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WHOI wishes the National Science Foundation a Happy 70th anniversary

Statement from Rick Murray, Deputy Director and Vice President for Research, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

WHOI manages the NSF-funded Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), an integrated infrastructure program composed of science-driven platforms and sensor systems that measure physical, chemical, geological and biological properties and processes from the seafloor to the air-sea interface, for the entire ocean science community. (Photo by Ken Kostel ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
WHOI manages the NSF-funded Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), an integrated infrastructure program composed of science-driven platforms and sensor systems that measure physical, chemical, geological and biological properties and processes from the seafloor to the air-sea interface, for the entire ocean science community. (Photo by Ken Kostel ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

On May 10, 1950, Congress approved the National Science Foundation Act “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes.” This week, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of NSF’s founding, but we also celebrate something even bigger.

Five years earlier, Vanevar Bush submitted his recommendations, made at the request of President Roosevelt, to create a program that would establish the U.S. as a center of scientific research worldwide. His report, “Science – The endless frontier,” laid the foundation for the NSF and in his letter of transmittal to the President, he wrote:

"The pioneer spirit is still vigorous within this nation. Science offers a largely unexplored hinterland for the pioneer who has the tools for his task. The rewards of such exploration both for the Nation and the individual are great. Scientific progress is one essential key to our security as a nation, to our better health, to more jobs, to a higher standard of living, and to our cultural progress."

For the past 70 years, with the tireless support of the NSF and its staff, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the entire ocean science community have worked to uphold this spirit of discovery, of seeking new knowledge, and of addressing problems central to our security, health, and economic prosperity.

NSF support has helped build the tools and infrastructure that support research in our vast, complex, and interconnected ocean that have helped us better understand the planetary systems that make life on Earth possible. Today, we can point to fundamental discoveries and technical breakthroughs that have established a stronger understanding of the ocean’s role in weather and climate, revealed the intricate link between the ocean and human health, provided us access to the deepest parts of the ocean and new lifeforms and processes found there, and laid the groundwork for the burgeoning Blue Economy. It has also given us the ability to train new generations of scientists and engineers who press the boundaries of every discovery and who together form part of the most skilled workforce in history.

For all of these benefits, we are grateful and, at the same time that we celebrate 70 years of commitment to excellence in research made possible by NSF investment, we also look forward to continued progress into that limitless “unexplored hinterland” and the vast potential that the future holds.