OSU names Abbott dean of Oceanography


CORVALLIS - Mark Abbott, an Oregon State University oceanographer who helped OSU create one of the world's most sophisticated supercomputer networks for marine science, has been named dean of the university's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences (COAS). He succeeds Brent Dalrymple, who retired in February.

An OSU faculty member since 1988, Abbott is an internationally recognized biological oceanographer who chairs committees for NASA and the National Academy of Sciences. He specializes in the use of satellites and remote sensing techniques for studying physical and biological processes in the world's oceans.

OSU received a 10-year, $10 million grant from NASA to develop a computer network to help process and analyze oceanographic data gathered from satellites. Abbott was principal investigator for that project, which helped transform the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences into an international center for computerized oceanographic data.

"Technology has greatly changed the study of oceanography, and Mark Abbott has been at the forefront of that revolution," said Tim White, OSU provost and executive vice president. "He has helped Oregon State gain international recognition as a faculty member, and we are confident that he will do more of the same as dean."

"Mark was selected from an outstanding pool of finalists for this position, which is a reflection of Mark's abilities as well as the esteem in which COAS is held in the world community," White added. "He brings a superb set of leadership skills, energy, and a clarity of vision about the future of the college."

Abbott, 48, came to OSU in 1988 after spending six years as a member of the technical staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Jolla, Calif. During that time, he was an adjunct faculty member at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

He also spent two years in British Columbia as a postdoctoral fellow working in ocean ecology at the Institute of Ocean Sciences. His fellowship was sponsored by NATO and the National Science Foundation.

Abbott is a 1974 graduate of the University of California-Berkeley, where he received a bachelor's degree in conservation of natural resources. He has a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California-Davis.

As dean of OSU's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Abbott will oversee a program that has been ranked fifth in the U.S. by the National Research Council. The college presently has 67 faculty, 90 graduate students, and receives about $25 million in annual research funding. A number of undergraduate students pursue minors in the college.

"The college will continue its long tradition of excellence, and continue to pursue advanced technology in both computation and measurement systems as we seek to understand our changing planet," Abbott said. "COAS has been at the forefront of interdisciplinary research, studying the coupling of the ocean, atmosphere and solid earth systems - and how physics, biology, chemistry and geology are interrelated.

"We plan to remain in the forefront, and to expand our efforts to communicate our science to the general public," Abbott added.

Tim Cowles will continue as interim dean until Abbott assumes his new duties on July 1.