Note: Mitchell Sogin, MBL Distinguished Senior Scientist, co-chairs the Deep Life Community in the Deep Carbon Observatory.
By Kasia Kornecki
These days, most researchers know very well that in order to get funding, it’s helpful to already have funding. The solemn reality of the grant cycle is that solid preliminary results and immediate applications are what beget federally funded projects. Rarely can you get money for just a neat idea or mysterious question.
Seed funding from the government in the form of high-risk grants from agencies like the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E can spur private sector growth, and serve as a strong economic reason to maintain federal investment in fundamental research (neat ideas and mysterious questions). The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) is a unique and uncanny example of private sector funding spurring federal investment, and it has many lessons to teach us about creating effective research funding structures. A generous $50M investment from the private sector (the Sloan Foundation) initiated a decade of interdisciplinary research that culminated in October 2019 at the DCO Conference in Washington, D.C. This decadal project that brought together over 1200 scientists from more than 50 countries has ballooned into a multitude of ongoing federally funded investigations on Earth’s deep carbon cycles, both in the U.S. and abroad. Over $600M has been obtained in continuing support to DCO scientists since 2009.
Dr. Sogin from the Marine Biological Laboratory ended the first morning of the conference by saying that DCO is “the most spectacular interdisciplinary community ever” – a sentiment echoed by many during the meeting. Read more …
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