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OPP Office Advisory Committee

Draft Minutes
XL Meeting of the Advisory Committee for the Office of Polar Programs

30 May 2011 Arlington, Virginia

Webex and telephone (members)

Members present: 

Cecilia Bitz (Chair), University of Washington
Mary-Elena Carr, Columbia Climate Center, Columbia University
Christina Cheng, University of Illinois
David J. Close, Michigan State University
Linda Hayden, Elizabeth City State University
John Isbell, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Jeanne Kosch, Occupational Safety, Health, and Environment, Crofton, Maryland
Marigold Linton (CEOSE Representative), University of Kansas
Chris Martin, Oberlin College
Dennis McGillicudy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Eric Post, Pennsylvania State University
Jordan G. Powers, Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology, NCAR

OPP staff present: 
The majority of OPP staff attended all or part of the meeting.


The committee met virtually on 30 May 2011. Staff and members of the public joined at the National Science Foundation, room 1235, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22230. The committee provides guidance, recommendations, and oversight on how OPP can best serve science, promote education, ensure workforce diversity, and set priorities.  The meeting, chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, was open to the public.  Members represent a broad range of polar science and logistics domains, geographical locations, type of institution as well as other elements of diversity. The Advisory Committee welcomes communications from the research community regarding NSF’s polar programs.

Following introductions, Sue LaFratta-Decker, Senior Advisor, confirmed that all committee members were free of any conflicts of interest and could participate in all aspects of the meeting. Kelly Kenison Falkner, Acting Office Head, explained that the meeting was being held in compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

OPP Acting Director’s Report
Dr. Falkner welcomed new and returning members and thanked them for providing OPP and NSF with essential advice. She noted that the advisory committee serves as a very important conduit to the science, engineering and education community.

Staffing: Dr. Falkner identified a number of changes that have transpired in OPP since the last advisory committee meeting in November of 2011. 

  • Former OPP Director, Karl Erb, retired at the end of March 2012, after well over a decade of service to OPP.  Dr. Falkner agreed to step in as Acting Director of OPP upon his retirement.  The NSF Director is expecting to conduct a full search for the Director position in the future. 

  • The Office of the Director kindly agreed to loan Fae Korsmo to serve as the OPP Acting Deputy Director.  Dr. Falkner is the designated Federal Official for the OPP advisory committee, and Dr. Korsmo is executive coordinator. 
  • Brendan Kelly, Deputy Director of the Arctic Sciences Division, was detailed to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) beginning in February 2012.  He continues to be involved in Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) and many other polar science issues in his OSTP assignment. 
  • Other new personnel in OPP include Andy Lydon, serving as information technology specialist, and Diana Nemergut. Dr. Nemergut joined OPP in May from the University of Colorado to direct the Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Program. 
  • OPP thanks Sonya Esperança for agreeing to detail to OPP from the GEO Directorate to direct the Antarctic Integrated System Science (AISS) Program.

  • Paul Sheppard joined Antarctic Infrastructure and Logistics (AIL) Division last September as Systems Manager Operations & Logistics. He was deployed to Antarctica during the last committee meeting.

  • Erica Key completed her assignment as an Arctic System Science (ARCSS) Program program officer, and is now the program director for the Arctic Observing Network.

  • Active searches/recruitments are underway for positions in OPP, including the AIL Deputy Division Director, AISS program director, and rotators in Arctic Natural Sciences (ANS), ARCSS, and Cyberinfrastructure.

  • Karen Sloane is assisting Linda Izzard with the processing of Arctic Division proposals while Tianay Robinson is on detail elsewhere in the agency. 

  • Guy Guthridge, who has supported the advisory committee in the past, completed his most recent assignment with OPP in March, and OPP thanks Peter West and David Friscic for being the scribes for this meeting. 

Budget:  NSF is responding to guidance from the Office of Management and Budget to increase efficiency and strengthen accountability in the areas of travel, conferences, and other expenditures. The decision to hold this meeting by virtual means is an example of one such response.  OPP anticipates continuing the practice of holding one of the two semi-annual advisory committee meetings virtually.

Upcoming Events: The U.S. Antarctic Blue Ribbon Panel plans to release its report on July 23rd.

Icebreakers: OPP is developing a number of options to maintain operating capabilities in support of planned U.S. Antarctic Program activities.  During the 2011-2012 season, OPP successfully completed a multi-year effort to improve fuel supplies and energy conservation for the USAP. As a result, sufficient fuel is on hand at McMurdo Station to continue operations through February 2014 at a somewhat reduced operating level, should that be necessary.

OPP Division Director Reports

Scott Borg gave additional details on staffing in the Antarctic Sciences Division and turned to activities involved with science planning, re-competition of research infrastructure, and interagency memoranda of understanding.

Simon Stephenson announced that the Arctic Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (ArcSEES) solicitation was published in April 2012 and represents an international, interagency, and intra-agency collaboration.  He also encouraged committee members to take a look at the draft IARPC plan (available on the NSF OPP web site at: Other developments include the efforts of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) to engage a broad science community and the publication of draft goals for the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH). He also noted that the Arctic Sciences Division is working on a safety policy.

Brian Stone gave an update on AIL activities, including the site visits of the Blue Ribbon Panel, the successful resupply of McMurdo Station in February 2012, and the transition to a new contractor. He also mentioned several international collaborations, including the U.S.-Russia Antarctic Treaty inspection and a framework for cooperation with Korea. He related that the Division is updating existing policies and procedures.

Discussion ensued regarding international collaborations and the integration of research and education in Arctic and Antarctic activities.

OPP Vision Statement

Dr. Korsmo thanked the Advisory Committee’s subcommittee for developing and OPP staff for contributing to the draft vision statement. Cecilia Bitz, Advisory Committee Chair and leader of the subcommittee, presented the statement and described the subcommittee’s efforts thus far. Dr. Bitz led a lively discussion and elicited further suggestions from committee members. With minor revisions, the Committee approved the statement and encouraged OPP to publish it in an attractive layout with appropriate photographs.

Information Item: Open Access

Myron Gutmann, Assistant Director for NSF’s Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate, presented an information item on open access issues involved with both data and publications. He began with a review of NSF policy, a summary of the past decade’s developments (including PubMed Central at the National Institutes of Health), and OSTP’s 2012 report on access.  Dr. Gutmann raised several questions for consideration:

  1. What would an ambitious NSF statement of principles look like?

  2. Can data policy be separated from publication policy?

  3. How do we deal with the enormous diversity of outputs from NSF-funded research?

  4. What pilot or design projects need to precede full implementation?

  5. What would a roadmap or timeline look like?

If we get to open access, when do we get there? Committee members engaged in discussion of different models for data and publications. It was suggested that whatever practices adopted by the agency, principal investigators value the ability to disseminate their research.

Big Data and CIF21

Dr. Borg introduced the topic of “Big Data,” an area of emphasis for NSF and other agencies, which refers not only to the volume of data, but also to its variety and velocity.  Big data includes large, diverse, complex, longitudinal, and/or distributed data sets generated from instruments, sensors, and a variety of other digital sources. It also refers to access and connections to cyberinfrastructure facilities for data-intensive and data-enabled science.  Dr. Borg mentioned the EarthCube effort to create integrated data management infrastructures across the geosciences. EarthCube is sponsored by the Geosciences Directorate and the Office of Cyberinfrastructure. This is a potential topic for the next Advisory Committee meeting.

Interactions with Polar Research and Education Communities

Dr. Korsmo indicated that if Advisory Committee members wished to be present during OPP Town Hall meetings (at the American Geophysical Union December meeting, for example), they certainly could relay information about past meetings and interact with the community.  It was decided to pilot such an effort at the next AGU meeting.

Committee of Visitors (COV) Plans

Dr. Korsmo presented a tentative plan for the next round of OPP COVs. She explained the options for the portfolio analysis section of the COV template, and the Committee decided on a combination of standard and tailored questions. She will provide the COV templates, a suggested schedule, and other information to the Advisory Committee.


On behalf of OPP, Dr. Falkner thanked Marigold Linton, outgoing Advisory Committee member, for her years of service and her dedication to broadening participation. Dr. Linton offered parting words of advice: if everyone mentored a minority student, the diversity problem would be solved.  


Abbreviations Used Throughout This Meeting




American Geophysical Union


Antarctic Integrated System Science


Antarctic Infrastructure and Logistics


Arctic Natural Sciences


Arctic System Science


Arctic Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability


Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering


International Arctic Science Committee


Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee


Office Advisory Committee


Office of Polar Programs, NSF


Office of Science and Technology Policy


Study of Environmental Arctic Change

Last updated: 06/06/2012