The largest, most ambitious geoscience program ever undertaken, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is an international partnership of scientists and research institutions formed to explore the evolution and structure of the Earth. The lead agencies in IODP are the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology (MEXT). IMI, a not-for-profit corporation, has qualified to fill the role of the central management office for IODP.
"Manik's appointment as president of IMI is testament not only to the groundbreaking work he has been doing in Earth Sciences, but also to his proven leadership over the years in public-private research partnerships," said Rice President Malcolm Gillis. "He is an exemplary choice for a position of such international scope."
IODP will use new resources and multiple platforms to support technologically advanced ocean drilling research, enabling investigation of Earth regions and processes that were previously inaccessible and poorly understood. Japan and the United States are each contributing a drilling platform. The Japanese vessel, the Chikyu (meaning "The Earth"), will be a state-of-the art, riser-equipped, dynamically positioned drill ship operated by the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center. The U.S. drill ship, JOIDES Resolution, is a non-riser vessel operated by Texas A&M University through the JOI Alliance.
As IODP gets underway, significant scientific and financial participation is also anticipated from Europe, which will provide the international IODP community with "mission-specific" platforms for drilling in special environments such as the very shallow-water portions of continental shelves and high-latitude ice-covered seas like the Arctic.
IMI's role includes coordination between IODP's science advisory structure, the lead agencies and the implementing organizations. IMI will also be responsible for integrating scientific objectives into an effective operational plan, and it will make decisions concerning the most efficient means of implementing the program plan.
"This opportunity for Professor Talwani is very exciting," said Kathleen S. Matthews, dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences at Rice. "The high visibility and international character of this position affirm his broad perspective and deep knowledge in this area. Rice is very proud of this honor and the attendant attention for our fine Earth Science department."
"Manik is a widely respected geoscientist with a distinguished record of achievement and service," said IMI Interim President Paul L. Stoffa, director of the Institute for Geophysics at The University of Texas at Austin. "Having a strong president in place, who can work effectively with the global scientific drilling community to guide the program as it embarks on its first five-year phase, is a major step forward for the IODP."
Talwani, the Schlumberger Professor of Geophysics, earned a Master of Physics from Delhi University in India and a doctorate from Columbia University, where he served as professor of geophysics until 1982. Talwani also served as director of Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory (now the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) from 1973 to 1981. He left Lamont for Gulf Oil Company, where he served first as director of the Center for Crustal Studies and later as chief scientist. When Chevron acquired Gulf in 1985, he accepted an appointment at Rice and simultaneously founded the Geotechnology Research Institute at the Houston Advanced Research Center, where he served as director until 1998. Talwani will remain a member of Rice's faculty but will be take a leave of absence to serve at IMI.
Talwani's scientific leadership has contributed greatly to our understanding of how oceans and continents evolve. He is widely known for his studies of the Earth's crust and the dynamics of continental margins and ocean basins. His scientific achievements have earned many honors and awards, including the Krishnan Gold Medal from the Indian Geophysical Union, and the Macelwane Medal and Ewing Medal, both from the American Geophysical Union (the latter award given jointly with the U.S. Navy). He is also a recipient of the Woollard Award from the Geological Society of America, NASA's Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award (for sending the first gravimeter to the Moon), and the Wegener Medal from the European Union of Geosciences. Talwani is a Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Science. He is also a member of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences, having received Fulbright and Guggenheim awards to first study in Norway in 1974. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Oslo in 1981.