UCAR 2000 October Meetings

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UCAR University Relations Committee Meeting
25 April 2000

Millersville, Pennsylvania

The University Relations Committee met at Millersville University of Pennsylvania in Millersville, PA on 25 April 2000.

Committee members present were:

Eric Betterton, University of Arizona
Chris Bretherton, University of Washington
Richard Clark, Millersville University of Pennsylvania
Kelvin Droegemeier, University of Oklahoma (Chairman)
Matt Hitchman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ken Pickering, University of Maryland
Gene Takle, Iowa State University
Mingfang Ting, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

UCAR Trustee liaison:

Ron Smith, Yale University

UCAR/NCAR resource people:

Charlie Martin, Atmospheric Technology Division


Cliff Jacobs, Head, UCAR & Lower-Atmosphere Facilities Oversight Section

Others present for all or part of the meeting were:

Richard Anthes, President, UCAR
Dave Carlson, Director, Atmospheric Technology Division, NCAR
Walt Dabberdt, Associate Director, NCAR
Jack Fellows, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Director of UOP
Susan Friberg, Administrator, UCAR
Tim Hundsdorfer, Budget and Planning Office, NCAR
Susan Warner, Executive Asst., UCAR



No notes are taken during the Executive Session.

A. Regular Business Items

1. Chairman's Remarks

Chairman Kelvin Droegemeier welcomed the attendees and thanked Rich Clark for hosting the University Relations Committee at Millersville University. The committee reviewed and approved both the agenda and the draft notes from last October's meeting. Droegemeier pointed out that Tim Killeen, NCAR's new director, was originally on the agenda to speak with the committee.

Rick Anthes explained that Killeen's schedule did not permit him to attend but that Killeen is looking forward to meeting the committee in October and that he is interested in enhancing university relations.

B. Information Items

1. Status Reports

a. ATM/NSF Report

Cliff Jacobs, Head of ATM's UCAR & Lower-Atmosphere Facilities Oversight Section, reported on NSF's FY2001 Budget Request. He reported that the $4.6B budget request, which is an 17.3% increase over FY2000, is the best NSF has ever had. He pointed out that Research and Related Activities is slated to receive an increase of almost 20%. In his overview of NSF's main initiatives, Jacobs reported that Information Technology (IT) Research is a multi-agency initiative with NSF as the lead player and that NSF is particularly interested in the IT Applications area. Biocomplexity in the Environment is another broad initiative encompassing many areas, with a projected budget of up to $1B over the next five years.

Jacobs further elaborated on NSF's 2001 budget by reporting that GEO's budget will increase by 19.5% and that atmospheric sciences will increase by 17.7% and ocean sciences by 22.2%. After cautioning the committee that most of the increase is slated for initiatives, Jacobs said that GEO plans on a substantial increase in the biocomplexity initiative. He added that the Global Change Program will be funded at the FY2000 level. As he had mentioned earlier in his report, HIAPER is not in the 2001 budget for Major Research Equipment. It is hoped that a substantial increase will be in the 2002 budget and that by 2005 the research aircraft will be ready.

Droegemeier asked about the future of the USWRP; Jacobs replied that it is still a high priority for NSF but he was not optimistic about its future after noting the program's history. Gene Takle stated his concern that more money needs to be budgeted for basic research and noted that the U.S. is falling behind Japan and other countries in this area.

b. UCAR Status Report

In his briefing on UCAR's recent activities, UCAR President Anthes reported on the process followed by the NCAR Director Search Committee which resulted in the nomination and acceptance of Killeen as the new director. In addition Killeen's wife, Roberta Johnson, will join UCAR with a joint appointment as an scientist in HAO and as a Director of UCAR Education and Outreach. They will be on-board July 1st. Anthes continued by reviewing NCAR's 40th Anniversary activities that are being planned which includes a visit by Rita Colwell during the June Board Meeting in Boulder. Other 40th anniversary events include an interactive Web survey that will go out to the community in May, and the publication this Fall of a special edition of UCAR Highlights, a sequel to the UCAR at 25 document.

In reviewing Corporate Affairs' activities, Anthes pointed out that the Membership Committee is considering three new applicants for UCAR membership and one for affiliate membership. Next, in his report on Finance & Administration, he announced their move to East Pearl, and reported that the refurbishment of Mesa Lab 's is progressing as planned and that BRAN, a high-speed fiber optic network, has been completed. In continuing his overview of UCAR Highlights, Anthes reported that SOARS, a nationally recognized success program, will be up for a renewal in June; announced that Tim Brenner, U of Colorado, will be the first fellow for the AMS Congressional Fellow program; and reported on the recent visit of GEO Assistant Director Margaret Leinen to Boulder.

Anthes concluded his report by listing future issues and opportunities for UCAR, among which were the research aircraft HIAPER, the search for a new ACD Director, NSF reviews, and FY2000 and FY2001 budgets. Droegemeier suggested to Anthes that if information could be extracted from the new Highlights document and published in BAMS, students would be more likely to read it and as a result become more informed about UCAR and NCAR.

Droegemeier announced that several vacancies on the URC will occur this Fall and asked the committee to give Anthes nominations of people they think would be active and interested in serving on this committee.

c. UCAR Office of Programs Status Report

UOP Director Jack Fellows reviewed the mission and focus areas of UOP. After describing the eight programs of UOP, Fellows highlighted some of their activities. He reported that COMET celebrated their 10th Anniversary at the AMS meeting last January and that COMET's MetEd Website was still very active. He noted that PAGE has had an extremely good year and explained the program received two grants. One grant will support the Virtual Exploratorium, a prototype geosciences learning tool using visualization, and that a demo will be presented at the upcoming October meetings. The other grant will provide for a Geoscience Digital Library, which will aid faculty in finding, using and creating resources to support learning in undergraduate Earth systems science.

In reviewing Unidata's activities, Fellows announced that this program is having their 15th Anniversary, that the first Russell DeSouza Award was given to Harold J. Edmon (U of Washington), and that Unidata's summer workshop will be held in Boulder on 19-23 June. He reported on SuomiNet, a proposal in the GPS Science & Technology (GST) program, and said that 170 sites have registered, 27 of them international, and that 30 commitment letters for 41 sites have been received by UCAR. Fellows reviewed JOSS' Mesoscale Alpine Program, noted that the field phase ended in November and added that data from this program is available via the JOSS field catalog.

Fellows concluded his report by reviewing recent events in the COSMIC program. In January 2000 UCAR was accused of violating an aerospace company's IP, and while UCAR does not agree with this accusation, has partnered with this company. Final details of the agreement are now being ironed out and by May a contract should be signed.

d. NRC Ranking Update

Fellows updated the committee on the status of including atmospheric sciences departments in the National Research Council (NRC) rating of science departments at U.S. universities. Fellows and Anthes have explained to the NRC that the atmospheric sciences programs are inter-disciplinary in nature and therefore the number of doctoral students are greater than shown. Since this project is already a year late and has no funding, Fellows will just monitor the progress for the present.

e. Advocacy Report

Fellows reported on UCAR's 2000-01 advocacy priorities that were determined by working with Lewis-Burke Associates, UCAR's Washington, D.C. consultants, and with the community. He summarized the proposed priorities:

  • NSF — overall budget will be supported with special attention given to Research & Related Activities and Major Research Equipment, namely HIAPER
  • NOAA — overall budget will be supported but opposition will be given to privatization of weather services legislation
  • NASA — overall support will be given to the Office of Earth Science with emphasis given to EOS programs, Office of Space Science, and Office of Aero-Space Technology
  • DOE — support Biological and Environmental Research, Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program, Climate Modeling and Advanced Computing Research
  • FAA — support the Weather Program
  • Other Issues — data access, visas, and supercomputing in the U.S.

Fellows next reported on the Office of Government Affairs (OGA) activities. After reviewing recent visits of congressmen and their staff members to UCAR, he listed the various outreach activities of OGA, which included exhibits, action alerts, written testimonies given on behalf of the UCAR community, and letters sent regarding appropriations and FY01 budgets.

f. NCAR Status Report

Associate Director Walt Dabberdt updated the committee on recent activities of NCAR. In reviewing the Strategic Plan for Scientific Simulation, he gave the background leading up to the development of the plan, including the findings of the NSF code assessment panel in July of last year. The plan, after final input from the Advisory Panel, will be submitted to NSF May 19th. After listing the six themes of the plan, Dabberdt then discussed the challenges that were identified by the Advisory Panel at their 4/21/00 meeting. Of these challenges, the overarching problem was the "new culture," along with the need to develop a prototype development project and how best to engage the community in this plan.

Dabberdt reported that the allocation of SCD's computing resources are split 50-50 between NCAR and the universities, and that the users of LAOF (Lower Atmospheric Observing Facilities) systems are 56% universities, 27% NCAR, agencies 10% and joint 7%. He continued by giving the status on HIAPER—even though there was no money in the FY2001 President's Request, NSF is giving the initiative high priority for FY2002. He also said that the final RFP will be available by mid-May of this year and a contract award may be given as early as February 2001. He next reported on TOPSE (Tropospheric Ozone Production about the Spring Equinox), a collaborative research project, originating in ACD, that is studying springtime ozone maximum in the northern mid-latitudes.

In his update on the ACD Director search, Dabberdt said that six finalists have been interviewed and that by early May a decision will be made. After noting that the number of female scientists at NCAR will increase by three this summer, he concluded his report by announcing the upcoming community events at NCAR occurring this summer—CEDAR, CCSM and ASP Summer Colloquium.

2. NCAR Liaison Reports and Update

Droegemeier described the liaison program to the new committee members and concluded that this program needs to become more active. He added that the initiative in these interactions should be from the URC liaison and not from the NCAR division director. The one report given was by the ASP liaison, Eric Betterton, on his involvement in ASP's selection process. After noting that this is the first time URC has participated in this process, Betterton said that he reviewed ASP's short list, numbering around 20, and found that all the applicants were very well qualified and that he discerned no geographical basis in the selection.

Following is the new liaison appointment list which was drawn up to reflect the current URC membership:

ACD — Matt Hitchman

ASP — Ken Pickering

ATD — Gene Takle

CGD — Chris Bretherton

ESIG — to be determined

HAO — to be determined

MMM — Mingfang Ting

RAP — to be determined

SCD — Kelvin Droegemeier

For the Fall URC meeting, Droegemeier requested that reports be given by the divisional liaisons for SCD, CGD, ATD, and MMM. Also in the Fall the "to be determined" divisions will be assigned liaisons from the incoming URC members.

C. Action Items

1. Instrumentation Development at Universities

Takle reviewed the background on his paper soon to be published in Bulletin of American Meteorological Society. A self-organized committee, Study on Observational Systems (SOS-I), sent out a survey in 1989 to 93 universities—48 universities and colleges responded. From this survey SOS-I concluded that "a serious imbalance appears to have developed between observational and theoretical/numerical components of the atmospheric sciences." The committee also identified six problems areas that contributed to this perceived imbalance. In 1997 the American Meteorological Society Committee on Measurements proposed revisiting this issue and the committee SOS-II was formed. Takle, a member of both SOS committees, developed a survey to address the issues raised in the SOS-I report; this survey was sent out to the same community as before and 53 institutions responded.

Takle summed up the results of this survey. He reported that of the six problem areas, two are still serious—the observational systems still lag behind computational systems in upgrading and replacing equipment and there is still a great need for quality instruction on measurement technology. Takle described the "ensemble" approach, which was used to analyze the data and from this approach 64% of the universities contended that the problems remain serious or are even worse than 10 years ago. Takle then reviewed his seven recommendations in addressing these issues.

Dave Carlson, Director of ATD, complimented Takle on his conclusions. Carlson continued by saying that NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences had done a systematic study on this balance of modeling vs. observational and it was concluded that the mixture had not changed in the past 5 to 7 years. In reviewing the use of ATD-supported facilities, Carlson said that universities were not well represented in the use of lidars and in the use of radiometers and other small instruments. He noted that seven universities are about to acquire their own radars, and not having much training in instrumentation, have asked ATD to help put them together. ATD does not have the staff to provide this service.

He pointed out three main weakness in the facility requests that come from universities. First, the requests come in late and the instruments and platforms have already been allocated; the faculty are too busy to plan their courses far enough in advance to be considered in this allocation process. Another problem the universities face is the expense associated with the shipping of instruments and in the support of technologists. Carlson added that ATD is working on making the instruments more mobile to lower the costs. Lastly, even though the money and equipment may be there, the requests do not satisfactorily answer questions on how it fits in the curriculum, is it more than a one-time show and tell, and what is the hands-on benefit. In pointing out that data from the TOPSE field program are on the Web, Carlson said there is a rich resource out there but the difficulty is knowing about it in time to incorporate in one's curriculum.

In the discussion that followed it was brought out that traveling ground-based radars are being used at universities and that the training of students to develop new instruments is being addressed. The more prevailing problem is acquainting students with the use of technology. Some of the suggestions offered were to involve students in field camps and in major research programs. Possible action items for the URC were then discussed. Carlson agreed to make available a short list of NSF's Observing Facilities Advisory Panel (OFAP)'s guidelines for granting education requests; he'll either bring it to the October meeting or mail out to the committee before then. Bretherton suggested a dataset be made available to the university community that would present a picture of all the ATD equipment with a brief description. Carlson agreed to look into this and provide a couple of examples of what would be possible.

2. October Meeting Agenda

After reviewing the general schedule and agenda items for the upcoming October meetings, Fellows noted that the overall topic, "Opportunities and Challenges for the Future," came out of the forum discussion last year. Anthes explained that the community survey, which was generated by the Board, is now out for review and will be mailed to over 2000 people. Droegemeier emphasized the importance of scheduling time for discussion and Anthes pointed out that the agenda items will certainly fuel discussion among the Members. Also discussed was Leinen's availability to talk with the Members and with the Heads & Chairs on the environmental program, her main purview, and also on how to enhance communication between laboratories and universities. The committee also requested a discussion of GEO 2000 be included on the agenda. Jacobs said he would check Leinen's schedule for that week and added that he would that he would also check Jarvis Moyer's schedule. Droegemeier said he would talk with Fred Carr (U of Oklahoma) who is developing the Heads & Chairs' agenda.

The graduate student survey which was sent out mid-March to the UCAR Members was discussed. Trustee Gabor Vali provided the URC with a preliminary report on the survey results. The overall agreement of the URC was that the quality of students was still high but that more work will be required in the recruitment process. Droegemeier pointed out that the recruiting process is much more sophisticated than it was in the past. There is an educated consumer now—students are now asking what can you offer me. Also the market is much more competitive with high tech growth companies offering high salaries. It was agreed that this topic would be revisited after all the surveys were in and final analysis of the data completed.

3. Non-Core Proposal Review

Matt Hitchman, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Review of NCAR and UCAR Office of Programs Non-Core Proposals, reported on the subcommittee's review of 70 proposals, of which 65 were NCAR and five were UOP. The subcommittee (Hitchman, Chris Bretherton, Mingfang Ting, and ex-officio member Droegemeier) found that the majority of the proposals met the criteria. In continuing his report, Hitchman brought up four issues that the subcommittee wished to discuss: university collaboration letters, core benefit, technology transfer, and cosponsorship.

In their review of proposals the subcommittee found 12 proposals that had no collaboration letters, of which eight had co-Investigator's listed on the proposal cover page. Dabberdt replied that if the PI or Co-PI is named on the cover of the proposal, no collaboration letter is requested. There was discussion on how to substantiate this collaboration and on how much should be assumed. In response to this discussion, Dabberdt offered to prepare a document outlining the proposal guidelines, practices that preceded them, and a history of past decisions of the subcommittee during this review process.

Questions on core benefit were addressed next. The subcommittee questioned the legitimacy of proposals that are collaborative with non-UCAR universities or US federal laboratories and proposals that are doing noncollaborative research at NCAR, contributing to NCAR's core mission but are not enhancing community resources. Questions on specific proposals were addressed by the NCAR's director office. The questions were satisfied with additional information on the proposal's work. To prevent this misunderstanding, it was suggested that the subcommittee receive more explicit information.

The subcommittee's third issue was on technology transfer. Hitchman reported that several proposals were purely technology transfer proposals, with no community benefit. He then asked if it would be worthwhile to clarify the policy and add technology transfer to criterion 4, which now states:

"Explain how the activity would contribute to the development or support of community facilities, community models, or other community projects such as field programs, and as such has a demonstrable benefit to the community."

After discussion, it was agreed that Dabberdt would draft up a revised criterion 4, that discussion on this draft would commence via e-mail, and that approval would be requested at the October meeting.

The fourth issue questioned the level of cosponsorship in some of the proposals. In some cases the subcommittee felt that high salary cosponsorship could be construed as unfair competition. It was pointed out that the subcommittee only reviewed the proposed budget and did not see the final budget. In the written response it was noted that only one proposal had cosponsorship over 20% and that this proposal was ultimately strengthening the core program.

Droegemeier thanked the subcommittee for their report and thanked everyone for the resulting dialogue. A new subcommittee was appointed: Bretherton (Chairman), Ken Pickering, and Ting.

Also at this time it was agreed that the next Spring meeting of the URC would meet at the University of Maryland. This venue would facilitate visits from NSF, ENSEP, and NASA officials. Meeting dates will be suggested by Pickering and then the committee will be polled via e-mail on availability.

4. Community Involvement

Droegemeier gave his thoughts on how to stimulate interest from universities. A few of his suggestions were to highlight the joint activities of universities and NCAR, and to target money toward initiatives that require collaboration between university and NCAR scientists. A collaborative grant proposal for a fundamental science project with NCAR and the universities was discussed. He emphasized that there has to be a reason for the university community to learn about NCAR. He added that the burden is on the URC to educate the universities on NCAR activities. The Member Liaison Program was mentioned as another avenue to increase interaction between universities and NCAR; a follow-up on the effectiveness of this program was suggested.

Droegemeier once again thanked Clark for hosting the URC at Millersville University .

The committee adjourned at 5:45pm.

End of Notes


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