics supported by OCE.

The Ocean Observatories Initiative offers potential applicants the opportunity to avail themselves of targeted and long-term ocean data and provides useful resources that can aid in the development of  proposals that incorporate OOI data. OOI, for example, offers webinars on how to add instruments or platforms to its infrastructure. Opportunities for ship-time experiences, as well as possibilities to modify or add to existing OOI sampling to help answer research questions.  OOI also offers tools to incorporate OOI data into research, including a recently launched Data Explorer tool that makes it easy to download and visualize datasets and customize data views.

We will keep an eye out for further information about this OCE program.  In the meantime, we encourage you to contact OOI’s HelpDesk to begin to discuss and explore the many opportunities that exist to integrate OOI data into a fellowship application.



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