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To strengthen its management and oversight capabilities, a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center turned to project management. But it needed a model that suited the academic research environment. It created a unique application of processes and tools developed in collaboration with the researchers, rooted in simplified practices, and dedicated to flexibility and applicability. The results have been remarkable.
The National Science Foundation’s Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction (CMOP) was founded in 2006 to seek better understanding of the complex regions where land becomes ocean. Multidisciplinary researchers are looking for ways to predict the impact of natural forces and human activities near the coast. The focus is on the Columbia River Estuary, near the center’s host institution of Oregon Health and Science University in Beaverton, Ore.
Ranging from studying genes in microorganisms in red tides to using radar to measure internal waves in the river, the work at CMOP is groundbreaking in that the goal is to anticipate catastrophic changes to the coastal margins rather than react to them. It requires unprecedented integration among scientific, social and education fields, creating research “collaboratories,” says Amy Johnson, CMOP managing director.
Lofty goals to be sure.
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