The work of MASTS currently falls into four key areas of activity:
Research within MASTS is organised in hierarchical system of research instruments. The largest groupings are the major research themes. Within and between these research themes are research forums and below the forums are smaller, more focused projects.
MAST Research Organisation
The principle behind the MASTS research structure is to allow flexibility. New Forums and Community Projects may be promoted by groups of MASTS members. This flexible structure means that groups can evolve and may be dissolved when they are no longer relevant or active.
MASTS Research Themes
The MASTS research themes (MRT) are the largest and most inclusive groupings which reflect the Scottish Marine strategy and Scottish government objectives in promoting clean, healthy, diverse and productive seas.
Member of the MASTS community can belong to one or more of these groups and will receive relevant information and opportunities. Each MRT has an elected theme leader and budget to promote its activity. These themes are sufficiently broad that they should not need to change within the funded life of MASTS.
Research themes are formally constituted and the theme leaders are recognised as ex officio members of the MASTS Executive Committee.
MASTS Research Forums
Research forums are intended to be outward looking and to include all MASTS members who have an interest in those areas. Forums are the main delivery mechanism for MASTS science.
Although forums are associated with a research theme, they may cut across other themes. Forums can be established to address specific areas of research as they emerge but to receive funding and other MASTS support, they must be approved by the MASTS Executive Committee and operate within prescribed guidelines.
Each forum is led by a Convener.
MASTS Community Projects
In addition to the research forums it is possible for members of the MASTS community to establish community projects. These can represent smaller multi-institutional research groups with specific aims and objectives. Community projects will usually be allied to a specific forum, but these too may cut across themes as required.
The MASTS Research Agenda
The MASTS research agenda is driven by scientific excellence and contributes to the vision of the Scottish Marine Science Strategy for 'Clean, healthy, safe, productive, biologically diverse marine and coastal environments, managed to meet the long-term needs of people and nature'.
MASTS supports this high level strategy by promoting and delivering science and training of the highest standard to better understand marine systems and processes.
In addition, MASTS actively seeks to encourage productive dialogue and understanding between scientists, other marine experts and interested parties in all sectors, including those responsible for policy development and regulation.
Communications and Outreach
The wide dissemination of the research that the MASTS community conducts is pivotal to its long-term success. Maintaining a productive dialogue with government, educational, industrial and public bodies that deal with the marine environment is an important feature of MASTS work.
To support this, MASTS has an evolving communications strategy informed by its Communications Group committed to wider stakeholder and public engagement.
The scale of the MASTS consortium and its diversity of expertise ensure that we have the critical mass to deliver local and national outreach activities and major exhibitions.
To encourage a fluid exchange of expertise and greater understanding, MASTS is committed to facilitating placements and short secondments of scientists in key areas of government policy and regulation and commerce.
MASTS is also linked to other UK and international marine science communications initiatives through its association with the UK Marine Science Co-ordination Committee (MSCC) and its membership of the European Science Foundation Marine Board.