CORVALLIS, Ore. – A national search has begun for the first director of the new Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, established in 2007 by the Oregon Legislature to help the state better plan for and respond to issues relating to climate change.
The new entity, an Oregon University System institute, will be administered by Oregon State University – where it will be physically located – and its institutional partners within OUS.
Among the missions of the new Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, or OCCRI, are to:
Facilitate research by Oregon University System faculty on climate change and its effects on natural and human systems in Oregon;
Serve as a clearinghouse for Oregon decision-makers on climate change information;
Provide climate change information to the public in integrated and accessible formats;
Support the new Oregon Global Warming Commission in developing strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change;
Provide technical assistance to local governments to assist them in developing climate change policies, practices and programs.
Mark Abbott, dean of the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at OSU, said the new director will provide leadership for coordinating the vast faculty climate change expertise within the Oregon University System as well as identifying the state’s research and information needs.
“Climate change is much more than just a scientific challenge,” said Abbott, who co-chaired the Climate Change Integration Group for Gov. Ted Kulongoski and has been named vice-chair of the state’s new Oregon Global Warming Commission. “The issues associated with it have significant policy implications, as well as impacts on social well-being and economic development. The director of this new institute will play a key role in helping prepare Oregon for climate change as well as identifying economic opportunities.”
A search committee has begun the process of identifying candidates for the position, which it hopes to fill by early summer. Peter Clark, a professor of geosciences at OSU, is chairing the committee, which includes representatives from five different Oregon University System institutions and Oregon Health & Science University.
The new director will have an academic appointment within the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at OSU, and bring to the job a track record of professional achievement in a climate-related field, and demonstrated leadership and success in working with a variety of state and federal agencies, industry and others. A Ph.D. in a climate-related field is required.
Faculty in a variety of fields from throughout the Oregon University System will collaborate with the new institute and develop new research partnerships to help the state and the private sector meet the challenges and opportunities of climate change. The Oregon Climate Service, which is based at OSU, will provide the data collection and distribution services of the new institute. The manager of the OCS, George Taylor, will report to the director of the institute.
“George Taylor’s work in collecting and distributing weather data that helps Oregon farmers, ranchers, fishermen and others is absolutely first-rate and will continue,” Abbott said.
The new institute director and Taylor will share the duties usually assumed by a state climatologist, Abbott said, although neither will formally hold that title. The institute director will lead the research function of a state climatologist and represent Oregon at relevant conferences; Taylor will provide the supporting mapping and data services.
Abbott said the new director will join the institute in the summer of 2008.