No subject

Kevin Hutton khutton at
Fri Dec 31 14:02:10 EST 1999

>Update From:=A0 The Committee for the National Institute for the
>Re:=A0 National Science Foundation Announces $50 million "Special
>Competition" for grants on Biocomplexity in the Environment
> December 16, 1999
> The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced a special
>competition to award $50 million in grants under the
>Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE) initiative launched by
>NSF Director Rita Colwell. During 1999, CNIE, with much
>assistance from supporters of the NIE, has educated Congress
>about the importance of the BE initiative. Congress=A0 funded the
>initiative by this fall at the level requested by the Foundation.
>"Biocomplexity in the Environment" is now the descriptor of the
>full portfolio of environmental science and engineering at NSF.
>The grants to be allocated in fiscal year 2000 represents the
>beginnings of the additional $1 billion/year that the National
>Science Foundation hopes to receive as a result of the recently
>adopted report Environmental Science and Engineering in the
>21st Century: the role of the National Science Foundation. The
>report stems from a congressional request that NSF to study the
>creation of a National Institute for the Environment (NIE)
>through the Foundation. The report recommends implementing
>nearly all the activities proposed for an NIE directly through
>the National Science Foundation. CNIE has endorsed the report,
>committed to working for its full implementation, and suspended
>its call for creation of an NIE.
> In recent weeks, CNIE has met with Congressional staff to
>further educate them about the BE initiative, its relationship
>with the NSF report recommendations, and the need to provide a
>major funding increase next year to implement all the
>recommendations contained in the report. In November, CNIE
>organized a letter to the White House Office of Management and
>Budget in support of increased funding for NSF. This letter was
>signed by over 175 scientific societies, environmental
>organizations, business groups and colleges and universities;
>including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Sierra Club.
> The introduction to the NSF program announcement=A0 describes
>the initiative in the following ways:
>"Biocomplexity refers to phenomena that result from dynamic
>interactions among the biological, physical and social
>components of the Earth's diverse environmental systems. We
>commonly experience these phenomena as the "whole being greater
>than the sum of the parts." Biocomplexity arises from the
>interplay between life and its environment, i.e., from the
>behavioral, biological, social, chemical and physical
>interactions that affect, sustain, or are modified by living
organisms, including humans.
> All systems associated with life, including human systems,
>exhibit biocomplexity. Population oscillations, host-parasite
>interactions, pathogen response to El Nino events, human
>responses to environmental stimuli, and bioreactor instability
>are but a few examples of complex behaviors exhibited by
>environmental systems defined or influenced by living organisms.
> Since nonlinear or chaotic behavior, emergent phenomena, and
>interactions involving multiple levels of biological
>organization and/or multiple spatial (microns to thousands of
>kilometers) and temporal (nanoseconds to eons) scales often
>identify Biocomplexity, it is difficult to describe and study
>experimentally. This greatly restricts our ability to predict
>the behavior of most systems with living organisms, including
>those formed via human activity.
> Breaking such systems into their component parts and studying
>them separately cannot lead to complete understanding. At some
>point, the system as a whole must be studied to identify
>emergent behaviors. In addition to a holistic approach, a
>clear, integrated conceptual framework for analysis is
>required. Such research is integrated formally and a priori,
>rather than by relying on ad hoc analysis of results collected
>at different times and places. At the same time the paradigms
>used to probe the complete system must be designed on the basis
>of the known properties of the components of the system.
> Major questions about biocomplexity remain unanswered. How
>does complexity among biological, physical and social systems
>within the environment arise and change? How do emergent
>properties develop? How do systems with living components,
>including those that are human based, respond and adapt to
>stress? How does information and material move within and
>across levels in systems? Are adaptation and change
>predictable? How do humans influence and respond to biocomplexity in
natural systems?
> Decades of fruitful research, following the reductionist
>paradigm, generated a vast wealth of knowledge about the living
>and non-living subcomponents of many environmental systems. Now
>researchers from a broad spectrum of fields, armed with
>burgeoning databases and a new array of computational,
>observational, and analytical tools can undertake the
>integrative research necessary to tackle biocomplexity. The
>study of biocomplexity offers many challenges to modeling
>methods, including mathematical and computational ones.
>Descriptions of aggregate behavior, nonlinear phenomena,
>networks with distributed or local control, or combinations of
>continuous and discrete behavior as well as new visualization
>methods can be applied to address biocomplexity. Genome
>sequencing, DNA-chips, robotics, computer simulations, new
>sensors and monitoring systems, along with satellite-based
>imaging of the land and seas, all contribute to the flood of
>data relevant to the understanding of biocomplexity. Knowledge
>discovery techniques (e.g., datamining, visualization,
>summarization, trend extraction, etc.) are being developed to
>convert the volumes of data into new knowledge.
> The challenge of understanding biocomplexity in the
>environment requires sophisticated and creative approaches that
>integrate information across temporal and spatial scales,
>consider multiple levels of organization, and cross-conceptual
>boundaries. Advancing our understanding of the nature and role
>of biocomplexity demands increased attention and new
>collaborations of researchers from a broad spectrum of fields
>-- biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, geology, hydrology,
>mathematics, statistics, social and behavioral sciences, computer
sciences and engineering."
> See the full text at=A0
> The competition will support work in two areas:
>=A5 Integrated Research "to better understand and model
>complexity that arises from the interaction of biological,
>physical, and social systems. . . specifically . . . research
>projects which directly explore nonlinearities, chaotic
>behavior, emergent phenomena or feedbacks within and between
>systems and/or integrate across multiple components or scales
>of time and space in order to better understand and predict the
>dynamic behavior of systems. " "Research Projects can be up to
>5 years in duration. Annual budgets may be up to $600,000, with
>budgets up to $1 million each year possible if extremely well
>=A5 Incubation Activities "that enable groups of researchers who
>have not historically collaborated on biocomplexity research to
>develop projects via focused workshops, virtual meetings, and
>other types of development and planning Activities."
>"Incubation Activities can be up to two years duration with
>total budgets not to exceed $100,000 and cannot be renewed."
>The deadline for letters of intent is January 31, 2000 and for
>proposals March 1, 2000. The anticipated date of awards: September
> CNIE, as a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional,
>cross-sectoral coalition, would be pleased to provide pro-bono
>assistance anybody seeking to establish new collaborations to
>carry out work which will improve the scientific basis for
>environmental decisions. Contact David Blockstein
>David at or 202-530-5810 x 205 or use the Environmental
>Research Information Exchange bulletin board at <>.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
sponsors coral-list and the Coral Health and Monitoring Program
(CHAMP,  Please visit the Web site
for instructions on subscribing and unsubscribing to coral-list.

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list