NSF LogoNSF Award Abstract - #0114400 AWSFL008-DS3

IGERT: Signals in the Sea

Latest Amendment Date July 24, 2002
Award Number 0114400
Award Instrument Continuing grant
Program Manager Paul W. Jennings
Start Date September 1, 2001
Expires August 31, 2006 (Estimated)
Expected Total Amount $2700000 (Estimated)
Investigator Mark E. Hay (Principal Investigator current)
Peter G. Verity (Co-Principal Investigator current)
Julia Kubanek (Co-Principal Investigator current)
Donald R. Webster (Co-Principal Investigator current)
Patricia A. Sobecky (Co-Principal Investigator current)
Sponsor GA Tech Res Corp - GIT
Office of Sponsored Programs
Atlanta, GA 303320420 404/385-0866
Field Application 0000099 Other Applications NEC
Program Reference Code 1335,9178,9179,SMET,


The importance of chemical and hydromechanical signaling is broadly recognized but inadequately studied. In marine and freshwater systems, chemical signals affect critical processes such as feeding, competition, mate recognition, habitat choice, host-symbiont and host-pathogen interactions. These chemical signals not only directly affect organisms but also produce a cascade of indirect effects on population structure, community organization, and ecosystem function. Numerous investigations indicate that chemical signals mediate many of these ecological interactions in aquatic systems, but exceedingly few investigations have coupled aquatic chemical ecology with microbiology, sensory biology, physiology, or an understanding of the fluid dynamics that mediate the transmission and reception of signals. Few scientists have the requisite breadth and cross-disciplinary training in ecology, chemistry, sensory biology, microbiology, physiology and small-scale hydrodynamics necessary to advance the field of chemical signaling in aquatic systems. The recent NSF workshop on challenges and opportunities in biological oceanography (OEUVRE) identified a mechanistic understanding of these small-scale chemically and physically mediated processes as a major challenge facing this diverse field. Georgia Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Skidaway and Scripps Institutions of Oceanography, is uniquely positioned to train students to meet these challenges. Under this IGERT program, graduate training at Georgia Tech will consist of a unique series of integrated core courses, an intensive, hands-on class in aquatic signaling where interdisciplinary student teams will experimentally investigate projects of their own design, intemships, and mentoring by a multidisciplinary graduate committee. Seminars will be conducted on biological, chemical and physical interactions affecting aquatic signaling, scientific ethics, special issues faced by under-represented groups and women in science, and the practical aspects of professional development in science and engineering. During the project, IGERT funds will support over 40 graduate students, produce about 26 PhDs, and start a permanent center for aquatic signaling at Georgia Tech.

IGERT is an NSF-wide program intended to meet the challenges of educating Ph.D. scientists and engineers with the multidisciplinary backgrounds and the technical, professional, and personal skills needed for the career demands of the future. The program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education by establishing new, innovative models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. In the fourth year of the program, awards are being made to twenty-two institutions for programs that collectively span all areas of science and engineering supported by NSF. The intellectual foci of this specific award reside in the Directorates for Biological Sciences; Geosciences; Mathematical and Physical Sciences; Engineering; Education and Human Resources; and the Office of Polar Programs.

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