Project coordinators will create a resource that allows scientists to remotely study a range of the world’s fish species, from the exotic to the mundane. In collaboration with the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the scientists will also develop the “Digital Dissection Tool,” an educational program for high school students that capitalizes on the interactive scientific research aspects of the project.
“By creating the Digital Fish Library, we hope to develop a tool that stimulates students to think independently and naturally leads them into questions that they might want to investigate,” Frank said. “We hope to design an educational model that spurs students’ interests and teaches them how to conduct research. It’s not just teaching them about fish anatomy or physiology, it’s teaching them about magnetic resonance imaging, computation and visualization.”
Education modules within the Digital Dissection Tool will cover the basics of MRI, digital image processing of 3-D MRI data as well as aspects of marine biology. Under the guidance of co-investigator Cheryl Peach, Ph.D., of the Birch Aquarium–an expert in science education–elements of the project also will be incorporated into UCSD’s Academic Connections Program, an intensive, three-week summer learning experience for college-bound high school students.
This is a project with $2.5M in funding from NSF for 5 years. From the article, there seems to be at least one biologist in the fish collection at Scripps, one MRI imaging specialist, one MRI engineer, then one or more people at the Birch Aquarium. These folks live in the La Jolla area of southern California, a region with a completely ridiculous high cost of living. And they are producing custom MRI hardware, not an inexpensive thing to do. And producing software tools for education. This looks to be a tremendous bargain for $500K/year of funding. I’d be surprised if the NSF funding actually covered half of the actual costs involved in this project. You know, William Proxmire made a name for himself by heaping ridicule on things he thought were unworthy of spending taxpayer money on. I’d like to note here that we, the taxpayers, are getting way more than our money’s worth on this one.