NEWPORT, Ore. - Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center has formed a partnership with marine research laboratories in Hawaii and Japan for a program of cooperative research, as well as student and faculty exchange.

George Boehlert, director of OSU's Newport-based center, traveled to Ehime University in Matsuyama, Japan, to sign the agreement along with a representative of the University of Hawaii.

The agreement will create a new partnership focusing on marine sciences between OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center, Ehime University's Center for Marine Environmental Studies, and the University of Hawaii's Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

"Each of our institutions has strengths in teaching, research and facilities that complement those of the others," said Boehlert. "We anticipate that this agreement will create opportunities for students and faculty at all three institutions."

Ehime University center has received a major Japanese award as a "21st Century Center of Excellence" and has expanded marine research in several areas. It has strengths in coastal oceanography, marine microbiology and pollutant stressors in marine ecosystems.

The University of Hawaii center has strengths in coral reef and tropical ecology, and a new director - JoAnn Leong - who formerly was on the OSU faculty as a professor of microbiology.

The first tangible results of the partnership should come soon, when Ehime University students journey to Newport, and possibly to OSU's main campus in Corvallis, for research internships and coursework in topics not available at Ehime.

Initial collaborative research may include work on the role of viruses in fish disease and on pollutant levels in tissues of marine mammals and seabirds.

"Many of the issues we face in marine science are Pacific-wide," said Boehlert, "and agreements of this kind allow us to address the science in a broader fashion. We are looking forward to further collaboration with the Japanese and Hawaiian scientists."

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George Boehlert, 541-867-0211