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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 30, 2005

UI To Help Plan NSF National Environmental Observatory

Jerald Schnoor, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering, research engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering and co-director of the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, has been named one of three co-directors of a project office and recipient of a $500,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to plan a proposed $350 million NSF national environmental observatory.

In particular, Schnoor will assist the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in its $2 million, two-year NSF grant for a project office to organize the environmental community around a center called CLEANER, the Collaborative Large-scale Engineering Analysis Network for Environmental Research.

Said Schnoor: "The project office is designed to bring together the environmental engineering and hydrological sciences communities nationwide. The joint community will design a $350 million NSF environmental cyberinfrastructure and observatory (slated for construction in 2011) to sense, analyze, model, visualize and forecast environmental problems as diverse as Gulf Hypoxia, emerging contaminants, pathogens in the water supply, invasive species and excessive sediments and nutrients in our nation's waterways."

In addition to Schnoor, Chris Peterson Brus, director of the UI Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Program, has been selected to serve on the CLEANER Education Committee. She will attend the committee's organizational meeting Sept. 20-22 at NSCA in Arlington, Va., where the CLEANER planning effort will be headquartered. Also, Keri Hornbuckle, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been appointed a member of the Science Committee for CLEANER, and will contribute her expertise on analyzing emerging chemical contaminants in the environment.

The goal of CLEANER is to better understand complex and human-stressed environmental systems so that needed action can be taken, such as managing and protecting U.S. water supplies, restoring altered ecosystems, preserving endangered species and tracking harmful agents. The vision for CLEANER includes multiple distributed, networked sites where sensors and instruments will gather data, as well as cyberinfrastructure for sharing, storing, managing, analyzing, mining, visualizing and drawing fresh insights from the data.

Over the next two years, the CLEANER project office will coordinate planning efforts, including refining the key science questions and grand challenges to be tackled by CLEANER, developing a unified vision for the facilities and sensor technology required, understanding the cyberinfrastructure requirements, determining how social scientists and economists can be involved in CLEANER and outlining strategies for the educational component of CLEANER at the K-12, undergraduate and graduate levels. At the end of the two-year grant, the collaborators will produce a strategic plan that sets forth a roadmap for CLEANER development.

The project office will be led by three co-directors, including Schnoor; principal investigator Barbara Minsker, leader of NCSA's Environmental Engineering, Science, and Hydrology group and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at UIUC; and Charles Haas, professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at Drexel University.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,