University of British Columbia researchers today launched a $13-million, nine-year research program...
The Nereus program is from the onset planned as a nine-year activity recognizing the need to develop an international research network that can analyze the global ocean and for educating a group of young researchers with capacity to develop the research further. There is presently very little capacity for global ocean modeling focused on developing scenarios for how life in the oceans will develop under climate change and as a result of direct human impact. The Nereus program is designed to change this situation.
The program will have a core group of researchers and staff at UBC who will coordinate the activities and work closely with The Nippon Foundation, UBC, and the network partners. The key people and functions are:
Villy Christensen - Dr. Christensen serves as the Program Director for Nereus, appointed as Nippon Foundation Chair at UBC. Villy Christensen is considered a world leader in ecosystem-based fisheries management, and has served as advisor for numerous international initiatives. He has (co)-authored around 250 scientific publications, and has since 1990 been a project leader and a driving force for the development of the Ecopath ecosystem modeling approach and software. This software is the most widely used approach for ecosystem-based management of the oceans, and does in its newest version include coupling to a 3D-gaming engine for visualization, design of decision-support systems, single-player educational games, and animated documentaries. this will be of importance for the public awareness of the Nereus program. Prof. Christensen has recently developed a methodology for database-driven ecosystem model generation, and applied it to all of the world’s large marine ecosystems through a Global Environment Facility project. This approach will serve as a key methodology for the Nereus program. He has also developed the EcoOcean global modeling complex, which has been extensively used for international global environmental assessments, and the experience and track record this provides will serve to facilitate the proposed activity.
Yoshitaka Ota - Dr. Ota serves as Program Co-Director and Nippon Foundation Senior Research Fellow at UBC. He is a maritime anthropologist with extensive international experience in fisheries research in multidisciplinary settings. In addition to his academic research on the human dimensions of global fisheries, Dr. Ota will design and facilitate research collaborations between network institutions and coordinate their research progress in line with the scientific directions developed by the Steering Committee. Dr Ota will also act as a liaison between the Nereus network and Japanese researchers. Furthermore, he will oversee the web presence of the program and develop linkages between the Nereus program and other ocean programs within the Nippon Foundation.
Jeroen Steenbeek - The Nereus program relies on the integrated assessment of a vast number of spatial databases, which will be coupled to hydrographic, climate, economic, social, and management analysis. This requires considerable technical skills and will be the task for a senior system analyst who will be responsible for the databases development and model coupling. Jeroen Steenbeek is fulfilling this role with his extensive corporate as well as scientific experience with software development, database development and management, as well as model coupling.
Dalai Felinto - It is of vital importance to efficiently communicate the results and management options of the program to a non-scientific audience. We have to this effect developed a new, groundbreaking approach for visualization, where we use a 3D-gaming environment as an interface for the scientific simulations. Targeting and developing this for the Nereus program will require a visualization/gaming programmer with extensive experience in Python programming for the open source Blender gaming software and with coupling this to the Microsoft .NET framework, which is used for the scientific model environment. Mr. Dalai Felinto is the expert hired for this job.
Daniel Pauly's background is in fisheries biology, and he started his working career with the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM), in Manila, Philippines. Daniel Pauly in 1994 became Professor at the Fisheries Centre of The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, of which he was the Director for 5 years. Since 1999, he has been Principal Investigator of the Sea Around Us Project, funded by the Pew Environment Group, and devoted to studying, documenting and promoting policies to mitigate the impact of fisheries on the world’s marine ecosystems.