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UH receives $40 million gift for oceanography research

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 12:23 p.m. HST, Jun 16, 2014

University of Hawaii researchers will lead a new $40 million oceanography research project that represents the largest-ever philanthropic gift to UH.

David Karl and Edward DeLong, professors in Manoa's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, were awarded the funds by the Simons Foundation to lead the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology, or SCOPE.

The New York City-based foundation is run by mathematician and billionaire founder of Renaissance Technologies, Jim Simons.

The university said the SCOPE project aims to advance understanding of the microscopic organisms that inhabit every drop of seawater and how those creatures control the movement and exchange of energy and nutrients.

"This award will allow us to continue ongoing research at Station Aloha -- a site 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) due north of Kahuku Point, where since 1988 the University of Hawaii has been conducting major research operations," Karl said at a press conference Monday alongside the 186-foot Kilo Moana research vessel used to carry out the work.

DeLong added, "Most of the organisms we're studying were only discovered about 20 years ago, and that's one of the reasons for this project, really, is to dig deep into what makes these organisms tick and how they operate together to sustain the ecosystem out at Station Aloha."

"We're going to use a lot of different technologies to bring to bear on this question, and that ranges from automated robots that can sample and sense autonomously -- you could think of them as peaceful underwater drones -- as well as genomic technologies," he said.

UH President David Lassner said the funding demonstrates the university's ability to build an economic sector from innovative research.

"A lot of people have wondered, 'Can we really be serious about building a $1 billion research industry in this state. And I think this is an example of how we'll do it," Lassner said. "It isn't just going to the federal government and cranking in more proposals, but it's captivating the interest of philanthropists and partners around the country and around the world to begin to build this investment in a research and innovation economy for Hawaii that advances the frontiers of human knowledge."

The award will be given over five years, with the first $8 million installment expected on July 1, Karl said.

UH is leading the project, with partners joining from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, University of California-Santa Cruz and University of Washington.

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CriticalReader wrote:
The oceanography department should give $5 million of it to Athletics. After all, Athletics is the front porch of the universty, and it builds interest and application numbers in the university. And, The GOVERNOR promised Athletics would be supported anyway. So, oceanography may be on the "hit list" next legislative session if it doesn't "do the right thing" and cough up some of the gains it got off the backs of UHAD (JUST LIKE HOW THE STADIUM AND THE COTHES SELLER PART OF UH USES AND ABUSES UHAD).
on June 16,2014 | 11:39AM
Papakolea wrote:
Good one. Maybe they should give $200,000 to Stevie Wonder too.
on June 16,2014 | 11:53AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Isn't it time to give the new UH president a raise?
on June 16,2014 | 12:05PM
CriticalReader wrote:
Or a housing allowance at the very least.
on June 16,2014 | 12:55PM
CriticalReader wrote:
You have to give money to stevie Wonder through his representatives. NOW! Or else, he won't do a concert here.
on June 16,2014 | 12:55PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
You guys, you can't do that from a grant! Especially one for scientific research! That one the questionable VC got thru his mother's connections w WoodsHole! She was a LNG standing donor to it!but even so the science has to be right for such a grant! Not like the Nobama Lib!
on June 16,2014 | 09:50PM
jomama wrote:
Give me a break.
on June 16,2014 | 07:16PM
csdhawaii wrote:
CONGRATULATIONS are in order. This is an amazing accomplishment.
on June 16,2014 | 12:14PM
Venus1 wrote:
Refreshing post! Someone appreciates the University!
on June 16,2014 | 02:35PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
I am sure all the high paid administrators and development officers appreciate it too.. As I'm sure MRC still appreciates her retirement! Now if we could not get Hinshaw off island! And the Chi see minion now in charge of the search for the student's VC!
on June 16,2014 | 09:53PM
808comp wrote:
At least something is on the right track at UH.
on June 16,2014 | 12:23PM
For $40 Million-the athletic department would be on track too.
on June 16,2014 | 03:39PM
KWAY wrote:
Although I advocate for advanced scientific research that will help preserve the ocean, that is a mountain of money. Who's monitoring its use is needed, productive, and recorded for inspection. What exactly are they using or performing that's worth $40M? Are they going to spend it just for spending's sake? I hope it doesnt wind up being the $500 screwdriver deal all over again. They should use some of that to help lower tuitions, absolutely NOT for sports. Talk about waste and fraud ...
on June 16,2014 | 04:21PM
cliffn wrote:
Nuff silly comments. You can be sure that the Simons Foundation (a non-profit which funds research in science and math) and the participating universities have agreed on exactly what kind of ocean science research will be done. This is not a no-strings-attached gift.
on June 16,2014 | 04:56PM
oldmom wrote:
Actually they have not agreed on what research will be done. The money has been allocated and they can do what they want with it, dole it out to whoever they deem worthy, or owe a favor. $500 screwdrivers sounds about right. Just track what has been done with NSF and Moore Foundation funds for the same research.
on June 16,2014 | 10:24PM
klastri wrote:
It's really clear that you don't understand how grants are administered and monitored. So why comment on it? Just to criticize something you don't know anything about? This is great news for the university, and they deserve to be congratulated.
on June 16,2014 | 08:16PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
They also don't seem to realize it is private money and they can donate it who THEY want to donate it to for whatever research they want to. The University accepts or declines the money based on whether or not they want to abide by the restrictions.
on June 16,2014 | 09:55PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
See our university has much more to offer than Norm Chow.
on June 17,2014 | 01:18AM
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