A leading federal science director and oceanographer who has overseen research efforts at two major federal agencies, will become the new vice president for research at Oregon State University in July.

Richard W. "Rick" Spinrad said Thursday that he is looking forward to returning to the city and university that launched his career.

Spinrad received his master's degree from OSU in 1978 and his doctorate in oceanography in 1982.

"We are so excited; the happiest, best years of my life were spent in Corvallis," he said, from a staff retreat outside Washington, D.C.

He will leave his current post as assistant administrator for research for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to begin his new duties at OSU on July 1. But, he said, he'd probably be back and forth a few times before then.

Spinrad said one of the bittersweet aspects of accepting his new post was realizing that he no longer will work with Jane Lubchenco. She was promoted from being an internationally recognized environmental scientist and marine ecologist at OSU to the head of NOAA after her Senate confirmation last March.

"She's a warm person and great scientist," Spinrad said.

In addition to his NOAA stint, Spinrad has served as a research director with the U.S. Navy, taught oceanography at two universities, directed a major national nonprofit organization and presided over Sea Tech Inc., a firm that developed oceanographic instrumentation.

Spinrad said that the company remains a going concern and a leader in its field, although it was bought out by Wet Labs in Philomath.

Spinrad said he hopes to see other, similar happy marriages of research and industry in his new job at OSU.

"I want to strengthen research partnerships with the private sector," he said. He noted that OSU President Ed Ray has targeted increasing such partnerships from about 3 percent of OSU's research to 10 percent.

"I see other opportunities (at increasing revenue from research) associated with intellectual property rights, technology transfer, development and innovation."

Corvallis also could see an economic boost from that kind of partnership, he said, mentioning that OSU "is in a prime position" to launch spin-off companies and develop patents on its research.

"One advantage of my experience (with NOAA) was traveling around to other universities. Norman, Okla. (home of the University of Oklahoma), had 10 to 12 corporations of various sizes that hired graduates and supported (locally developed) technology."

Among his many additional accomplishments, Spinrad led the development of the nation's first set of ocean research priorities and oversaw the revamping of NOAA's research enterprise.

He also spent two years as NOAA's assistant administrator for Oceanic Services and Coastal Zone Management, directing the agency's navigation services, including the National Geodetic Survey, the National Marine Sanctuaries Program and the Office of Coastal Resource Management. As part of his duties, he represented U.S. interests in the establishment of a global tsunami warning system.

OSU News and Communications contributed to this report.

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