Florida Institute of Oceanography
William "Bill" HogarthInterim Director
|Location||St. Petersburg, Florida, USA|
|Campus||USF St. Petersburg|
|Affiliations||The State University System of Florida|
The Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO), located on the campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, is an independent entity of the State University System of Florida that works collaboratively with 20 institutions and agencies from across the state that support marine research.
FIO operates two research vessels, R/V Bellows and R/V Weatherbird II, newly acquired state of the art research vessel, and it co-manages the Keys Marine Laboratory on Long Key with the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
For more than four decades, the Florida Institute of Oceanography has unified marine science interests across Florida in the cause of understanding and stewardship of the coastal oceans. Now entering its 45th year, FIO is taking a leading national role in the scientific assessment of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The institute is governed by the FIO Council. Council members serve two-year terms and are active members of the Florida oceanographic science and education community. In addition to advising the FIO leadership regarding statewide collaboration in oceanographic science and education, the council’s key duty is to plan and align legislative budget requests with strategic priorities.
FIO has emerged as a key research organization on the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill with the award of $10 million from oil company BP. In an application process which began in June 2010, the FIO received more than 200 proposals from researchers totaling more than $60 million. To apply for funding, scientists were asked to develop research proposals related to the following scientific priorities in spill research:
Determine the properties, distribution, and extent of the oil spill and dispersants. Conduct baseline studies and impact assessments to provide the basis for long-term monitoring. Contribute to an integrated coastal and ocean observing system, and improve modeling capabilities for forecasting environmental impacts related to the oil spill. Develop and implement systems for data integration, synthesis, sharing, and dissemination. Develop and implement strategies to protect and restore habitats and species. Priority will be given to projects that are collaborative between two or more FIO members and/or the Northern Gulf Institute and Louisiana State University, which also received BP funding for initial research.
For generations of Florida marine science students, the first taste of life as a research scientist on the seas probably began with the help of the Florida Institute of Oceanography. Each year, FIO vessels host scores of undergraduate and graduate students from member institutions on board the R/V Weatherbird II and R/V Bellows as floating classrooms. Marine science faculty at Florida state universities can apply for free ship time which allows them to take students into the environment they study.
The Keys Marine Laboratory also has played a major role in Florida’s marine science education program. Equipped with classrooms, living quarters and access to vessels, students go there to learn sampling techniques and how to collect data in the field. In a unique program, students are able to enter data on the specimens they collect into the KML database and compare it to specimens gathered by other groups. Their work has become part of a long-term dataset that monitor the health of the near-shore habitats in the Florida Keys and Florida Bay.
Through its history, the FIO also has supported educational programs which introduce middle school and high school students to the ocean sciences, such as USF’s College of Marine Science Oceanography Camp for Girls.