The escalating international concern about climate change puts the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography square in the middle of the discussion. Bruce Corliss was named dean of the school after an international search and was heralded as having just the right combination of an outstanding record in research and education in oceanography, as well as highly regarded management experience in academia. Corliss began as GSO’s dean in September 2012 and discusses what he’s discovered so far and his vision for the future.
PBN: What are you most excited about, coming back to lead URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography after finishing your Ph.D. at the school in 1978?
CORLISS: GSO has high visibility now nationally and internationally as an oceanographic institution. I would like to reach out and have it gain a higher visibility in the state. I just don’t think it’s as well-known as I expected, given the prominence of GSO in oceanography. So we’re doing things like reaching out to the marine-trades industry. We’re also planning a workshop that we’re hosting in January on “green vessels.” The idea is to consider how to make vessels more environmentally sustainable. I’ve done one of these as a part of a national organization called UNOLS – the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System – that deals with academic research vessels. We had a workshop in which we invited the private sector and federal agencies – the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, NOAA – and operators of research vessels to talk about how we can make these vessels more environmentally sustainable. After the workshop, we found some of the private companies were partnering with some of the academic institutions, putting together proposals and considering work together. It was very encouraging.