“Technology first: new technology should drive SOI science program”

Eric Schmidt • Founder and President


Call for Expressions of Interest in Collaborative Research on R/V Falkor in 2019

Expression of Interests due annually the first Friday of December

Schmidt Ocean Institute is uniquely structured as an oceanographic research facility operator on a mission to transform ocean sciences with innovation in research technologies, marine operational practices, and information sharing. We seek to advance the frontiers of global ocean research by providing state of the art operational, technological, and informational support to pioneering marine science and technology development projects at sea. Our select collaborators are provided with free access to the research vessel Falkor, its on-board research facilities and equipment, and associated expert technical, operational, and informational support.

What We Support

Schmidt Ocean Institute does not provide for the costs of shore-side scientific activities at our collaborator’s host institutions, or scientists’ salaries. However, Schmidt Ocean Institute has been supporting several technology development initiatives in preparation to the upcoming research cruises on R/V Falkor, and support is also available for the provisioning of innovative research instrumentation, advanced robotic systems, platforms, sensors, high-performance shipboard computing, data analysis, interpretation, and distribution services. Schmidt Ocean Institute determines which projects will receive its operational support between one and two years in advance of the respective research cruises.  We recommend that Schmidt Ocean Institute support is leveraged in applications to other sources to fund related land-based scientific activities.

Our research program development efforts are informed through a continuous dialogue with the global oceanographic research community. Please refer to the following links for reports on the findings and recommendations stemming from our recent 2013 Research Symposium2014 Planning Workshop and 2015 Planning Workshop.

Our supported projects:

  • will have strong promise to advance global ocean research and exploration through effective, exemplary use of innovative technologies – or will be focused on advancing scientific technologies and practices, through research, development, and testing at sea,
  • will be likely to produce scalable impact,
  • may be out of funding focus of other agencies, e.g. due to high risk, yet will offer an even higher potential reward,
  • will substantially and uniquely benefit from a collaboration with Schmidt Ocean Institute onboard R/V Falkor,
  • will be fully committed to openly sharing the research findings and resulting scientific data.

Project Locations

The region where R/V Falkor will support oceanographic research projects in 2019 will be selected to accommodate the top ranking Expressions of Interest that Schmidt Ocean Institute will receive in response to this call.  This will help us maximize overall Schmidt Ocean Institute program impact potential in alignment with the SOI Strategic Focus Areas.  Should your project be flexible with regards to the geographical regions where it can be carried out, please be sure to describe that in your Expression of Interest.


Open call for 1-2 page Expressions of Interests in collaborative research on R/V Falkor will continue through December 2, 2016 (current scheduling estimate).

  1. All received Expressions of Interest will be reviewed by independent non-conflicted experts to determine research themes that will have the highest probability of generating long-term impact in alignment with the strategic interests of Schmidt Ocean Institute as well as the target geographic regions for 2019. We estimate this planning phase to span the period between December 2, 2016 and March 31, 2017.

  2. Approximately 25 full research proposals will be solicited in a targeted manner from a subset of research groups who submit the most promising Expressions of Interest as determined by the peer expert evaluations. A tentative due date for the full proposal submission to Schmidt Ocean Institute is expected to be June 2, 2017.
  3. Full proposals will be formally evaluated by independent non-conflicted experts in the fields of research pertinent to the proposed ocean research and technology development. Formal mail-in evaluations will tentatively take place between June and September 2017.
  4. An interdisciplinary review panel consisting of independent non-conflicted broad-area experts will be convened by Schmidt Ocean Institute to evaluate all proposals against the strategic interests of Schmidt Ocean Institute, tentatively in September of 2017. All proposals will be assigned an approval priority ranking based on the panel evaluations.
  5. A prioritized list of evaluated proposals will be compared against Schmidt Ocean Institute’s operational target areas and logistical constraints, and a proposed 2019 R/V Falkor operational schedule will be developed, with priority given to the highest ranked research projects.

The consolidated 2019 R/V Falkor scheduling, operational, and budgetary proposal will be reviewed and approved by the Schmidt Ocean Institute Board of Directors. All proponents will be informed about the outcomes of the proposal review process, tentatively, by October 2017.


Expressions of interest shall include one cover page and no more than 2 pages of body text typed in single-spaced 12 point font, including any figures, tables, references, and any other supplementary materials. Electronic submissions in MS Word and PDF format will be accepted in email at proposals@schmidtocean.org through December 2, 2016. Upon the email submission, please provide the basic application details through this on-line survey form.

Cover Page

  • Include full project title at the top of page, in bold
  • Include the names and affiliations of all Principal Investigators and Co-Principal Investigators
  • List the key fields of research and/or technology development pertinent to the proposed study
  • Describe the targeted geographical region(s) and indicate how flexible the research is with respect to the target geographical regions
  • Specify the amount of ship time and major equipment requested (e.g. 3 weeks on R/V Falkor, 4500m ROV,  AUV, ship-board bio-molecular sequencing capability, high performance computing system, GPU (Graphic Processing Unit) array, broadband satellite connectivity, etc.). Details on ship science systems can be found here.
  • What are the goals of the project and its intended scientific, technological, and operational impacts?
  • How will this work contribute to the strategic interests of Schmidt Ocean Institute?
  • What will be the tentative cruise plan, including route and duration? Should your project have flexibility with regards to the geographical regions where it can be carried out, please describe how flexible it is in this respect.
  • What R/V Falkor research facilities and instruments will be used?
  • What additional equipment will be used (or would be desirable) and where will it be obtained (if not already owned by host institution)?
  • Are there any parts of the project that have already been funded?
  • Schmidt Ocean Institute does not offer support for the land-based scientific activities or for the scientist’s salaries. How will these costs be funded?
  • Provide the names and e-mail addresses of 4-5 suggested non-conflicted reviewers

General Evaluation Criteria

In alignment with the vision, mission, and strategic focus areas of Schmidt Ocean Institute, our non-conflicted peer referees will be using the following general criteria to evaluate the applications for collaborative research and technology development on R/VFalkor:

    1. Opportunities to demonstrate innovation in marine scientific operations and practices
      Questions for Consideration: How efficient are the proposed data collection methods? How well are the proposed research plans (for scientific observations, experimentation, data and sample collections at sea) informed by the analysis and interpretation of new observations and data collected during the cruise? How well are the proposed data collection platforms and methods matched to the proposed observations and research objectives?
    2. Opportunities for the advancement of ocean research technologies, practices, and methods
      Questions for Consideration: Do the project objectives include R&D, prototyping, or testing of new oceanographic technologies, practices, or methods? How significant are the implications of the proposed technology / methodology R&D for ocean sciences? How clearly is the proposed R&D approach articulated? How well does the proposed R&D approach address the key pertinent project challenges?
    3. Evidence of significant intrinsic intellectual merit and impact potential
      Questions for Consideration: How important is the proposed research for ocean sciences? How significant are the implications of the proposed research for the society?  What is the quality of the proposed research plan? How comprehensively does the proposed research plan address the stated project objectives?
    4. Quality of the data sharing plan
      Questions for Consideration: How rapidly will the collected data be QA/QC’d, integrated, post-processed and shared with the public? What fraction of the data will be processed and made available to the public over the Internet during the cruise? How well is the data sharing plan adhering to the accepted community data management standards? How well are the proposed data repositories matched to the collected data types? Are there any data for which the mechanisms of sharing with the public are not well defined?
    5. Quality of the proposed outreach plan
      Questions for Consideration: How effectively will the data collected during the cruise be interpreted, visualized, and communicated to the broad audiences? What new method of data and knowledge interpretation are proposed as part of the communications and outreach program? What opportunities will be offered for the engagement of citizen scientists? How interactive is the proposed outreach plan?


Data Management

Underway data collected using embedded instrument systems on R/V Falkor during the research cruises will be made available to the general public via Schmidt Ocean Institute’s partnership with the Rolling Deck to Repository (R2R) program. The data types curated by R2R can be found here.

Sensor-based marine geoscience data, such as robotic vehicle still images, metadata, and processed multibeam data will be made available via Schmidt Ocean Institute’s partnership with Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS). The data types curated by MGDS can be found here.

Schmidt Ocean Institute collaborates with the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) on the quality assurance of the multibeam mapping system operation onboard R/V Falkor and the collected data. Our collaborators from CCOM conduct annual testing and calibration of R/V Falkor’s multibeam echosounders to ensure the high quality of the collected multibeam data. As that may be necessary, SOI can coordinate with CCOM to organize post-processing of raw collected multibeam data, e.g. if it is not possible for the science party to process the data onboard Falkor during the cruise.

Additional partnerships with University of Hawaii Data Acquisition System (UHDAS) and Florida State University Shipboard Automated Meteorological and Oceanographic System (SAMOS) provide quality assurance for the data collected with the R/VFalkor’s Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) and meteorological instrumentation respectively. These data are continuously collected onboard Falkor, sent to UHDAS and SAMOS in near real-time for quality assurance, and archived in R2R post-cruise.

Schmidt Ocean Institute currently does not have established partnerships to archive data related to physical samples, such as e.g. biological specimens, outcomes of genetic analysis, or data collected with third-party specialized instruments brought on board. We encourage the proponents to carefully consider how all types of data sets collected during the proposed research cruises will be post-processed, managed, and shared with the public – particularly focusing on those types of data, for which SOI currently does not have a well-established management workflow.

General Outreach

For all cruises, one berth aboard Falkor is reserved for a Schmidt Ocean Institute multimedia journalist. This individual is responsible for managing blogs, website maintenance, press interaction, some photo and video capture, and facilitates ship-to-shore communications. Schmidt Ocean Institute encourages applications that provide innovative and unique outreach opportunities which go beyond what is already offered. Schmidt Ocean Institute currently does not provide assistance with the following projects, but welcomes applications that wish to include:

  • Citizen science development and projects
  • Technology development for outreach (e.g.) websites, 3-D modeling, image tagging, etc.
  • Related curriculum or lesson plan development
  • Collaborations with educators, education institutions, museums and aquariums
  • Collaborations with artists, art installation projects, or related arts-based activities
  • Featured stories or articles with magazines, papers, television programs
  • Documentaries or broadcast programing
  • Multidisciplinary outreach programs or projects