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Collaboration Between USGS and University Benefits Both

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The following article is from the Summer 1999 issue of IMS News, the newsletter of the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. CMG maintains a liaison office there, staffed part time by about half a dozen team members. The article is reprinted with permission from the author and newsletter editor, Julia Davenport.


By Julia Davenport

The USGS Monterey Bay liaison office at UCSC is becoming an integral component of the campus. USGS has a cooperative agreement with IMS that provides graduate student support, computer facilities, and, most importantly, daily interactions between USGS scientists and UCSC faculty and students.

"Our emphasis is on developing an integrative research program with faculty and students based on applied aspects of Earth and marine science research," says Mike Field, senior USGS marine geologist.

"The collaboration has been absolutely fabulous," says Curt Storlazzi, a third year Ph.D. student whose primary advisor is Gary Griggs. Storlazzi and six other graduate students work closely with Field, Bruce Jaffe, and Bruce Richmond. The three USGS scientists at UCSC specialize in areas of marine sedimentation and stratigraphy, coastal marine processes and hazards, and geologic processes in coral reefs and fragile marine habitats."

"As with any collaboration, it only works as well as a function of who's involved and the enthusiasm they bring," says Storlazzi. "I couldn't be working with a better group." Storlazzi says Field, Jaffe, and Richmond contribute to general research efforts above and beyond what any USGS researcher would be expected to. "I wouldn't be anywhere near as far as I am if it hadn't been for the co-op."

Essential to the successful merging of minds is the Coastal Geology Imaging Lab (CGIL) funded in part by the USGS and developed several years ago in Griggs' lab. The lab with its computerized processing equipment is a beehive of activity. "It attracts folks who are constantly learning and teaching each other," says Field.

"USGS needs people to do the work, and graduate students need the mentorship, funds, and field projects to gain experience," says Storlazzi. "They give us opportunities, instruments, boats, survey equipment, etc. It's a great symbiotic relationship."

USGS scientists also work with students of Casey Moore, professor of Earth sciences, and Don Potts, professor of biology. The USGS office at UCSC includes three Ph.D.s, one researcher, and five contract employees. UCSC students and faculty also have access to scientists, facilities, and equipment at the main USGS office in Menlo Park.

When government and academic institutions pool resources, the combination of expertise and shared lab and field equipment makes new areas of research possible. And, graduate students have open access to the USGS scientists, who sit on committees, act as advisors, share data, and provide internships. Students learn what goes on in a federal agency that combines academic and applied research.

"One direction I see us headed is the geology of fishery habitats. With the interest and pressures on fishing grounds, we need better maps," says Field. "Gary and I have spent years working on these types of collaborations, and we have been building them one brick at a time," he continues. "We have a pretty good foundation now."

Related Web Sites
Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS), UC Santa Cruz

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