Campus: CSU Northridge -- April 10, 2003

CSUN Professor Receives $500,000 from NSF to Study Hawaii's Marine Ecosystem

Cal State Northridge biology professor Robert Carpenter has received a $500,288 grant from the National Science Foundation to study marine ecosystems in Hawaii over the next four years.

Carpenter's research will address several fundamental questions in marine ecology and biological oceanography using coral reefs, which are among the most productive marine ecosystems in the world.

Carpenter said he was surprised and pleased to learn about the grant. He submitted a similar research proposal to the foundation a couple of years ago and was turned down.

"I'm definitely happy we got funded this time," he said.

Carpenter said his research takes a unique look at coral reefs and their environment.

"Coral reefs are in the tropics and in areas where the water is always moving," he said. "Scientists normally do not take water motion into account when they are trying to explain how coral reefs work. We are going to take a look at how reef communities respond to water motion."

During summer and winter breaks over the next four years, about 10 undergraduate and graduate students will work alongside Carpenter in Hawaii, using sophisticated lab and field instrumentation and analyzing complex data sets.

Carpenter said that what makes the National Science Foundation grant particularly exciting is that it includes funding for the students, adding that it's a wonderful chance to cultivate future scientists.

"Built into the project is a opportunity for each of those students to do an independent research project, under the direction of myself or one of my colleagues," he said. "It's a great opportunity, particularly for the undergraduate students, to discover what it's like to do their own research, and we'll cover the costs for them to present their results at academic meetings.

"For many of our students, science is something they are exposed to in a physics or biology class, but they don't always know how its applied in the field and how it can lead into a career," Carpenter said. "This is a chance for them to apply that knowledge in the field and learn that science is pretty enjoyable."

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130,

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