. "Keynote Lecture The Emergence of the National Science Foundation as a Supporter of Ocean Sciences in the United States." 50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950-2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000.
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50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950—2000
tigation Mapping and Predication (CLIMAP) program.19 These large multi-investigator programs that reached full flower in the IDOE have continued to constitute a significant fraction of NSF's ocean budget.20
One reason these large programs continue is because they generate interesting, often exciting, science, and they appear to be cost-effective. I also believe that an unanticipated positive contribution of these programs is that they teach a degree of cooperation, mutual respect for different approaches and personalities, and an understanding of institutional complexities. Scientists who participate in—some might suggest those who survive—these large multi-investigator, multi-institutional programs generally come away with a deeper understanding of their colleagues and the various ways of achieving their own goals.
I do not wish to imply that scientific cooperation is unique to oceanography. Joint investigations and joint papers are the rule, not the exception, in science; and much organization and cooperation is required to gain the maximum effectiveness from such large pieces of equipment as telescopes, satellites, high-energy machines, or deep-sea drilling vessels. Committees of the National Research Council and others are well equipped to outline important problems that require attention. But I do believe it is relatively rare in science to not only have a problem first defined by a committee, but then to have a committee outline the approach, determine what kinds of scientific specialists are required to successfully implement the approach, provide a steering committee to ensure that there are no significant holes in the combined proposals, make certain that deadlines are met, and do all of the other chores necessary to ensure that the whole of the multi-investigator program is greater than the sum of its parts.
Joint programs of this kind are not to everyone's taste, nor do I expect many to make a career of participating in such programs one after another, but I do believe that large multi-investigator programs contribute to the education of those who participate and that oceanography is a stronger field today because so many have been associated with at least one such program. I have no proof, and others may disagree, but it is my sense in talking to colleagues who have been so involved, that they have a deeper understanding of what it takes to mount a successful science program (whether it be single or multi-investigator, small science or large science). They know how to go about it, and they have a confidence that they can succeed. I believe NSF's multi-investigator, multi-institutional programs, which started with the IDOE and continue today, have contributed significantly to all of oceanography, both big science and small.
In summary, oceanography in this country was jump-started during World War II, and the Office of Naval Research was there immediately after the war to support and to expand the field. The formation of the National Science Foundation in 1950 began a slow, 20-year passing of the torch of primary support from ONR to NSF that was completed in 1970 with the start of the IDOE and the passage of the Mansfield Amendment. Both agencies deserve major credit for ensuring that the transition went as smoothly as it did. For those of us who were supported during this period it was sometimes difficult to remember which agency was responsible for which support. There were few hiccups as we transitioned from one grant or contract to another.
Fifty years of partnership between those who practice science and those who support science result in cultural patterns that we sometimes take for granted. As I reflect on how oceanography has been supported and is supported in other parts of the world, I see several examples of NSF's way of doing things that I believe have been important to the development of oceanography in this country. The first, of course, is the peer-reviewed grant proposal system, which pervades all of NSF and has been widely discussed for many years. Two others are peculiar to oceanography and may be less obvious, but I believe each has played an important role in the development of both oceanographic institutions and oceanographers in this country. They are institutional support of ships through the UNOLS program and the sponsorship of multi-investigator, multi-institutional programs that began with the IDOE. As NSF looks back on 50 years of support for oceanography, it has much of which to be proud.
See Lambert and Purdy et al., references 7 and 13.