IRIS Proposes Scientific Exchange with China

On March 23-24, 2009, Ray Willemann, IRIS's Director of Planning, and Paul Richards, Mellon Professor of the Natural Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, participated in the Third China-U.S. Roundtable on Scientific Data Cooperation in Qingdao, China. The Roundtable Discussions are organized by the China and U.S. National Committees for CODATA (Committee on Data for Science and Technology, an interdisciplinary committee of the International Council of Science) as a forum for stakeholders to address scientific data practices and as a catalyst for bilateral cooperation.

Chaired by Roberta Balstad, a senior fellow at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), and Guo Huadong, Director of the Center for Earth Observation and Digital Earth of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the meetings are an opportunity to review data exchanges with attention from the highest relevant levels of each government. Participants at this year's meeting included Fu Xiao-Feng, Director of the Division of General Affairs and Basic Research in the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, and Alexander DeAngelis, Director of the Beijing Office of the U.S. National Science Foundation.

As part of the effort to catalyze cooperation, the meeting chairpeople collect bilateral project proposals, which are described in the meeting reports that are delivered to science policy organizations in both countries. Recipients of the reports include the China and U.S. Academies of Science, the Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the U.S. National Science Foundation, the China Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), and the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy.

In his presentation, Ray Willemann made two project proposals. In the first, he proposed that the China Earthquake Administration and the IRIS Data Management Center exchange one month of continuous data from 50 to 100 seismic stations in each country. The one-month period was intended to be sufficient for pilot studies that foster full-scale collaborative projects by demonstrating research that is possible only with continuous data, such as ambient noise tomography, analysis of episodic tremor and slip, discovery of slow earthquakes and repeating earthquakes, and monitoring stress changes on faults. The objective is to move forward quickly so that pilot projects can be described at the Fourth Roundtable, which might be held during the first half of 2010.

Willemann's second proposal was to open the IRIS Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program for two undergraduate students from China during the summer of 2010. Funding for the REU program can be used only to support students from within the U.S., so Willemann is asking universities in China to seek financial support for their students' participation from NSFC or MOST. John Taber, IRIS's Education and Outreach Program Manager, has offered to leverage the infrastructure of the existing program, including the one-week intern orientation at New Mexico Tech and the process used to pair interns with U.S. hosts, to ensure each project is successful.