The Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) was created in 2008 as a partnership amongst Stanford University, Hopkins Marine Station, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. COS created a unique forum for experts in marine science to find innovative ways to address ocean challenges.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Meg Caldwell and Science Director Larry Crowder, COS initially concentrated on three focal areas critical to solving key challenges: climate change, land-sea interactions, and ecosystem health. The team worked with research and decision-making communities to understand how climate change is affecting ocean and coastal system dynamics. Project topics included coastal adaptation policy, California fisheries management, Kelp Forest Array monitoring, ocean tipping points, and rapid environmental disaster response. COS also hosted the Monterey Area Research Institutions' Network for Education (MARINE) program, which provides professional development opportunities to prepare future ocean leaders for interdisciplinary, real-world problem-solving.
As Caldwell and Crowder concluded their time at the helm, COS celebrated its ten-year anniversary and set a foundation to advance its impact into the future as a Stanford-based center, part of the Woods Institute for the Environment. Fiorenza Micheli and Jim Leape joined the team as joint co-directors in April 2017, bringing vision and experience to new initiatives. Together, our team seeks to catalyze research, innovation, and action to improve the health of the oceans for the people who depend on them most.
A hallmark of the COS approach is convening collaborative transdisciplinary partnerships, which ensure not only cutting-edge science, but also translation through policy, management, and on-the-ground activities that lead to a healthier ocean. Using this approach, COS set several new initiatives in motion: Oceans & Food, Sustainable Ocean Economies, Addressing Illegal Fishing and Labor Abuses, Managing Ocean Risk, and Small-Scale Fisheries & Tech. Each of the initiatives is built upon intense collaborations — with researchers across the university and in other leading institutions, government, nongovernmental organizations and corporate partners. Through fellowships, student engagement, and advancing new project directions, these collaborations have been essential to our ambition — nearly 15 years since our creation — to work from insight to impact.
These projects were completed between 2008 and 2018, during the first phase of COS.
- Developing faster, cheaper and more sensitive monitoring approaches to understand shifts in biodiversity and ecosystem services
- Is my beach safe today? Measuring water quality in near real-time for human health.
- Monitoring and understanding local impacts of global climate change
- Providing professional development opportunities to prepare future ocean leaders for interdisciplinary, real world problem-solving
- Embedding the science of tipping points in ocean management.
- Bridging gaps for effective science-based disaster response
- Building robust frameworks to help California manage ocean fisheries
- Assisting coastal decision-makers to incorporate an ecosystem service approach for proactive climate adaptation planning
- Harmonizing the law, science and practice of cumulative impact assessment to better manage human activities that impact coasts and oceans.
- Assessing threats of human activities to marine protected areas
- Facilitating dialogue on the potential impacts of ocean desalination on coastal and marine ecosystems
- Helping marine managers become more efficient, more consistent, and advance the integration of ecosystem-based management
- Convening the best minds across multiple disciplines to drive creative solutions