The National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s Science Collaborative is an important mechanism to support competitive, end user-focused research in the reserve system. The Science Collaborative funds user-driven collaborative research, assessment, and transfer activities that address critical coastal management needs identified by the reserves and has been managed by the University of Michigan (U-M) Water Center since 2015 through a cooperative agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
As part of its ongoing efforts to evaluate and adaptively manage the program, the Science Collaborative administered an interim program evaluation from fall 2017 through summer 2018, just over three-quarters of the way through U-M’s contract. The purpose of the evaluation was to assess the program’s impact and value, and to inform the program’s short- and long-term management. It sought to answer two overarching questions: 1) How have Science Collaborative program activities increased the capacity of project teams to support coastal management and decision making; and 2) What are the collective impacts of the Science Collaborative program under the management of the University of Michigan? To answer these questions, the Science Collaborative solicited the perspectives of five key participant groups – reserve staff, non-reserve applicants, advisory board members, panelists, and NOAA Office for Coastal Management staff – through an online survey and interviews. This report summarizes the feedback the program received from these participant groups.