DURHAM — Diane Foster, professor of mechanical and ocean engineering at the University of New Hampshire, has taken the helm of the university’s School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering.

“I am honored and excited to serve and lead a tremendous interdisciplinary community of students, staff and faculty who are advancing the understanding of compelling scientific problems ranging from our global oceans to our coastal waters,” Foster said.

Established in 2013, SMSOE is UNH’s first “interdisciplinary school,” designed to address today’s highly complex ocean and coastal challenges through integrated graduate education, research and engagement. Combining traditional faculty and program strengths in oceanography, marine biology and ocean engineering with an emerging marine policy focus, SMSOE provides students with the scientific underpinnings of these disciplines while training them to contribute to and engage in scientifically informed policy and resource management.

“A leader on campus and in her field of coastal sediment transport, Diane brings a great combination of academic experience and commitment to research at both the undergraduate and graduate level,” Provost Wayne Jones said. “She was instrumental in our efforts to establish an undergraduate ocean engineering program and expand our ocean engineering research capacity with a major renovation and building expansion.”

UNH is in the top 10 of all institutions receiving marine-related funding from the National Science Foundation. Currently, more than 70 faculty members teach marine and ocean engineering-related courses to 300 undergraduate and 100 graduate students.

SMSOE maintains three specialized facilities – the Judd Gregg Marine Research pier and laboratory in New Castle, Jackson Estuarine Laboratory in Durham, and the Chase Ocean Engineering Laboratory on the UNH campus. It also supports the Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island and oversees a fleet of research vessels.