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Bow Watch: A Search for Research

Minnesota Sea Grant is known as an organization that delivers scientific and technical information on coastal and aquatic issues to Minnesotans and others in the Midwest. Nearly two-thirds of my staff is involved in this process, which includes identifying important research to convey, verifying its validity, distilling its essential points, and communicating those points clearly and accurately.

But gathering the latest research and then presenting it in a way that is meaningful and accessible to a lay audience is only part of our story. Minnesota Sea Grant and the other 30 academically based Sea Grant programs in the nation also fund research.

Sea Grant was founded on a principle of identifying real-world problems and bringing academic resources and intellectual talents together to address the problems. With the exception of the current funding cycle, every two years we request proposals for scientific research focused on coastal and aquatic challenges in Minnesota.

Regarding this research, Sea Grant has several tasks. Before we issue a request for proposals, we identify problems confronting coastal communities, aquatic ecosystems, and user groups that have water-related research needs where our investigative efforts could help. This is done through the sincere and consistent interaction of our outreach staff with individuals, agencies, businesses, and academicians. Dozens of problems are identified each year but our resources are limited. We have to be selective in the research we fund.

Selecting roughly a half-dozen projects from a pool of about 30 is challenging. To ensure the research will be technically sound and likely to yield useful and relevant results, we send the proposals to scientists in other states for review. Because the scientific community usually maintains a good perspective about what can be done and what resources will be necessary to solve a problem, peer review is heavily weighted during our final funding decisions.

Our advisory committee, a dozen or more individuals who represent facets of our society such as education, industry, and government, also review the proposals. Their considered opinions help us prioritize the proposed research. Lastly, the staff and I, using guidance from a national and regional perspective, finalize the list of projects we can fund.

This process of identifying the research projects Minnesota Sea Grant supports is many-tiered and inclusive. It relies on ideas for research from technical, professional, agency, and other groups composed of individuals with expert but wide-ranging perspectives.

Minnesota Sea Grant is a purveyor of information that the public can use to help solve some its most pressing problems involving waters and shorelines. Our quest is to identify the best research to fund the results of which will lead to a more sustainable environmental future for Minnesota. The translation of those research results to you is of utmost importance.

If you have comments on issues that you think Sea Grant should investigate, please contact me or another Sea Grant staff member. We are glad to get your input and will carefully consider your suggestions.

Return to September 2008 Seiche



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