July, 2008

Dear Colleagues,

I write to you on behalf of the U.S. Advisory Committee on Scientific Ocean Drilling (USAC) to help spread the word about ongoing activities and transformations within IODP, specifically on leadership changes at IODP-TAMU, the SODV conversion, and industry contracts for the JOIDES Resolution.

Changes at Texas A&M University – IODP: Jeff Fox and Jack Baldauf have stepped down from their positions as Director of Science Services and Deputy Director of Science Services of IODP-TAMU, respectively. Plans for the future leadership of IODP-TAMU during this transition have been outlined by Bjorn Kjerfve, Dean of Geosciences at TAMU.

Jeff Fox and Jack Baldauf have been invaluable and dedicated leaders of ODP and IODP and deserve our deepest gratitude for their service to the U.S. and international drilling community. Under their guidance, the USIO has delivered first-rate science services that have resulted in profound discoveries in the geosciences. They have been responsible for bringing a high level of professionalism and talent to ODP and IODP and have provided an exceptional model for how to conduct and support successful international scientific collaboration. We would like to express our sincerest thanks and appreciation for their tireless work and countless contributions to ODP and IODP over the years and wish them the best of luck in their new positions.

In his remarks Dean Kjerfve announced that Steve Bohlen will assume the position of Interim Director for Science Services effective August 4. USAC fully supports these plans and feels confident that under the new leadership the USIO will meet the goals of IODP.

SODV Conversion: The SODV conversion is nearing completion, and re-delivery from the shipyard is expected in mid-September, after vessel tests and trials, in time for the start of Expedition 317 Canterbury Basin. Last week, I attended the ‘test-drive’ of many of the shipboard science systems at TAMU. TAMU has been working tirelessly on these systems, and it was the first time that a group of community scientists were introduced to them and trained to use them. This exercise exceeded all expectations. A more detailed report will soon be available to the public, please stay tuned for another message this week from Ocean Leadership. Updates on the SODV conversion are posted regularly.

Industry Contracts and Partnerships: During the past year, IODP-MI and the USIO have been working hard to address the shortage of NSF funding that will result in IODP using the ship for only 7-8 months per year. Potential solutions include leasing the ship to individual companies or creating a consortium of companies that would collaborate with academic scientists and institutions on research themes of common interest. An organizational meeting of the new Ocean Drilling Consortium (ODC) was held in Houston last week to explore and define scientific questions of interest to both industry and academia.

USAC is fully supportive of the ongoing efforts to secure industry contracts and to form industry-academic consortia. For additional information on this topic, visit the ODC website. We especially encourage you to read the FAQ page and to contact any steering committee member with questions.

We are ready to rise to the challenge not only to adjust to this new mode of operation, but also to maximize the scientific outcomes of the drilling time that we do have. USAC encourages you to use your diverse range of talents to advocate for, participate in, and support IODP however you can. To help you, we have developed materials and organized resources that we hope you will find useful if you need suggestions about how you can help.  And, as usual, we welcome feedback and questions at any time.

Best Regards,

Christina Ravelo
Chair, USAC
on behalf of USAC