Oregon Health & Science University’s Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction (CMOP) has received a $17 million renewal grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Technology Center to continue its research of coastal margins for the next five years. Coastal margins are biologically rich but highly vulnerable environments where rivers meet the ocean.
“A major goal of CMOP is to better integrate science in society’s quest for the sustainable management of coastal margins,” says Antonio Baptista, Ph.D., director of CMOP. The center’s geographic research focus is the Columbia River, from the Bonneville Dam to the coasts of Oregon and Washington. CMOP routinely works with federal and state agencies, Native American tribal organizations, industry and academia, to constructively inform management, policy and environmental health decisions.
With its core funding from NSF, CMOP is working to identify early warning signs, or “sentinels,” in the Columbia River coastal margin that can forewarn impending environmental changes earlier than currently possible, and allow strategic mitigation of their severity on both ecosystem and human health.
“CMOP is an innovative environmental program that builds on our idea that preventive medicine starts with the environment. If you don’t have a healthy environment, you are not going to have healthy people, “ said OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A. “OHSU would like to commend Oregon’s federal delegation for supporting this important project.”
Upon hearing news of the continuation grant, Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Rep. David Wu, all strong advocates for the project, applauded NSF’s continued support of the work that CMOP and its partner organizations are doing.
“This renewal helps keep 100 Oregonians on the job and will continue providing valuable research on our coastal environment,” said U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley. “I’m pleased that this important science and technology anchor will continue to call Oregon its home.”
"The renewal of CMOP not only protects jobs but also helps maintain Oregon as a center for innovation and scientific research of our coastal environment," added U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. "The renewed funding will ensure that valuable partnerships between universities, federal agencies, local governments and tribal organizations on issues affecting coastal communities will continue."
“CMOP is conducting exciting, innovative research that enriches coastal communities and provides good jobs for Oregonians,” said U.S. Congressman David Wu. “This decision will ensure the continuation of meaningful partnerships between valuable stakeholders — from fishermen to college students, and tribes to teachers.”
The health and sustainability of coastal margins are a global problem. CMOP’s successful outcomes in the Columbia River estuary can be exported to coastal margins around the world.
“CMOP clearly serves as a regional and national leader in showing the way forward for scientific research to serve as the underlying basis for decision making about vital national maritime concerns,” says Zdenka Willis, director of the Integrated Ocean Observing System, a federal, regional, and private-sector partnership working to enhance our ability to collect, deliver, and use ocean, coastal and Great Lakes information.
A unique aspect to CMOP is its engagement with Native Americans. The center is collaborating with Tribes and others in the Pacific Northwest to create a common science-based understanding of complex issues affecting the health and natural resources in the Columbia River and regional coastal margins.
“I recognize and greatly value the unique contributions of CMOP,” says Paul Lumley, executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, a CMOP partner. “CMOP is essential to the protection and restoration of the Columbia River estuary. They bring together multiple perspectives in order to address natural resource issues in the Columbia River and Pacific Northwest.”
CMOP also has established a successful educational program that engages students along a pathway toward scientific inquiry. Building on prior successes, CMOP’s growing educational programs encompass K-12, teacher professional development, and higher education initiatives designed to achieve a scientifically savvy work force.