The University of Hawaii has received the largest private foundation gift ever for its work in ocean ecology.
Forty million dollars was awarded by The Simons Foundation to Edward DeLong and David Karl, professors in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. The award is to fund the work of the two co-directors to lead the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Process and Ecology, or SCOPE. The program will use the field site Station ALOHA, located a little more than 62 miles north of Oahu.
SCOPE is one of the programs of the Simons Foundation’s division of Life Sciences, which aims to advance basic research in life sciences.
The announcement of the award was made at a press conference Monday at the UH Marine Center on Sand Island, in front of the docked research vessel the Kilo Moana.
The program aims to further our understanding of the microscopic organisms that inhabit every drop of seawater by utilizing a range of advanced technologies, and how those tiny creatures control the movement and exchange of energy and nutrients.
Microorganisms in the sea are responsible for producing oxygen that we breathe. They form the base of the food web for all of the fisheries of the world, and they are the organisms that can degrade human-produced pollutants.
SCOPE will be a multi-institutional collaboration with inaugural partners at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Washington.
The program also signals the launch of the Hawaii Innovation Initiative, which works in partnership with the private sector and government to build a third major economic sector for the state in the field of innovative research, in hopes of creating high-quality, living-wage jobs.
DeLong is the first scientist to be hired by UH under the auspices of the initiative.