"The interplay between life and its environment is complex," explained NSF Director Rita Colwell. "The connections are not necessarily straightforward or easily discerned. These ribbons of interconnections, often difficult to tease apart, are what NSF's biocomplexity in the environment awardees will study."
Research on biocomplexity in the environment, said Colwell, provides science with a more complete understanding of natural processes, of human behaviors and decisions in the natural world, and of ways to use technology effectively to observe the environment and to sustain the diversity of life on earth.
This systems approach is the crux of biocomplexity studies, believes Colwell. Scientists and engineers must work in teams across diverse fields that go well beyond biology to include physics, systems engineering, economics, geochemistry and others, on studies that extend from the submolecular to mass changes in climate with potential for worldwide impact. "Past investments in molecular biology, remote sensing, information science, and mathematics have yielded tremendous advances and powerful new technologies and tools that now make biocomplexity research possible," she said. 'The biggest, most exciting scientific questions are now at the interfaces of disciplines, such as biological chemistry, computational ecology, and environmental genetics."
NSF's Special Competition in Biocomplexity in the Environment: 2002, is the third phase of a multi-year effort. Five subcategories of awards were made: Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH), with 10 awards totaling $7.5 million; Coupled Biogeochemic
Contact: Cheryl Dybas
National Science Foundation