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DOE Names Michigan Tech Regional Center for Climate Change Research
For more information on this story contact:
Email:Marcia Goodrich

AUGUST 1, 2005--Michigan Tech has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy to help spearhead a multi-million-dollar, national research program on global climate change and its effects on ecosystems and the atmosphere.

Over the next five years, the DOE’s Office of Science plans to allocate over $38 million to be distributed by four Regional Centers of the National Institute for Climatic Change Research (NICCR). In addition to the Midwest Regional Center at Michigan Tech, centers will be located at Pennsylvania State University, Duke University and Northern Arizona University.

Kurt Pregitzer, a professor of forest resources and environmental science, will head the Michigan Tech center. Pregitzer, director of MTU’s Center for Ecosystem Science, has led numerous research studies on the effects of climate change on forest ecosystems.

“The center will competitively fund the best research that investigators from around the region propose,” Pregitzer said. "We are all very excited about the role that the Department of Energy is playing in advancing our understanding of climate change and its impacts on ecosystems."

The Michigan Tech center will select and coordinate NICCR-sponsored research studies in a 13-state area.

DOE program officer Jeff Amthor said that Michigan Tech was chosen primarily because of Pregitzer’s ideas on how the NICCR could add to America’s knowledge of global climate change.

"It was the compelling vision for how Tech can add value to the DOE Climate Change Research Program that pushed Tech over the top in the competition for the Midwestern Regional Center," Amthor said.

In his proposal, Pregitzer stressed the importance of long-term projects involving all four regional centers, as well as sharing existing data to gain new insights.

“I fully expect that we will be doing some collaborative work among the centers,” Amthor said. “We’ll cover the individual scientist looking at one topic on up to projects that are national in scope.”

The DOE does not have preconceptions about what specific research the NICCR should fund. Instead, it anticipates that the scientists at the four centers will collaboratively decide what issues are most important.

“The slate is now blank on what we want to accomplish,” Amthor said. “But we will dedicate some of our resources to the bigger, tougher, open-ended questions in climate change, so that when we look back in five years, we can say ‘We’re glad we did that.’”

Principal investigators at the other three centers are Kenneth Davis, at the Northeastern Regional Center at Penn State; Robert Jackson, Southeastern Regional Center, Duke; and Bruce Hungate, Western Regional Center, Northern Arizona University.

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