Date of Award

Winter 2012

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Mimi Larsen Becker


Many reports have noted that a significant portion of coastal science that is funded to help society address resource management issues does not actually link to decisions. Here, I report on 13 case studies involving new tools and science to help diverse decision makers better protect coastal resources. My qualitative analysis indicates that the programs' efforts to better link science with decisions have had varied results: some encouraging and some less so. In contrast, all 13 project case studies clearly confirm that the funding programs could have done more to link science with decisions. These case studies, combined with this work's culminating study---a focus group involving 10 different funding programs---point to a series of specific recommendations that funders should consider. Most critically: 1) if solving problems is important, funders need to spend more money on better problem formulation, with an emphasis on involving more people outside of academia and the government sector; 2) if funders are interested in linking science to decisions, they need to allocate more resources to linking, which may involve less resources to science. By linking, I mean supporting activities related to problem formulation to enhance the relevancy of the science to intended users as well as communication of findings to enhance the societal awareness of any new knowledge produced. This dissertation concludes with 10 recommendations in all. While some of these recommendations have overlaps with previous studies and reports, some of them are unique---such as an emphasis on changing proposal review processes---and provide a new contribution to the important debate on how public dollars should be spent within science organizations charged with managing natural resources.