Directors Statement

My first year at UCSB as the Director of the Earth Research Institute has been one of listening and learning as I became familiar with the scientific efforts of my new peers, gained an understanding of campus administration, built new collaborations across units, and began to implement new initiatives within ERI. Throughout the past 15 months, the outstanding research of ERI PIs, graduate students, and research team members has been a daily inspiration. In the past fiscal year, ERI-affiliated faculty and researchers from across campus submitted 115 proposals requesting almost $40 million in funding. We secured NSF support to improve campus network infrastructure, recruited four new ERI-affiliated junior faculty to campus, distributed supplemental research awards and travel grants to 40 graduate students, and broke ground on the largest restoration project in campus history. We continued to implement the recommendations of our 2014 External Review Committee by (1) expanding campus environmental data curation efforts; (2) improving communication and collaboration amongst ERI affiliates; (3) increasing support for our soft-money researchers; and (4) developing more comprehensive campus planning efforts around faculty hires in Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Recruitment and retention of the world’s most creative and productive Earth and Environmental researchers is the most critical long-term determinant of ERI’s success. During the 2016-2017 academic year, an extremely successful cluster hire effort in Earth Surface Processes brought four new faculty to campus: Vamsi Ganti (Geography), Kristin Morell (Earth Science), Scott Jasechko (Bren), and Samantha Stevenson (Bren). These most recent hires join 6 other faculty - Kelly Caylor (ERI Director/Geography/Bren), Tim DeVries (Geography), Qinghua Ding (Geography), Nick Nidzieko (Geography), Zachary Eilon (Earth Science), and Alyson Santoro (EEMB) as the most recent ERI-affiliated faculty who have joined UCSB in the past three years. Recruitment is currently underway for an Assistant Professor in Environmental Data Science and Informatics. Overall, the feeling within ERI is one of both renewal and growth as we take on a new generation of PIs who will inherit the mantle of campus leadership in Earth and Environmental scholarship at UCSB in the coming decades.  

As we begin our 8th year as an institute, we are poised to move forward energetically with a diverse, interdisciplinary mix of junior and senior researchers conducting high-impact, well-funded research supported by a dedicated and highly capable staff of administrative and IT professionals. This annual report provides a snapshot of the Earth Research Institute in 2016-2017, the research we do and the impact of these efforts.

Kelly Caylor

Director, Earth Research Institute