From the Dean…

Aboard GSO, Fall 2023

Head and shoulder pic of Bontempi

Day-to-day life here on the URI Narragansett Bay Campus is a constant reminder of our founding Dean John A. Knauss’ belief that oceanographers can do anything.

I couldn’t agree more—we are a unique group. Oceanographers are interdisciplinary, big-picture thinkers who code, start businesses, spend countless hours in labs, roam the halls of government, work with schoolchildren and occasionally leave friends and family for days, weeks, even months at a time to gather crucial data from some of the most remote places on Earth.

There’s no one way to be an oceanographer, but we all share the same passion for understanding and protecting our blue planet.

I’m so excited to see our campus renewal plans coming to fruition, modernizing the tools we need to prepare our future ocean leaders and workforce. 2024 will see the groundbreaking for the Ocean Robotics Laboratory. This new facility will be a regional hub for the rapid design and development of complex exploration and research tools and technologies, like autonomous systems requiring no human intervention. Scientists, engineers and students will collaborate under one roof, catalyzing new technological advances and creating opportunities for public-private ventures.

Equipment and robotics pioneered in the Ocean Robotics Laboratory will work hand-in-glove with the new regional class research vessel, Narragansett Dawn, which is nearing completion in Houma, La. We look forward to the launch of the vessel late next spring, and while much work will remain even after she’s floating in the canals of southern Louisiana, plans are being made to welcome R/V Narragansett Dawn to her new home in Rhode Island in 2025.

It’s not just new facilities that are coming to the Bay Campus, it’s also exciting new partnerships. GSO recently engaged with Propeller Ventures, an early stage VC fund that invests in ocean-climate solutions that stem from research and development in the marine sciences. The school is also expanding its online education opportunities to meet the needs of a new generation of ocean leaders. January 2024 will see the launch of an Ocean Science Graduate Certificate and Blue MPA degree program.

As you’ll see in this issue of Aboard GSO, this community is addressing some of the most pressing issues of our day. From the future of large-scale offshore wind energy and its economic and ecological impacts, to piloting ­carbon removal strategies, to incorporating environmental justice into research and connecting our students to the inner workings of government policy through experiential and entrepreneurial learning, the school’s faculty, students, staff and alumni are using their incredible skills and creativity to make a difference today.

Thank you for your continued support of GSO. I trust you’ll enjoy the stories in the following pages and hope to see you all in 2024!

Best wishes,
—Dean Paula Bontempi, Ph.D. ’01