UCAR University Relations Committee Meeting
6-7 April 2005
Narragansett, Rhode Island
The University Relations Committee met at the University of Rhode Island in Narragansett, Rhode Island on 6-7 April 2005.
WEDNESDAY, 6 APRIL
1. Welcome Remarks
Chairman John Merrill convened the meeting and welcomed the committee to the University of Rhode Island. Because of the upcoming competition for management of NCAR, conflict-of-interest statements were passed out to the committee for their signature. The agenda was reviewed and approved by the committee.
2. Opening Remarks
UCAR President Rick Anthes thanked John Merrill for hosting the URC. He said that with all the issues currently facing the community—BASC review, competition of NCAR’s management, NASA’s future—the URC is being asked to become more involved than in the past. He asked for the URC’s thoughtful guidance on revising NCAR’s Strategic Plan.
3. October 2004 Meeting Notes
Merrill reviewed the draft notes from the October 2004 meeting. The committee approved the notes with no changes.
4. NSF Report
Bernard Grant, Financial Operations Specialist in ATM’s UCAR & Lower-Atmosphere Facilities, reported that NSF’s budget for FY06 increased by 2.4% from FY05, with Major Research Equipment & Facilities Construction showing the largest increase (43.9%) and Research & Related Activities remaining relatively flat with an increase of 2.7%. Grant pointed out that Education & Human Resources decreased by 12.4%, explaining while some programs are winding down, other programs in elementary and high school education are being cut.
He reported on the increase of proposals received by NSF (40,000 for FY06) and the resulting low success rate—Geoscience’s overall approval rate is 21%. As a result, NSF will send out more focused requests, thereby limiting the number of proposals received. He briefed the committee on the review of NCAR, which occurs midway through the Cooperative Agreement (March 2006), and pointed out this review will differ from previous ones in that it will be conducted at the institution not division level, will be focused on the strategic direction, and will be supplemented by ad hoc mail reviews, if necessary.
5. UCAR, NCAR and UOP Status Reports
UCAR President Rick Anthes reported on the usefulness of the UCAR monthly update, on the construction of CG1 and FLO, on the success of the child care center, and on the basically flat funded FY06 budget. He briefed the committee on the year-long metrics study and on the updating of the 2001 Community Survey, and announced Frank Cushing’s new position of Chief of Staff on the House Appropriations Committee.
Jack Fellows, UOP Director and Vice-President of Corporate Affairs, in his overview of the eight programs of UOP, highlighted the success of COMET’s training programs and educational material and the continuing expansion of GLOBE. He announced that Karyn Sawyer, former director of JOSS, has accepted the position as Associate Director of EOL (Earth Observing Laboratory) and in the transition some of the activities of JOSS will move into EOL, but that the field campaigns will be left in JOSS. In conclusion, Fellows emphasized the importance of the community to be united in advocacy for strong science funding, because the current issues of interest to Congress are war, taxes and social security, not science.
NCAR Director Tim Killeen reported that the NCAR Executive Committee was now in place with the final associate director appointment, Diana Josephson of SERE Laboratory. He continued by reporting that a zero-base budget review was conducted by the NCAR Executive Committee. He listed other items of interest: NCAR is currently undergoing a survey of collaborative activities, the fourth wave of Scientist I’s are being interviewed and six Senior Scientists have opted for the phased retirement package, and new facilities are being constructed for ACD and HAO. He noted the growth in peer-reviewed and collaborative publications, attributing it to the increase in the number of young scientists and the increased focus on interdisciplinary research. He reported that NCAR’s FY06 budget decreased by 2%, resulting in downsizing some NCAR programs. He concluded his remarks by listing a few of NCAR’s highlights, some of which were: HIAPER – to be deployed FY06, the National Lambda Rail (NLR) – to be fully operational this summer, and RICO – a successful field program that had student participation as a major component of the project.
6. Review of Non-Core and Non-NSF Proposals
Subcommittee Chairwoman Kerry Cook reported on the ten proposals, selected from proposals submitted during the period July through December 2004, that were examined by the subcommittee (Cook, Jim Hansen, Michael Morgan, and ex-officio John Merrill). Cook voiced the subcommittee’s concern on the responses to collaboration; in some proposals not enough information was supplied to show convincing collaboration. It was suggested that the subcommittee speak directly to the NCAR or UOP Director’s Office and either request additional information or request the full proposal. Merrill requested that the procedure statement be revised to reflect the above suggestion. By having direct contact with the Director Offices during their review, the subcommittee will then resolve any issues they have before the URC meeting. The role of postdocs in proposals was discussed and the subcommittee requested that more explicit information be provided on their work. After additional discussion on salary support for NCAR employees, the URC accepted the Subcommittee report.
7. Update on the NCAR Faculty Fellowship Program
Sepi Yalda, Chairwoman of the URC subcommittee appointed to review applicants to the NCAR Faculty Fellowship Program, reported on their results. Yalda named the subcommittee members—David Karoly, Everette Joseph and Lisa White—and then reviewed the selection criteria used for the ranking of applicants. She said that each member reviewed the applicant material and that they all came up with the same ranking for the five applicants, independently. She added that the subcommittee thought there were too few applicants and also that the timeline was too short.
The URC endorsed the subcommittee’s selection of applicants; the ranked list will be given to the ASP Director for final selection. In trying to increase the applicant pool in the future, the URC recommended that the Faculty Fellowship Program be advertised at the October Members’ meeting.
Rajul Pandya, Director of Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS), outlined this very successful undergraduate summer program for ethnically diverse students. He continued by stating that this internship provides students with opportunities for research and access to mentors, experience in giving presentations at science meetings and in writing seminars, and advice on how to get into graduate school. Pandya then offered scenarios to broaden the participation of SOARS throughout the community, one of which was to coordinate a national summer internship with universities and other National Labs. In the discussion that followed, the need to target students in community colleges and to expand the scope of research opportunities was expressed. The URC ended the discussion by endorsing SOARS and pledging to encourage the participation of UCAR members in the next SOARS proposal.
9. Revised NCAR Strategic Plan and the NSF Competition for the Management of NCAR
Anthes started the discussion on NSF’s competition for NCAR’s management by stressing the importance of confidentiality to ensure a clean and fair process.
Killeen reported that in October 2001 the Trustees approved the NCAR strategic plan, NCAR as an Integrator. Killeen asked the URC to help in the revision of this document. The URC agreed to provide comments on the current version and ideas for the planned revision to Merrill who would then compile the written statements and forward the compilation to Anthes and Killeen by April 15. Killeen added that a retreat in July will be organized to discuss the Strategic Plan revision and that he hoped for URC participation.
Science Talks by University of Rhode Island Students
The following students from the Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) gave presentations to the URC: Heather Saffert on measuring water quality, Tobias Kukulka on the dynamics of air-sea interaction, Colleen Mouw on biological oceanography, and Matt O’Reagan on Arctic ice core drilling.
The meeting recessed for a reception held at the University Club on the Kingston campus of the University of Rhode Island.
THURSDAY, 7 April
An informal breakfast was held with the URC and invited graduate students from the University of Rhode Island.
10. Planning for the October Members’ Meeting Agenda
In discussing the agenda for the Members’ Meeting, Fellows suggested the following ideas: having an open house, inviting an advocacy keynote speaker, and having the reception at the new HIAPER hangar.
The URC was enthusiastic about having an Open House at the October meeting and then discussed the possibility of also inviting an advocacy speaker. Gene Takle stressed the importance of having a two-way interaction during the Open House, of sharing views between university and NCAR scientists, and of having the participation of young scientists. The time constraints involved in allowing Members to tour more than one site were questioned. Other concerns expressed were keeping the size of the group small enough to foster meaningful interaction, pitching the talks at a level that is important to the general atmospheric scientist, and keeping the reporting to a minimum in order to encourage dialog. Merrill concluded that a program committee was needed to decide topics and to make the meeting interactive—S.T. Wu and Gene Takle were appointed to work with UCAR staff on the format of the October meeting.
11. Unstructured Discussion
Merrill reported on the Richard Grotjahn complaint—the loss of “atmospheric science” in the name of the new lab – Earth & Sun Systems. It was noted that many universities are having this trend in broadening the names of their departments and becoming more interdisciplinary in nature. Merrill said that he responded to Grotjahn in February, saying that after consideration of this matter, no action to discuss alternative names for the laboratories will be pursued.
Jim Hansen then questioned the utility of the liaison role. Some URC members were supportive of the role while some expressed no strong feeling one way or another. It was pointed out that the liaison served as another avenue of interaction between NCAR and universities and while the reports to the URC might not be useful, the direct interaction between the URC member and the division is beneficial. Also noted was that ATD and SCD have advisory panels and meetings in place that are ideal for liaison interaction. Merrill concluded that this issue needs to be fleshed out and discussed at a later time.
The committee went into Executive Session at 11am and adjourned at noon.
~ End of Notes ~