Rhode Island R/V Endeavor Program:
State support for marine research and education at URI's GSO

Since 2005, the State's annual budget has allocated $500,000 for support of operations of the research vessel Endeavor, which has been operated and managed by URI's Graduate School of Oceanography for over 30 years. The GSO Dean administers the funds via the "Rhode Island Endeavor Program" (RIEP), described elsewhere on this website. The purpose of RIEP is to provide Rhode Islanders with direct access to the scientific research and educational capabilities of an ocean-going research vessel. To this end, the Dean has constituted an "Endeavor Advisory Committee" (EndAC) to provide advice and guidance on the administration of the RIEP. Terms of reference for EndAC, and the current membership, are provided on this website. EndAC solicits, reviews, and prioritizes projects and activities to use state funding in affiliation with the R/V Endeavor according to a process presented on this website. EndAC recommends projects for support, and the GSO Dean makes final funding decisions.

Rhode Island has a long tradition of valuing the sea, an integral part of our economy and culture. The identity of Ocean State citizens is tied to fishing, marine scientific research, ocean recreation, and marine technology development and manufacturing.The Rhode Island Endeavor Program (RIEP) is a state-supported initiative that underscores Rhode Island's commitment to maintaining a strong program in marine research and education.

In recognizing the importance of the ocean to Rhode Islanders, state leadership created a $500K initiative in the FY05 state budget to enhance marine-related scientific and technological research, education, and training. RIEP is the state's first direct financial support for the University of Rhode Island's (URI) research vessel, R/V Endeavor. The Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO), which operates the vessel, is internationally recognized for excellence in research and education. GSO is ranked (by the Institute for Science Information) number 5 in the world, after Harvard and Columbia, in terms of the impact of our geoscience research papers (defined as average citations per paper published during 1991-2001). GSO's PhD program in oceanography is also rated fifth in the country by National Research Council.

State support enables the state's scientists, engineers, educators, and students to access a well-equipped, multi-purpose ocean-going research platform that was previously restricted to users supported by federal and other non-state funding. More information about RIEP, including projects supported in recent years, is available on the GSO website (www.gso.uri.edu). URI/GSO hopes to see State support continued in the coming fiscal year and beyond. Such support is especially important in light of the increasingly competitive environment we are in.

RIEP accomplishes several goals. First, it provides Rhode Islanders with direct access to R/V Endeavor, a first-class scientific and educational facility.As a direct result, the vessel has been used for teacher training activities and will soon be used for marine technical training and outreach to commercial fishermen. Second, the Program fosters and sustains new partnerships in the state involving a range of academic and educational institutions, industry, and other non-governmental organizations. Third, the Program establishes a foundation of state support that demonstrates to federal funding agencies Rhode Island's continued interest in and commitment to operating a large marine research vessel based at URI's GSO on Narragansett Bay.

With respect to this last goal, we note that Endeavor arrived in Rhode Island in 1976 and is nearing the end of its anticipated lifespan. And academic-based research vessels in other states are in similar situations. As a result, the NSF is planning a competitive process for a replacement vessel, and Rhode Island will have to vie against institutions for a limited number of vessels. NSF encourages cost sharing of vessel operational expenses. Institutions in some states, including Massachusetts, Hawaii, Washington, Texas, Delaware, Florida, and California have been receiving state and or institutional support for several years for their vessels. Support from the State of Rhode Island will now enable Rhode Islanders to compete on a level playing field.

Programmatic Focus
The RIEP is a system of services, opportunities, and projects involving R/V Endeavor. The Program emphasizes scientific marine research, education, and technical training that requires a sea-going platform. Given the user community, the program sustains a thoughtful and balanced operational schedule and enhances our ability to acquire special equipment or to modify the vessel and affiliated facilities to upgrade its capabilities. The program encourages activities that boost or promote partnerships, such as developing new technologies for research and industrial applications.

State funds are used to provide sea time on Endeavor in order to conduct scientific experiments, to test equipment and techniques, and to train and educate students. Funds are also invested in programs, systems and infrastructure necessary to maintain Endeavor's capabilities and those of a successor vessel.

Opportunities to participate in RIEP are openly announced, and the procedure for prioritizing and selecting projects is presented on GSO's website. Any proposal to use the Endeavor must: (a) contain a research, educational, and/or development component; (b) present an operational plan that is consistent with US Coast Guard and University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) rules and regulations; and (c) accept that UNOLS-scheduled research cruises are the highest priority in developing operational schedules. Requests For Proposals (RFP) address evaluation criteria, and the Endeavor Advisory Committee (EndAC) uses those criteria to score and rank the RFP responses. Following evaluation and prioritization of the projects, EndAC presents recommendations to the GSO Dean who makes final decisions on support for projects and is ultimately responsible for expenditure of RIEP funds.

R/V Endeavor
The R/V Endeavor is a 185-foot, general-purpose oceanographic research ship home-ported in Narragansett, RI and operated by URI/GSO. It is part of the UNOLS, supported by the NSF. Information about UNOLS and about the ship's capabilities, schedule, and availability for use may be found at www.UNOLS.org. A pre-cruise questionnaire for Endeavor is available at: http://techserv.gso.uri.edu/CruiseQ/Qair.asp.

The Dean of the GSO oversees the RIEP. An Endeavor Advisory Committee (EndAC) has been constituted, and the membership is listed on the RIEP webpage. EndAC operates according to Terms of Reference, also listed on the website. Funding for RIEP, through an appropriation of state funds to URI/GSO, will be administered through a GSO account.

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