UC Irvine is crowing (albatrossing?) about "one of its boldest experiments yet: a brand-new research and education initiative called UCI OCEANS." No, the eggheads are not filling Aldrich Park with what those geeks in Chem 101 call "H2o." In this instance OCEANS stands for Oceans, Changing Environments, Arts and Nearshore Societies. Think of an interdisciplinary cooperative dedicated to the deep blue sea.
"People really love the ocean," says "Professor Obvious" Adam Martiny.
Actually, Martiny is a UCI professor specializing in ocean plankton and the leader of the new initiative that aims to form tight bonds between the university and the public through the prism of ocean issues.
"The UCI OCEANS committee shares this love of the ocean and feels like there are so many things we could do together," says Martiny in the initiative announcement. "We want to engage with the community, and we hope they'll engage back."
The initiative calls for "forging unprecedented links among science, social science and the arts, as well as governance and law, to improve the natural coastal environment and the well-being of those who live there." They must be serious because they've already made a chart like this:
The program is intended to not only include traditional scientific research but also hands-on K-12 educational programs at Crystal Cove State Park and other local coastal facilities, as well as "citizen science" cruises for adults who want to help collect data for ocean research projects. (And no, "help collect data for ocean research projects" is not a euphemism for "swill drinks with umbrellas in them with blue-haired ladies in a conga line.")
UCI OCEANS-inspired theatrical performances or visual displays are also envisioned, as is a web portal "for all things ocean." (And no, there won't be a link to porpoise porn. This is a state school, dummy!)
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The initiative will begin as a three-year endeavor, although there are hopes it will have enough sea legs to live longer.
UCI OCEANS is helping organize the daylong Building Partnerships for Ocean Health in Southern California conference May 8 at the Arnold & Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences & Engineering on the UCI campus. The public is invited, of course.
For more on UCI OCEANS or the conference, go here: http://oceans.uci.edu/oceans-initiative/.