Busalacchi Arranges UM Visit to OU Research Campus

On the heels of the 93rd annual AMS Meeting, ESSIC Director & ConE Chair Professor, Antonio Busalacci, led a delegation of UMD Officials on a visit to the Oklahoma University Research Campus (URC) in Norman, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma’s University Research Campus is a collaborative environment where academia, industry, and government build on the university’s intellectual vitality.

Busalacchi, who chairs the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) for the National Research Council, stated he was first introduced to the unique environment at URC approximately two years ago.

“Every year we like to have one of our (BASC) meetings at a leading university in atmospheric and climate sciences,” said Busalacchi. “So a couple of years ago, we went to the University of Oklahoma at Norman, Oklahoma.”

According to Busalacchi however, the selection of the URC for that particular BASC meeting venue wasn’t based solely on scientific reputation.

One of the things we wanted to appreciate better was the “Public-University-Private” partnership that OU has developed in Atmospheric Science.”

Busalacchi likened the URC conceptually to that of the University of Maryland’s own Research Park (M-Square), but noted OU’s organization has seen the benefit of 10+ years of evolution and maturation.

“About ten years ago, they opened up a building funded by the state where they have the NOAA Civil servants for NOAA’s Severe Storm Laboratory, they have the school of Meteorology – so they have the OU faculty – and  the equivalent of our “CICS” (the UMD/NOAA Cooperative Institute), “CIMMS” (Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies), all in one building.”

Busalacchi furthered that the University Research Campus has evolved over time to include an element with the private sector, comprised by companies both eager to tap and expand upon the amassed expertise.  “So now they (URC) have private sector groups that are leveraging off of both the federal scientists and the university scientists,” said Busalacchi.

Many other OU departments, centers, and offices, including that of the Office of the Vice President for Research (Office of the VPR), now comprise the URC.

When asked why he’d helped broker the UMD visit to the campus, Busalacchi suggested that as M-Square’s “closest analog,” the URC visit offered an opportunity to both “observe and learn.”   Busalacchi additionally felt the timing of the visit – which had been arranged some months ago – was now particularly relevant, given the recent opening of NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate Prediction at the Maryland Research Park.

The delegation from UMD included Vice President for Research and Chief Research Officer Dr. Patrick O’Shea, Mr. Brian Darmody, J.D., Associate Vice President for Research and Economic Development, and Director of Corporate Relations, Robert M. Specter,  UMD Chief Fiscal and Administrative Officer.

In closing, Busalacchi remarked that the visit had been an enlightening experience and suggested the UMD delegation left Norman “quite impressed and with a number of take home messages.”

Busalacchi also expressed his thanks and gratitude to OU, stating the organization was “extremely gracious, very open, and continues to be very supportive of what we (UMD) want to accomplish here.”