Harbor Branch Consortium Becomes NOAA’s Newest Cooperative Institute

May 6, 2009

New NOAA Cooperative Institute will focus on ocean exploration, research and technology.

New NOAA Cooperative Institute will focus on ocean exploration, research and technology.

High resolution (Credit: SCDNR, NOAA)

NOAA announced the award of a new cooperative institute to focus on ocean exploration, research, and technology development for the U.S. East Coast. The institute is a consortium to be led by and headquartered at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University in Fort Pierce, Fla. The University of North Carolina Wilmington will be the co-managing partner and limited partners are SRI International, St. Petersburg, Fla., and the University of Miami.

“We expect some exciting things from NOAA’s newest cooperative institute, such as discoveries that further our knowledge of the ocean along our East Coast and the development of advanced underwater technologies,” said Richard Spinrad, NOAA assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research. “Those discoveries and technologies will help resource managers deliver value to society in terms of ocean products and protections.”

Solar powered AUV.

Solar powered autonomous underwater vehicle.

High resolution (Credit: U.S. Navy, NOAA)

The new institute will conduct research under three main themes: development of advanced underwater technologies, exploration and research of frontier regions of the eastern continental shelf and beyond, and improved understanding of deep and shallow coral ecosystems. NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research will be the institute’s primary NOAA partner, which will replace four East Coast centers of NOAA’s Undersea Research Program.

Each of the 22 cooperative institutes are NOAA-supported, non-federal organizations that have established an exceptional research program in one or more areas relevant to the agency’s mission. The institutes collaborate with NOAA scientists on long-term research topics, provide significant coordination of resources among all nongovernment partners, and promote the involvement of students and postdoctoral scientists in NOAA-funded research. Institutes also benefit from funding stability, allowing them to support and expand their research and educational missions.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.