Advantages and Disadvantages of Management Models for Accommodating Seismological and Geodetic Facility Capabilities
Following the panel discussion, focus of the workshop shifted from considering management models in general to considering how they might be applied to seismological and geodetic facilities. Workshop participants were divided into four preassigned breakout groups (see Session 3 in the workshop agenda, Appendix B), and were given 1 hour to discuss how well seismological and geodetic facility capabilities, emerging research needs, and technical innovation might be accommodated by the various models. Each breakout group was assigned a moderator from the workshop planning committee and a rapporteur from the Catalyzing Opportunities for Research in the Earth Sciences (CORES) consensus study committee. The rapporteur for each group captured the main points of the group’s discussion and presented those points in the plenary session that followed. All four breakout groups were given the same prompting questions to guide their discussions (see Box 5.1) to which the groups responded to varying extents. Discussions on related issues were welcomed by the moderators. The sections below summarize the brief reports provided by each of the breakout groups.
Steve Jacobsen, Northwestern University
Line Management Versus Matrix Structure Management
Steve Jacobsen presented the discussion of Group 1, which compared line management (e.g., that of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology [IRIS] and UNVACO) versus matrix management structures (e.g., Battelle and National Ecological Observatory Network [NEON]). When a line management structure is employed, leadership and program managers (departments) run the facilities and issue sub-awards as needed within their in-line functional areas. Administrative and technical expertise may be outsourced to keep overhead costs low. In a matrix management system, the matrix may be envisioned with rows that represent different areas of expertise or capacity distributed across columns that represent projects. Different projects might rely on the same groups of experts distributed across the rows—in other words, all projects draw on the same pool of experts across the facility. With this model, little outsourcing may be necessary.
Jacobsen reported on the group’s discussion about aging instrumentation and the advantages of in-house expertise for retooling and repurposing the instruments. In some cases, and with the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) approval, the instruments could be donated to schools in developing countries, for example. The group also discussed management issues that arise when new instrumentation is obtained, for example, accommodating new data streams or developing new software. He said that larger data sets may have to be handled, processed, and archived within the facility, requiring additional resources.
Shemin Ge, University of Colorado Boulder
Shemin Ge reported on her group’s “free-flow” exchange of ideas. When discussing management structures, her group focused mostly on IRIS and UNAVCO and she presented the following overarching points:
- IRIS and UNAVCO engage the seismological and geodetic communities well.
- Assessments of whether IRIS and UNAVCO meet community goals is primarily through feedback among IRIS and UNAVCO board members and their respective research communities. Issues are identified and addressed through changes within each facility. Board members are held accountable if research community goals are not met through the election of new board members.
- The elected community-based advisory boards at IRIS and UNAVCO are effective in responding to community needs.
- EarthScope is a good example of how the facilities meet scientific goals of the research community.
- There are fundamental funding, institutional, and organizational differences between NSF and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that inform how data are managed by their respective facilities.
- The current management structures of IRIS and UNAVCO promote education, outreach, and diversity, including gender diversity, on their boards.
Ge reported that IRIS and UNAVCO accommodate technical innovation by keeping “their ears to the community.” The facilities used to prioritize broadband instrumentation, which is expensive and involve long-term experimentation. The research community now prioritizes faster solutions, and the facilities are responding by considering the tradeoffs associated with shorter-period, portable, and less expensive instrumentation. Ge reported that scientific innovation has become the norm for IRIS and UNAVCO.
George Gehrels, The University of Arizona
George Gehrels summarized his group’s discussion and stated that all of the existing facilities described during the workshop were well organized, were managed mostly by domain experts rather than business managers, and received abundant community input. These factors give the research communities confidence that the facilities are science based. Gehrels reported that because IRIS and UNAVCO scientists do not generate and analyze data that go through their facilities, negative perceptions of IRIS and UNAVCO scientists having early access to the data are avoided. IRIS and UNAVCO management structures work well in response to change, as demonstrated through the development of EarthScope, according to Gehrels. His group’s view was that IRIS’s evolution from a small program to a much larger one seemed to go smoothly. UNAVCO management was challenged early on, he said, but seems to be functioning well now.
The group discussed how management could support technological innovation and Gehrels provided the following summarizing comments:
- Combining land and marine geophysical research is an opportunity that might be pursued by the research communities.
- Innovation requires close interaction between researchers (i.e., facility users), facility personnel, and facility management. This kind of interaction creates opportunities for science and for funding partnerships among agencies and organizations.
- Opportunities for using machine learning and artificial intelligence are important to explore.
- Users and scientists were viewed as the primary drivers of innovation occurring in facilities.
- Junior investigators help drive innovation and energize facilities and IRIS and UNAVCO engage them well.
Diana Elder, Northern Arizona University
Diana Elder said her group used the questions (see Box 5.1) to organize their discussion. The group described management models more generally than the other groups, and organized the presentation by the facility capabilities (instrumentation, user support services, data management, education and outreach, and workforce development). The overarching themes discussed by that group, as presented by Elder, are described below.
Instrumentation and User Support Services
Elder summarized her group’s discussion with the following ideas:
- Consortium models offer advantages by providing a large instrument pool and dedicated managers.
- There are advantages to management models that provide easy access to instrumentation and facility expertise for early career investigators.
- There are advantages to management and governance models that incorporate advisory boards in facility decision making in terms of representing research community needs.
- Consortium models may be disadvantageous in terms of the long lead time needed to schedule experiments.
- Matrix models may be disadvantageous in terms of availability and accessibility of dedicated staff with particular expertise, especially for early-career investigators.
Elder reported that her group saw a perceived advantage to having a strong connection between data collection, archiving, and servicing. Some participants raised concerns about the effects of those activities being managed by different entities, but others thought such arrangements have worked well. There is a need for research community trust in the organizations providing those different services.
Education and Outreach and Workforce Development
Elder indicated that her group saw advantages to a management system that allowed for close connections between scientists doing work in the field and facility education and outreach programs. She noted that the scientific community and the public are more easily inspired if there is a closer connection between scientists and outreach products. Some of the management models discussed during the workshop, and particularly the consortia, were able to build large communities of science educators. Consortia of universities, according to Elder’s group, are the best places to build a scientific workforce.
Frequent, small community meetings were an important component of many of the facilities discussed during the workshop. Elder reported that her group considered it advantageous to have a management model that brings the community together regularly to highlight the state of the art.
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