Traveling from as far as New Zealand and Germany, ocean scientists recently gathered at the University of Delaware for the Third SCOR Summit of International Marine Research Projects. The event provided the visitors — more than 15 representatives from major global ocean research and observation projects — an opportunity to discuss common opportunities and issues.
The March 30–April 1 summit was organized by the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), which promotes international cooperation related to oceanographic research and is housed at UD’s College of Marine and Earth Studies (CMES). Approximately 300 scientists from 35 nations are involved in SCOR activities.
During the summit, which was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, participants touched on topics including data management and specific projects such as the Census of Marine Life. One of the event’s sessions was devoted to ways SCOR can enhance its capacity building efforts, activities to stimulate the development of ocean research in developing countries.
SCOR is well known for such programs. It has been doing them since the early 1960s, shortly after SCOR was formed by the International Council for Science. Today, about 25 percent of countries that participate in SCOR are from the developing world, including Brazil, Chile, China, Ecuador, India, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, and Turkey.
With so much ocean research being conducted on a global scale, it is important to involve scientists from developing countries, said SCOR Executive Director Ed Urban.
“It is to every country’s benefit if we can help train scientists throughout the world,” he said.
SCOR’s current capacity building efforts include providing journal articles and books to libraries in 33 countries and offering travel grants for developing country scientists to attend ocean science meetings. During a typical three-year grant cycle, approximately 250 individual scientists from 45 countries receive full or partial travel support to attend meetings. SCOR also includes developing country scientists in all of its groups.
At the summit, participants discussed the development of regional graduate schools of oceanography, which would bring together a critical mass of resources to provide ocean science education in developing regions. They also received an update on several different summer schools for graduate students that provide up to two weeks of intensive ocean science training.
“We generated new ideas and excitement about our capacity building efforts,” Urban said. “We learned there is a lot of interest in attracting more involvement from scientists in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and other developing regions, so I look forward to seeing the outreach efforts of SCOR and our partners continue to expand.”
Next month, another group of international scientists will visit UD for a SCOR event, this time for a workshop on aquatic viral ecology. The May 14–16 event will be hosted by the SCOR Working Group on The Role of Viruses in Marine Ecosystems.
For more about SCOR, visit www.scor-int.org. To learn about CMES, visit www.ocean.udel.edu.