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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Southern California
  • Jan P Amend
  • (213) 821-2267
  • Julie A Huber
  • Steven L D'Hondt
  • Andrew T Fisher
  • Charles G Wheat
Award Date:09/22/2010
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 24,874,312
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 47,474,312
  • FY 2010=$2,499,981
  • FY 2011=$4,920,265
  • FY 2020=$1,300,000
  • FY 2014=$4,999,341
  • FY 2016=$5,000,000
  • FY 2013=$4,999,662
  • FY 2017=$5,000,000
  • FY 2012=$4,955,301
  • FY 2015=$5,099,762
  • FY 2019=$3,700,000
  • FY 2018=$5,000,000
Start Date:10/01/2010
End Date:09/30/2021
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI)
Federal Award ID Number:0939564
DUNS ID:072933393
Parent DUNS ID:072933393
Program:STCs - 2010 Class
Program Officer:
  • Michael Sieracki
  • (703) 292-7585

Awardee Location

Street:University Park
City:Los Angeles
County:Los Angeles
Awardee Cong. District:37

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Southern California
Street:University Park
City:Los Angeles
County:Los Angeles
Cong. District:37

Abstract at Time of Award

Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) - A NSF Science and Technology Center for resolving the extent, function, dynamics and implications of the sub-seafloor. The Earth's "deep biosphere" includes a variety of sub-surface habitats on Earth, such as mines, aquifers, and soils on the continents, and the sediments and igneous rock below the ocean floor. It is estimated that nearly half of the total biomass on Earth resides in the deep biosphere. Technological hurdles have limited examination of the sub-surface biosphere sites to relatively few locations and only shallow drilling. These limits have hindered deep biosphere research, skewing data sets towards environmental accessibility, and precluding the development of a more accurate global census. The largest potential subsurface biome is also the least accessible: the sub-seafloor biosphere which is estimated to harbor one third of all biomass on Earth in the two environments of igneous ocean crust and sediments. Today, we know far too little about the organisms of these sub-surface microbial communities or the critical abiotic and biotic processes within this unique biosphere. However, attention to the sub-surface Earth and biology, is increasing, and the technologies available for sampling, monitoring, and experiments has dramatically improved in the last decade. Intellectual Merit: This Center will provide a framework for a large, multi-disciplinary group of scientists to pursue fundamental questions about life deep in the sub-surface environment of Earth. The fundamental science questions of C-DEBI involve exploration and discovery, uncovering the processes that constrain the sub-surface biosphere below the oceans, and implications to the Earth system. What type of life exists in this deep biosphere, how much, and how is it distributed and dispersed? What are the physical-chemical conditions that promote or limit life? What are the important oxidation-reduction processes and are they unique or important to humankind? How does this biosphere influence global energy and material cycles, particularly the carbon cycle? Finally, can we discern how such life evolved in geological settings beneath the ocean floor, and how this might relate to ideas about the origin of life on our planet? This Center will be led by a world-class team of investigators who bring different disciplinary foundations for the intellectual and technical challenges of the research: Drs. Katrina Edwards (University of Southern California); Andrew Fisher (University California, Santa Cruz), James Cowen (University of Hawai'i, Manoa), Steve D'Hondt (University of Rhode Island), and Jeff Wheat (University of Alaska, Fairbanks). These leaders, with their large group of collaborators in the Center, bring expertise in molecular biology, microbial ecology, hydro-geophysics, microbial biogeochemistry, geology, sediment and hydrothermal geochemistry, modeling, theory, and technology/instrument development. Broader Impacts: C-DEBI will develop new technologies and conceptual models for studying this realm; to train and educate the interdisciplinary scientists who will define and pursue the future of this science and excite the public; and to interface efficiently with the international ocean drilling enterprise: the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program. Coordination and integration of the research an education, the national and international projects, and the development and deployment of observing systems and experimental technology will be a strong focus of the Center. C-DEBI will accelerate interdisciplinary collaboration between PIs, post-docs, graduate and undergraduate students to uncover the nature and importance of the deep biosphere. The Center will train undergraduate and graduate students and provide fellowship support across the institutions. Existing courses and new ones will use C-DEBI science to teach fundamental knowledge about Earth systems and different life forms discovered in the deep biosphere. Public lectures, museum exhibits, and science-at-sea activities will be employed to inform and excite the public about their world. C-DEBI will train teachers and invest significantly in broadening the diversity of those who pursue science and technology careers in our nation. The Center will use the diversity of existing education, outreach and training programs, from K-8 through under-graduate programs, at all partnership institutions to help attract under-represented groups to science, and the Center will directly engage minority serving state universities and community colleges to meet this challenge. The lead institution is one of the most diverse campuses in the country, and partner institutions variously are well poised with regard to attracting Hispanics, African Americans, Native Hawai'ians and Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans. The C-DEBI group of scientists has been excellent in supporting gender diversity in graduate programs in the recent past, as do the departmental units in which the lead investigators sit. C-DEBI will specifically target career advancement for women in science, and the recruitment of women into ocean sciences. The investigators have a good record with regard to attracting Hispanic and Native American students at this level.

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