Education


NOAA has become increasingly aware of the problems it faces over the coming years in replacing a rapidly aging workforce.   CIMAS along with the other Cooperative Institutes has served as a pipeline for recruitment into NOAA,  and all the universities in our proposed Partnership have been graduating masters or doctoral students with the scientific expertise required by the future NOAA Workforce. Extensive examples are given in Appendix D:  Partner Capability Statements.  That said, a great deal more is needed in this regard.    Described below are some of the graduate, undergraduate, minority services and other educational opportunities that would be available to NOAA through the new CIMAS.  In accordance with the Announcement of Opportunity and the prior history of CIMAS, it is our understanding that the education funding actually made available to the new CIMAS, and therefore the activities eventually under taken, will be determined on a project by project basis.

Graduate

The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science offers graduate instruction leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Science (MS) degrees through academic divisions that include Marine Biology and Fisheries, Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry, Marine Geology and Geophysics, Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, and Applied Marine Physics. Though graduate students typically concentrate in one of these curricular areas, interdisciplinary study is encouraged and coursework can be tailored to the individual student. In addition, we offer the Master of Arts (MA) and MS degrees in Marine Affairs and Policy for students who wish to pursue careers in marine policy and management.  The University of Miami School of Law and the Rosenstiel School also offer a joint degree program in law and marine affairs and policy (JD and MA degrees awarded). Currently there are about 200 students enrolled in the RSMAS graduate program, two thirds of which are PhDs. 

To assist in attaining our main objectives, a sub-unit was created within CIMAS, the Cooperative Unit for Fisheries Education and Research (CUFER). CUFER was established in 1992 in response to a need for the development of improved methods for quantitative assessment of fishery populations, and as a source of advice for a range of topics concerning resource sustainability. These activities complement the NOAA/NMFS mission of resource stewardship. CUFER offers the opportunity to work on research issues with long-time horizons, an advantage afforded by academic research. The educational goal of CUFER is to train students (graduate and post-doctoral) in state-of-the-art theory and applications of quantitative fishery science, a critical expertise area to support management for sustainability of US fishery resources.

Many graduates of these UM/RSMAS programs have joined the NOAA workforce, mainly at the NOAA AOML and SEFSC laboratories and at NOAA headquarters but also at other NOAA laboratories throughout the US.  This training pipeline for NOAA jobs was greatly facilitated by CIMAS activities such as

  1. collaborative research teams between NOOA Scientists, and CIMAS faculty and graduate students;
  2. funding of graduate students with the support of NOAA fellowships and graduate research assistantships; and
  3. participation of NOAA scientists from Miami laboratories in student mentoring and teaching.  

The new CIMAS will expand these activities to include graduate students in other partner institutions thus increasing the number of students potentially impacted and the diversity of scientific areas in which they can receive training.

The University of Miami has recently developed Masters of Professional Science (MPS) intended for students who seek advanced training in marine and atmospheric science, while also cultivating a blend of team-building and communication skills, legal and regulatory knowledge, and business savvy, that should be highly valued by potential employers. This program prepares students for science careers in business, government, or nonprofit organizations where employment demands are growing. The curriculum is structured to allow students to complete their degree in as little as 12 months, with the training and real-world experience necessary to prepare them for entry to mid-level careers in today’s professional job market. In addition to two semesters of intensive course work this degree will offer internship in government NGOs and business to their graduates. Examples of some of these Masters are the ones developed for Meteorology and Fisheries science. 

Although the host institution has offered an extensive graduate program relevant to NOAA, most of the Partner Universities in the new CIMAS offer similar opportunities. For example: 

The newly formed School of Environment and Society (SEAS) at FIU unites the natural and social sciences and humanities in order to understand how both human and natural factors affect the environment and how people relate to it.  By bringing together faculty and students from diverse disciplines, SEAS will broadly train the next generation of environmental scientists and policy makers. SEAS is in the process of developing interdisciplinary graduate programs at the Master’s and PhD levels.

The University of Florida offers graduate instruction leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD),  Master of Science (MS), and Master of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (MFAS) degrees through the program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences housed within the School of Forest Resources and Conservation. The PhD  degree is designed to train graduate students in fundamental science and its application to the study of fishery and aquatic resource problems. Students entering a PhD program typically desire careers as researchers or teachers with academic institutions, government agencies or the private sector. The MS degree program is designed to train graduate students for entry-level, professional positions in fisheries biology, aquatic resource management, aquaculture, aquatic animal health, and related areas; and to provide a solid, scientific foundation for further graduate work leading to the PhD degree. The MFAS degree program is designed to train students in the technical aspects of fisheries and aquatic sciences with emphasis on written and oral communication of scientific information.

With the collaboration of CIMAS and CIOERT, as well as other partner institutions, academic programs could be developed in Marine Science and Technology, recognizing the importance of integrating technology into ocean science education for NOAA workforce development. Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has the first graduate program in Ocean Engineering in the nation and inter-disciplinary academic programs could be developed to assist in cross-disciplinary training of PhD, MS and marine science and ocean engineering professionals. There is also the advantage of cross-disciplinary training of ocean engineers in marine sciences for the long-term sustainability of ocean ecosystems, through the development of an understanding of multi-sector marine ecosystem services.

Last, an exciting concept under discussion amongst our faculties is whether the new CIMAS can facilitate development of a joint graduate degree program that could take advantage of UM/RSMAS strength in Tropical Cyclone prediction and FIU strength in Tropical Cyclone mitigation.  This would build upon the complementary Tropical Weather research capabilities of CIMAS.

Undergraduate

The Rosenstiel School offers two undergraduate degree options, a Bachelor of Science in Marine and Atmospheric Science with majors in Marine Science and Meteorology and a Bachelor of Arts in Marine Affairs. As of fall 2009, 248 students were enrolled in the program. The MSC curriculum is designed to take full advantage of the University’s subtropical location, with year-round access to a variety of specialized marine environments including the deep ocean waters offshore, the coral reef tracts of the Florida Keys, and the estuarine sea grass beds and mangrove shoreline of South Florida. Students are introduced to the general complexities of the ocean and atmosphere through lectures, laboratories and field trips. Undergraduate students are encouraged to work with the faculty in their laboratories, and are able to earn course credit by conducting independent research under the supervision of leading scientists  in their field. The transfer of the administration of this program to RSMAS has created a more vibrant undergraduate experience for students and enhanced opportunities for undergraduate research.  Many of these research experiences take advantage of the collaborative research links between RSMAS and the AOML and SEFSC NOAA labs.


NOAA might also consider implementing a program through CIMAS a program modeled upon the enormously successful USDOE Science and Technology Workforce Development Program conducted at FIU by the Applied Research Center and College of Engineering.   Such a program would necessarily involve internships and extended collaborative projects at federal (in this case NOAA Sponsor) facilities. and could perhaps be integrated with present NOAA  recruitment/training efforts such as the COOP program administered by the NOAA Education Office. The USDOE program is described in detail in Appendix D-2. 

Minority Service

Five of the University members of the proposed institute (UM, FIU, UVI, UPRM and NOVA) are all designated Minority Serving Institutions.  UM faculty already participate in two NOAA/EPP funded Cooperative Research Centers, the LMRCSC and the ECSC, that have been successfully increasing the diversity of applicants to NOAA science jobs by graduating a number of minority students with MSc and PhD degrees. The new CIMAS with its larger pool of minority students, will help in the success of the EPP Centers and thereby increase the diversity of the potential NOAA workforce.  At FIU one innovative initiative aimed at supporting research and training among underrepresented groups should be highlighted: the Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) Program which encompasses the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement Program (RISE).

Other

Other educational aspects of the new CIMAS would include Postdoctoral Positions, a Visiting Scientist Program as well as Training through CIMAS-supported Workshops.

CIMAS had an active fisheries postdoctoral program that actively attracted bright scientists with the aim of offering the opportunities of collaboration with NOAA scientists that would enhance their ability to join the NOAA workforce.  In the last eight years of CIMAS, for instance, at least six CIMAS postdoctoral have joined the SEFSC and are now NOAA employees. Most of these positions were related to stock assessment or economics. In addition to continuing this program we propose and budget a CIMAS institutional Post-Doctoral appointment to be nationally and internationally advertised.  This would be sufficiently prestigious that it would attract outstanding candidates.   The topical emphasis could be annually rotated amongst the research themes.  This position would emphasize interdisciplinary and multi-institutional collaboration amongst the Universities and the local NOAA facilities.   Other cooperative institutes offer such positions as did CIMAS in prior years although not under the most recent Cooperative Agreement. 

Visiting Scientists will continue to be an integral part of the new CIMAS. Visits of experts will range from a week to a few weeks and will aim to increase collaborative opportunities between these visitors,  new CIMAS scientists, those at CI partners and those at NOAA facilities.  The new CIMAS would support both visits that are fully funded by us, and others that are only partially funded,  to facilitate the travel and accommodation of the visitors.  It is expected that these visits will continue to produce collaborative proposals, scientific papers and a vibrant seminar series as they have in the past.  Seminars will be provided to all Partner Universities through video conferencing or internet-based communication infrastructure.

CIMAS has offered many educational and research workshops aiming at providing University of Miami and NOAA scientists opportunities for training in state of the art software and analysis tools (e.g. ATLANTIS, Framework for Management Strategy Evaluation, New methods for Relative Abundance estimation, Bayesian methods with Winbugs). Such activities would continue in the new CIMAS and would be expanded to provide opportunities for participation by the scientists at the new Partner Universities.