09.01.16

RI Delegation Announces $2,995,000 for URI Research Expedition to Arctic’s Northwest Passage

The project will engage high school, undergraduate, and graduate students in hands-on research aboard the tall ship SSV Oliver Hazard Perry

Washington, D.C. – Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced that the University of Rhode Island (URI), in collaboration with its Inner Space Center, the Graduate School of Oceanography, the film company David Clark Inc., and several other partners, has been awarded funding to support an expedition into the Arctic’s Northwest Passage as part of the Northwest Passage Project from the National Science Foundation.

URI and its partners received $2,994,742 to support the expedition costs, including supporting a documentary film crew that will highlight the expedition’s research on the rapidly changing Arctic environment.

The Northwest Passage Project combines field-based scientific research with education outreach to increase public awareness through live streaming and the production of a full-length documentary.  The students and crew aboard the tall ship SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, named for the Rhode Island-born American naval commander, will give outside audiences a live look into their research and experiences onboard the ship.  Daily broadcasts from the ship will be shared live to partner institutions, including the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and on the expedition’s interactive website.  In addition, the project is designed to provide the high school, undergraduate, and graduate student participants with the skills necessary to succeed in science.

“These funds will allow students to gain invaluable, hands-on experience engaging in a critical study of the rapidly changing conditions in the Northwest Passage,” said Senator Reed. “The expedition will raise awareness of the growing environmental, health, and national security threats ‎posed by climate change, particularly in the Arctic region.”

“The effects of climate change are unfolding rapidly in the Arctic,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “These federal funds will help URI and its partner institutions research, document, and raise awareness about the drastic changes going on in the Northwest Passage.  It is fitting that this intrepid work will be happening aboard a tall ship bearing the name of Rhode Island’s famed commodore, Oliver Hazard Perry.”   

“This exciting, intergenerational initiative is the kind of hands-on, experiential learning opportunity that has the power to engage students, ignite their passion for science, and potentially set them on a path toward a rewarding career in the STEM fields. The Northwest Passage Project can help foster the next generation of environmental stewards, and I am thrilled to see the University of Rhode Island lead the way,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.

“Our state is uniquely positioned to feel the effects of climate change and the rising oceans,” said Congressman Cicilline. “I am thrilled that the University of Rhode Island is receiving funding to produce this innovative STEM learning experience to better teach our students and our nation about the crisis in the Arctic and around the world. This project will produce critical knowledge and share it through traditional as well as digital media. I am proud that Rhode Island schools and institutions are leading the way with this exciting initiative.”

“This project is based on the Graduate School of Oceanography's long standing commitment to educational outreach and is made possible by our collaboration with the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry and David Clark Inc. The Arctic cruise will highlight dramatic environmental changes in the Arctic Ocean resulting from global climatic changes that will affect the entire planet,” said Dr. Bruce Corliss, Dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography.

The Northwest Passage Project is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning program.

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