Newport, RI Beach

Rhode Island’s federal delegation today announced more than $1.8 million in grant funding for oceans research and coastal data archives at the University of Rhode Island (URI).

“A thorough understanding of our oceans, marine life, aquaculture, and coastal areas is crucial to preserving these precious resources, and I’m pleased URI is being awarded these federal funds,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who brought National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Córdova to Rhode Island in April to meet with some of the state’s top researchers, mathematicians, scientists, and engineers from URI, Brown University, and the Rhode Island School of Design.

“Research underway at the University of Rhode Island is helping gauge the effects of climate change here in Rhode Island and around the world,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  “This federal funding will support new oceans research and help preserve natural resources so we can better address the changes affecting life along the coast and in our oceans.”

The National Science Foundation awarded $790,442 to the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography to research the effects of climate change on plankton in the Southern Ocean.  The award will help researchers examine how diatoms, an important component of the plankton community off Antarctica, may respond to changes in ocean temperature and pH.

“Fisheries and marine industries are major components of our economy in the Ocean State, and understanding the marine systems that form the foundation of these industries is essential to maintaining a healthy and fruitful ecosystem.  These funds will allow the University of Rhode Island – the epicenter of marine studies in Rhode Island – to better study and protect our oceans and make our environment more resilient now and in the future,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.

“All of us have a responsibility to be good environmental stewards and preserving the quality of our oceans is a key part of that,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “These significant resources will help create jobs in Rhode Island and preserve our state’s natural beauty.  I congratulate the University of Rhode Island, one of our state’s leading institutions of higher learning, on receiving nearly $2 million in new federal funding.”

The National Science Foundation also awarded $827,739 to the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography to conduct a research expedition to study the North Atlantic spring phytoplankton bloom, a phenomenon that supports the rich fisheries found in the North Atlantic.  The award will help researchers examine the growth of phytoplankton over the New England Shelf and in the open ocean, which occurs in response to the influx of nutrients and sunlight each spring.

“The University is extremely grateful to the members of our congressional delegation for their continuing support of our marine research and outreach initiatives,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “Senators Reed and Whitehouse and Congressmen Langevin and Cicilline recognize the value of the University’s leading research on the health of our oceans, bays and coastal communities. From the study of climate change on plankton to hurricane forecasting and coastal community resilience to sea level rise, the University is providing answers around the globe, across the nation and in the state to these and many other issues.  Rhode Islanders and the University are fortunate to have such forward-thinking statesmen working on their behalf.”

The University of Rhode Island has also been awarded $235,000 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for new and expanded programs at the National Sea Grant Library.  A partnership between universities and the federal government, the National Sea Grant College Program works to better the conservation and development of ocean and coastal resources.  The library, located at the University of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay Campus, is the official archive of the Sea Grant program and is home to thousands of Sea Grant-funded reports and other documents from across the country.

The Sea Grant program has its roots in Rhode Island.  Senator Claiborne Pell introduced legislation creating the program in 1966 after consulting with leading ocean scientists, including founder and former Dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography Dr. John Knauss.

Professor Tatiana Rynearson is the lead Principal Investigator (PI) for both grants from the NSF. Associate Professor Bethany Jenkins is a co-PI for the phytoplankton bloom study.  GSO Research Coordinator Cynthia Murray is the PI for the grant from NOAA.

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