Background and History of the Subsurface Biosphere Initiative
In 2004, OSU developed a new Strategic
Plan to guide the University's direction for the 21st Century.
One plan component was a call to fund six interdisciplinary research initiatives.
The goal was to help the University become a leader in emerging interdisciplinary
fields by supporting targeted faculty hires, equipment purchases, scholarships
and other new program needs. OSU held an internal competition and teams of faculty
submitted proposals for the initiatives. The winning proposals were
selected in January 2005 and will each receive $300,000 annually for five
The Subsurface Biosphere Initiative was among the winning proposals. It was
written by faculty from four different colleges and will help position the University
as a leader in research and teaching about life below the Earth's surface. Below
is a list of the initiative's main goals and planned actions.
- Establish at OSU a center of excellence in subsurface biosphere education
- Foster the development of externally funded research centers and programs
and large interdisciplinary research grants.
- Support a top-tier multidisciplinary graduate education program relevant
to the subsurface biosphere.
- Support undergraduate and graduate research experiences that promote student
- Provide funding that will enable the hiring of several junior, tenure-track
faculty in key research areas that cross traditional boundaries between OSU
Colleges. The new faculty will help teach important courses and fill gaps
in OSU's expertise in subsurface biosphere research.
- Fund a mix of seed research, travel, and faculty time that will help develop
and renew large, extramurally funded projects, centers, and programs.
- Enhance communication and build community among OSU faculty and students
in different colleges but shared interests in the subsurface biosphere.
- Develop a website with information such as a subsurface biosphere faculty
directory and lists of research news, courses, and events.
- Develop an email distribution list that will allow postings of announcements
for seminars, courses, funding competitions, positions, and research opportunities.
- Sponsor relevant seminars by OSU faculty and from around the United
- Help recruit top tier graduate students and support activities of the NSF-funded
graduate fellowship program called the OSU-PSU Earth
Subsurface Biosphere IGERT program.
- Provide undergraduate and graduate research opportunities for women and
minority students. For example, provide paid undergraduate internships and
work with programs such as Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and
Related Sciences (MANRRS) and Women
and Minorities in Engineering (WME).