FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Research Professor Shirley Pomponi, Ph.D., a leading ocean scientist, contributed her expertise as co-chair for the 13-person “Committee on Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century” of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM). Pomponi, in conjunction with her colleagues, produced a new report from the NASEM concluding that the sustainability of biological collections is under threat. Without enhanced strategic leadership and investments in their infrastructure and growth, many biological collections could be lost. A webinar will be hosted on Thursday, September 17 at 11 a.m. to discuss the committee’s findings.
Pomponi’s research focuses on marine biotechnology and sponge systematics, cell and molecular biology. Her insights were invaluable to the committee, as she was instrumental in building an extensive and premier collection of marine organisms to support FAU's Harbor Branch Marine Biomedical & Biotechnology Research Program. Many of these specimens were collected using the historic Johnson-Sea-Link I and II submersibles, which featured unique capabilities for collecting fragile specimens from the ocean floor and 2 sites not accessible with trawls or dredges, such as deep fore reefs, vertical walls and boulder zones. Specimens were also collected by scuba, snorkeling and wading. The majority of samples come primarily from around the Atlantic and Caribbean; others have come from the Galapagos, western Pacific, Mediterranean, Indo-Pacific, Western Africa and the Bering Sea.
Biological collections are a critical part of the nation’s science and innovation infrastructure and a fundamental resource for understanding the natural world. Biological collections underpin basic science discoveries as well as deepen our understanding of many challenges such as global change, biodiversity loss, sustainable food production, ecosystem conservation, and improving human health and security. They are important resources for education, both in formal training for the science and technology workforce, and in informal learning through schools, citizen science programs, and adult learning.
The Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century report, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, recommends approaches for biological collections to:
The aim of the report is to stimulate a national discussion regarding the goals and strategies needed to ensure that U.S. biological collections not only thrive but continue to grow throughout the 21st century and beyond.
MEDIA CONTACT: Megan Lowry, Media Officer NAS Office of News and Public Information 202-334-2138; email@example.com
Public Briefing and Discussion
Sept 17, 2020 11 AM (ET)