Under the recently announced two-year, $6 million cooperative agreement between the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) and the National Science Foundation (see the editorial on page 883), the NEON Design Consortium and Project Office, located at AIBS headquarters in Washington, DC, has now opened its doors. Bruce Hayden, professor at the University of Virginia and principal investigator for the NEON project, and William Michener, associate director of the Long Term Ecological Research Network, serve as the directors; Jeffrey Goldman, AIBS Science Office director, heads internal management.
The NEON Design Consortium and Project Office are planning for future NEON facilities across the country, where researchers from various disciplines will work together to improve scientific understanding of several "grand challenge" research areas, including the ecological implications of climate change; the relationships between biodiversity, species composition, and ecosystem function; the impacts of land use and habitat alteration; the ecology and evolution of infectious disease; the causes and consequences of invasive species; the ecological implications of biogeochemical cycles; and hydroecology. NEON will transform the way ecological research is conducted by bringing ecologists and engineers together with social, computer, and earth scientists to investigate important ecological phenomena across large geographical areas and long periods of time, and by creating new collaborative environments across multiple scientific disciplines. The network will also provide unique educational opportunities for students and the public alike.
A 10-member senior management team leads the project's suite of committees, comprising more than 100 scientists, educators, and engineers, in the development of a network blueprint and implementation plan. The success of the plan over the next two years relies heavily on the participation of members of the scientific and educational communities serving on NEON committees and reviewing NEON planning documents. See www.neoninc.org for nominating procedures and other information. Nominations will be reviewed beginning 8 October 2004.