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Among the many significant gifts the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation has made to OSU was a 1991 challenge grant to establish the Marine Mammal Research Professorship. Thanks to this gift, OSU researchers have gained a degree of financial stability for their groundbreaking work with whales, dolphins, seals, and other marine mammals.
The Valley Foundation grant originally took the form of an outright gift of $200,000 to make funds immediately available, plus a $1.6 million challenge grant, pledging to give $1 for every $2 other donors give through December 31, 2000.
Once the endowment reaches its $7.2 million goal, earnings are expected to generate at least $300,000 each year for marine mammal research. It will also make OSU the first university in the nation with a fully endowed marine mammal research program.
When the endowment is complete, the interest earned will support three separate areas of the marine mammal program. Fellowships will be supported by $1.2 million of the endowment, providing for master's or Ph.D. students' tuition, travel, and support (such as attendance at scientific meetings). Interest earned on an additional $3.68 million will be used for research equipment expenditures, including tags, satellites, vessel charters, and unsupported research project costs. Lastly, leadership salaries and costs, a research assistant, office staff, services, and supplies will be paid for with earnings from the remaining $2.32 million.
The majority of other donations to the marine mammal program have come from individual contributors. Many of these donors have participated in one of Professor Bruce Mate's naturalist trips, which allow them to gain a first-hand appreciation for whales and their habitat.
Professor Bruce Mate is best known for tracking whales via radio signals, beamed off satellites by lightweight radio transmitters he attaches to the animals' backs.
From his laboratory at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, Dr. Mate tracks the movements of bowhead whales, manatees, gray whales, blue whales, humpback whales, right whales, bottlenose dolphins, and pilot whales. The radio tags relay information on dive duration, water temperature, and dive depth and locations. This information is used to determine critical habitats for feeding, calving, breeding, and migration. His current research emphasizes marine mammal activity in Arctic to subtropical waters in the Northern Hemisphere.
Dr. Mate's research focuses on behavior (mating, feeding and migration), seasonal movements, navigation, and critical habitat assessment. Additionally, he is interested in diving physiology, energetics, and marine mammal competition with fisheries and aquaculture. His work has been featured on the Discovery Channel, ABC, the BBC, and the "The New Explorers" series on PBS.
Dr. Mate obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon in 1973 and has been a professor of fisheries and wildlife at OSU since 1972. He is Director of the endowed Marine Mammal Research Program.