MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


The MIT Sea Grant College Program provides funds for research, education, and technology transfer directed toward wise utilization of marine resources. MIT has been a leading participant in the national program since 1969. In 1976 the Institute was designated a Sea Grant College Program. Sea Grant College status offers the potential for greater funding and confers a responsibility to work with marine researchers throughout the Commonwealth.

Funds are distributed among the 29 Sea Grant Programs in a competing grant process by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through its National Office of Sea Grant. Each program is required to match every two dollars of its federal grant with one from non-federal sources. Congress established this matching provision to ensure that Sea Grant universities would be responsive to public and industry needs. Sea Grant provides funds explicitly for technology transfer through its mandate for advisory services and education in addition to its research mandate.

In fiscal year 2000 the National Office of Sea Grant awarded MIT $1.968 Million. MIT, industry partners, the Commonwealth, and other federal (most notably ONR) and non-federal agencies provided more than $4.5 Million. In all, these funds provided partial support for 15 faculty members, 10 post-doctoral and research fellows and 33 students from MIT's Departments of Chemical, Civil and Environmental, Ocean, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, and Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences; as well as partial support for faculty, staff and students at UMASS/Amherst, UMASS/Boston, UMASS/Lowell, Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the New England Aquarium, and the Universities of Rhode Island and Maryland.

A substantial portion of the $4.5 Million is represented by the fifth and final year portion of a five year $11.6 Million award from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). This award is intended to further the development of the Autonomous Oceanographic Sampling Network (AOSN) and will involve our Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Laboratory in collaboration with WHOI, the University of Washington, the University of California at San Diego (Scripps Institute of Oceanography) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). The second year of a two year $2.75 Million award from ONR for a new autonomous research vessel to be used in the Atlantic Layer Tracking Experiment (ALTEX) also contributed to this additional funding. The ALTEX project has a number of collaborators including WHOI, Florida Atlantic University, MBARI and a few commercial firms.


Research at MIT Sea Grant is guided by the unique intellectual resources of colleges and universities in the Commonwealth and by the needs of the marine community. Our research is divided into two categories. The first category is our core research program, which reflects the ongoing MIT Sea Grant management process and the guidance provided by our two advisory bodies: the State Advisory Council and the Faculty Committee. Within the core research area, we have four theme areas, with quite specific concentrations: Marine Biotechnology; Coastal Management and Utilization; Coupled Ocean Observation and Modeling; and Technology Development and Management for Ocean Uses. The second research category is our Focused Research, intended to address major regional and/or national issues or needs. Projects under focused research are also called Marine Center projects. In addition, Automation in the Manufacture of Marine Systems, now supported entirely from sources outside Sea Grant, continues to be one of Sea Grant’s strongest activities. We continue to build upon advances made in these areas. In addition, MIT Sea Grant has successfully competed for and been awarded additional grants in these and several other areas.

Sea Grant’s research objective in Marine Biotechnology is the advancement of technology that can contribute to better use of the biological resources of ocean and coastal ecosystems. Recently completed research has included studies of novel delivery systems for the vaccination of farmed fish and novel and potentially important research in seaweed as a source of compounds having commercial potential in food processing and pharmaceuticals. Three research projects, begun in March of 1998, were completed in February of this year. Professor Ralph Mitchell, Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Biology at Harvard University, completed his research on environmentally acceptable methods of antifouling based on the activity of metabolites from marine microorganisms, Development of Novel Environmentally Acceptable Marine Antifouling Coatings Based on Microbial Metabolites. Professor Don Cheney, Northeastern University, completed his research activities in nori aquaculture, Effect of Nori Aquaculture on the Marine Flora of Cobscook Bay and Selected Sites within the Gulf of Maine, which was done as a component of a Non-indigenous Species grant with investigators from the Universities of New Hampshire and Maine. Thirdly, Professor Herb Hultin of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst completed his research into uses of traditionally little used fish species with his project, Overcoming Problems in Producing High Quality Functional Proteins from Small Pelagic Fish.

On-going research in this thematic concentration included a project begun in March of last year–Tissue Engineered Fish Skin–lead by Professor Robert Langer of the Chemical Engineering Department here at MIT with Professor Michael Triantafyllou of the Ocean Engineering Department as co-principal investigator. The objective of this research is to examine the feasibility of developing an artificial version of fish skin using tissue-engineering techniques. This research, continuing into its second year, builds upon successful developments in human skin replacement using polymer chemistry technology to provide a support structure for dermal fibroplasts. These techniques, already approved for human use, could provide for breakthroughs in surface coverings for a new class of aquatic robots. This project is scheduled for completion in February of 2001. The inclusion of Professor Triantafyllou in the research project recognizes the coupling of Langer’s objectives and methodology with that of Triantafyllou’s companion project to be discussed under the Technology Development and Management for Ocean Uses theme area–Biomimetic Hull and Actuators for Fast-maneuvering Vehicles–that includes Professor Langer as co-principal investigator

Our solicitation for new proposals last year resulted in a new research project in Marine Biotechnology–Production of High Value Food Proteins from Low Value Underutilized Fish–submitted by Professor Herb Hultin of UMASS/Amherst. A recent process to produce fish protein isolates free of most insoluble components such as oil, membranes, skin, bones, and low molecular weight soluble impurities has been proposed based on the solubility of fish muscle proteins. This new project examines the problem caused by proteins of the fish tissues used that may not be easily separable from the desired proteins. These include the heme proteins and proteolytic enzymes. Due to density considerations, some insoluble pigment components are also difficult to remove. This project is a regional research project in that it involves supporting research by Professor Tyre Lanier of North Carolina State University and Professor Jae Park of Oregon State University, both funded by their respective Sea Grant programs.

Research projects within the Coastal Management and Utilization theme area seek to advance the science and engineering needed to more effectively utilize our coastal and ocean resources and, either as an integral component or separately, increases our understanding of the marine ecosystem and our ability to influence its sustainability.

Professor Ole Madsen, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, completed his research into the effects of seawalls on coastal sediment transport–Effect of Sea Walls on Longshore Currents. Professor Ivan Valiela of Boston University along with Professor Harry Hemond, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, completed their two-year study, Denitrification and Nitrogen Attenuation in the Aquifer of an Estuarine Watershed. Professor Joseph Montoya, Harvard University, had been awarded a one-year grant, A Preliminary Stable Isotope Tracer Study of Sewage Nitrogen Inputs to Massachusetts Bay that investigated the use of stable isotopes as tracers of sewage nitrogen as distinct from marine nitrogen within the Massachusetts Bay ecosystem. Montoya followed this work with a successful proposal to continue his research with a two-year grant beginning in March 1997. Professor Montoya has since left Harvard to accept a faculty position with Georgia Technical Institute effective for the fall semester of 1998. Harvard requested the substitution of Professor James McCarthy as PI through to the completion of the project. Subsequent to this change in project leadership Harvard had requested an extension to January 2000 and had also revised their budget downwards reflecting their having found additional funding sources. This project is completed.

Continuing into its second year is a research effort lead by Professor Philip Gschwend, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT–Sediment Quality Criteria (SQCs) for Policyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs): Accounting for Pyrogenic Sources. The primary objective in this research is to investigate how the effects of combustion-derived soot can be incorporated into predicting the exposures of marine benthic organisms to these toxic substances.

Our solicitation for new research to begin March of 2000 resulted in two projects in Coastal Management and Utilization. Combined Wave-Current Flows Over a Movable Rippled Bed–lead by Professor Ole Madsen of the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT–attempts to extend the completed research into combined flows over fixed, artificial rippled beds to the more realistic case of beds consisting of movable sediments. These ripples, more closely representative of actual conditions, have the potential to change bottom geometry and hence flow resistance in response to the nature of the flow.

The second successful proposal in this theme area, Quantitative PCR Combined with Constant Denaturant Capillary Electrophoresis for the Analysis of Naturally Occurring Pathogens in Coastal Environments–with Professor Martin Polz of the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT as the Principal Investigator–intends to develop and apply molecular techniques that allow the quantification of diversity and abundance of pathogenic vibrios in marine environmental samples. This work is of great benefit in that the ability to quantify pathogenic organisms in the environment will aid in understanding patterns of transmission.

Our annual call (issued in February of each year) for new research and outreach proposals to begin in March of 1999 included a new theme area, Coupled Ocean Observation and Modeling, as the newest theme area in our core program. Now in its second and final year, Integrated Mapping and Navigation for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, led by John Leonard, Associate Professor of Ocean Engineering, MIT, illustrates the tight coupling of this new theme area with the traditional activities of the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) program at MIT. The objective of the proposed research is to develop an algorithm for integrated mapping and navigation (IMAN) for AUVs and to verify its performance with real data. The ultimate aim of integrated mapping and navigation is to enable AUVs to build and maintain feature-based maps of the ocean environment from sonar data and to use these maps to navigate for long duration missions over large areas of the ocean.

In our solicitation for new research to begin in March of this year there were two additions in the Coupled Ocean Observation and Modeling theme area. Acoustic Sensing of Sediment Properties Using a WWW-Controlled Shallow Water Mooring led by Professor Henrik Schmidt of the Ocean Engineering Dept. at MIT combines the Poseidon distributed oceanographic information system (refer to the Focused Research/Marine Centers section for a description of Poseidon) with a new instrumentation mooring for littoral environments to provide a unique facility for remote small-scale sensing capabilities for sediment characterization. The second successful proposal in this thematic area represents an interesting melding of two separate activities–one being the continuing development of AUV technology and its applications; the other being the relatively new efforts to incorporate what we have developed into an Autonomous Surface Craft (ASC) for similar ocean related work. This proposal–Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Navigation and Control Using an Autonomous Surface Craft–originally proposed and led by Dr. James Bellingham, Principal Research Engineer and Manager of the MIT AUV Laboratory, will utilize the RF communication capabilities of a surface platform (in this case the ASC) and acoustic communication techniques to further the mission capabilities of the subsurface instrumentation.

Current efforts continue to focus on developing the key technologies for Autonomous Ocean Sampling Networks (AOSN). The MIT Sea Grant AUV Lab, sponsored by ONR and, in part, by NOAA through the Sea Grant College Program, leads this multi-university research effort. The goal is to further our ability to carry out real-time oceanography over the long term, through the synergistic combination of AUVs, moorings, gliders, and satellites. Collaborators have included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Institute of Ocean Sciences (Sidney, BC), Harvard University, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of Washington Applied Physics Lab, the Smithsonian Institution, MBARI and National Geographic Society. Professor Henrik Schmidt, MIT Department of Ocean Engineering, oversees this research area as Associate Director for Research. During the past year the day to day management and technical direction of the AUV team has passed from Jim Bellingham (Principal Research Engineer and AUV Lab Manager) to Justin Manley (Research Engineer) and continues with support from a number of Research Engineers, Visiting Engineers and Scientists, several Post-Doctoral Associates, Research Fellows, Research Specialists, and graduate students, as well as undergraduate students.

Lastly is a theme area we have traditionally included in our proposal solicitation that is deliberately broad in focus and title–Technology Development and Management for Ocean Uses. This theme area is meant to serve as an avenue for new and exciting ideas, and has, on occasion, yielded successful proposals that have evolved into continuing research theme areas. Our solicitation for new research to begin on March 1, 1997 did indeed result in a successful proposal in this theme area. This research, Development of Particle Tracking Equipment for Flow Visualization Around Live, Unrestrained Fish, led by Professor Michael Triantafyllou as Principal Investigator with Dr. Thomas Consi as Associate Investigator, both of the Department of Ocean Engineering, was completed in February of 1999. This work followed a previous Sea Grant project that provided valuable insight as to how fish are able to display accelerations and sustained velocities that seem impossible from the viewpoints of available energy and conventional understanding of locomotion processes. Later research focused on better visualization and analysis of the flow of fluid through which live, unrestrained fish swim. This required development of sophisticated instrumentation and software to allow individual water particles to be illuminated and their motions precisely measured in space and time. The objective of this research was twofold: to better understand the mechanisms fish employ in their natural habitat is important to our appreciation of them as a species; secondly is the benefit to be gained in applying this knowledge to man-made vehicles to make better use of energy. Although this had been reported in last year’s research summary it is referred to again because of the sound basis it has provided for current funded research projects and even more provocative potential research involving fish physiology. Reference should be drawn to the research being led by Professors Langer and Triantafyllou reported on elsewhere in this report.

Our solicitation for new research to begin on March 1, 1998 resulted in two successful proposals (both of which have completed their second and final year) in this theme area: Computational Analysis of In-Situ Holograms of Marine Micro-organisms, led by Professor Jerome Milgram, Department of Ocean Engineering, and Submerged Coastal Offshore Mussel Aquaculture System: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach, led by Dr. Walter Paul, Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Professor Mailgram continued his research on marine application of holography where the emphasis is on computational modeling, code development and numerical testing. The first two technical utilizations will be for three-dimensional particle image velocimetry for complete measurement of flow fields, and for studying the interaction of marine microorganisms, largely plankton, with their fluid environment.

The proposal from Dr. Paul deserves particular note in that it satisfies the definitions of a "regional proposal" –a concept encouraged and specifically supported by the National Office. The intent of the regional concept is to provide an incentive for more than one program to collaborate on an issue or problem of regional importance (often with significance to other regions around the nation). Dr. Paul’s proposal involves both marine biology and marine policy to compliment his emphasis on the physical oceanography and engineering aspects of offshore mussel aquaculture. We are funding Dr. Paul's portion, WHOI is funding the marine policy portion and the Commonwealth is funding the biology portion.

In response to our solicitation for projects to begin in March of 1999 a proposal submitted by Professors Michael Triantafyllou of the Ocean Engineering Department and Professor Robert Langer of the Chemical Engineering Department–Biomimetic Hull and Actuators for Fast-Maneuvering Vehicle–received favorable reviews and was included in the Omnibus Proposal sent to the National Office in November of 1998. This project will develop and test novel muscle-like actuators first using motors and then shape memory alloys. It will then develop a synthetic skin structure with installed flow sensors on the hull of a robotic vehicle, the Robotuna, and study the use of such a biomimetic skin for use with a flexible hull form.


The objective of the Focused Research/Marine Center concept is to plan and conduct research programs in collaboration with, and jointly sponsored by, industry and government agencies in order to attack major problems of broad interest to the marine community, and to foster industrial competitiveness by transferring the resulting technology to users.

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles: Basic Technologies, our second Focused Research project concluded in 1996. It served to develop robotic multi-use platforms, the Odyssey class of Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) for coastal as well as deep-ocean applications. Lessons learned from these vehicles have been incorporated into Odyssey II, which was built under the third Focused Research Program project, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles: Scientific and Industrial Applications, completed in July of last year. This Focused Research Project had also been supported as a Tactical Research Project of the National Sea Grant Office, entitled Rapid Response to Seismic Activity on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. A recent Focused Research project, Development of Autonomous Surface Craft, resulted in a prototype and field studies conducted in local waters. We have decided that this research effort more appropriately belongs within the broader research focus of the AUV program where the field infrastructure better exploits its anticipated capabilities.

The Autonomous Surface Craft (ASC) has concentrated on establishing a useful function in coastal survey and exploration activities. These efforts have mostly been confined to hydrographic surveys. Laboratory developments and fieldwork have produced a prototype system adequate for actual survey trials. These have produced both hardware and software components that provide a solid basis for the next stage of activity. A new mission for the ASC has been added. This involves using our prototype as a mobile communications station for our AOSN project.

As a consequence of the success of the Focused Research Programs that addressed AUV technologies and applications we have been able to capture additional funding. Today the AUV Laboratory is supported by ONR and others at an annual rate of more than $2.5 million. This illustrates the intent of our Focused Research theme area and further demonstrates how early funding of well thought out research areas can establish the soundness of more specific research and development objectives.

On August 1, 1996 the initial, first year work began on the fourth Focused Research/Marine Center, Behavior of Capped Contaminated Sediments, under the leadership of Senior Research Engineer and Lecturer, Dr. E. Eric Adams of MIT. This research is intended to address theoretical analysis and field studies to determine the processes occurring in a capped contaminated sediment site. It follows a recently completed Focused Research Marine Center, Contaminated Sediments in Boston Harbor, led by former MIT Professor Keith Stolzenbach. A full history, results, and recommendations are now available in an MIT Sea Grant publication by the same title. This work will allow a fuller understanding of the site selection criteria, transport processes of contaminated material through the capping material and further aid in predicting benthic impacts. The University of Massachusetts/Boston and the School of Public Health, Harvard University are collaborators on this project.

A more recent Focused Research/Marine Center, Poseidon: A Coastal Zone Management System via the World Wide Web, initiated work in March of 1998. This project is a consequence of the high availability of raw ocean data, the various modeling approaches one can apply to large, multi-parameter data sets, and extensive uses such data-derived knowledge make possible (weather forecasting, fisheries management, environmental impacts, etc.). We have presented the vision supporting this research, and the results as they evolve at the Collegium symposia and workshops recently. There is a growing interest in this area as evidenced by the requests for more detailed information from our colleagues outside of MIT.

The following year we again included the opportunity for new Focused Research proposals in our program solicitation for new research and educational proposals. We received one such proposal, Distributed Observatories for the Coastal Environment (Jim Bellingham, MIT AUV Lab. Manager). This project received favorable peer reviews and was included in our recent Omnibus Proposal to the National Office. It too reflects the latest addition to our core research theme areas in that it is specifically oriented to the coastal regime and embodies an integrated approach to a real-time multi-disciplinary network for advanced study of a complex marine environment, in this case the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. This represents a unique opportunity to involve a network of advanced research tools such as the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, in-situ observation platforms and remote sensing methods in a two-way telemetry system for use by many, possibly unrelated, researchers. This project is now funded and activity began in March of 1999.


In the competition for new funded research as part of the 1999 National Strategic Initiative we were fortunate to receive favorable reviews for our proposal, MIT Sea Grant Technology Program in Sea Scallop Mariculture, with Professor Chrys Chryssostomidis and Cliff Goudey as co-principal investigators. The objectives of this program are to develop, refine and foster the commercialization of several innovative technologies needed by the Northeast sea scallop industry for its conversion to a sustainable, more economically viable industry. The technologies include improved harvesting systems for scallop seed and market-sized scallops, scallop bed monitoring, predator control and seed transport. This project enjoys significant collaboration with a number of experts and practitioners in the industry. The project began in March of this year and has an eighteen-month duration.

The proposal solicitation for National Strategic Initiatives during the current year (2000) yielded a number of interesting preliminary proposals, which were reviewed, and rank ordered by panels at the National Office of Sea Grant. Our program is very fortunate to have received funding for two of the proposals submitted: "Environmental Marine Biotechnology: Development of Oligonucleotide Gene Chips as Sensors for Diverse Marine Pathogens" with Professor Martin Polz of the Civil Engineering and Environmental Engineering Department at MIT and Professor Ee Lin Lim, formerly associated with MIT and Professor Polz, and now with Temple University; and "Environmental Marine Biotechnology: Mussel Plasma Histidine-rich Glycoprotein (HRG) - Biomarker, Key to Metal Transport, Novel Natural Product" submitted by Professor William Robinson, Professor Manickam Sugumaran and Professor Gordon Wallace all of UMASS/Boston.

Professor Polz’s proposed research will address the early detection and monitoring of pathogens in coastal ecosystems using DNA microarrays and sophisticated quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis for enumerating gene copy number as a proxy for cell abundance. The ultimate goal of this research is to establish a technology to permit assessment of global distribution as well as the local variation of a variety of pathogenic populations in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

The research proposed by the UMASS/ Boston team led by Professor Robinson proposes to establish a biomarker of metal exposure and toxicity. Prior research by this team has succeeded in isolating and purifying histidine-rich glycoprotein (HRG) from an invertebrate, the musselmytilus edulis. This protein has been shown to strongly bind to metals such as cadmium. This proposed research would involve advanced molecular/cellular biology and metal analytical techniques in the study. The team of three represents aquatic toxicology, molecular biology/protein biochemistry and inorganic geochemistry.


Sea Grant is committed to providing learning opportunities for students, professionals, and the public. Support for graduate students is included in almost every research project. In addition, the program continues to provide major support for marine-related Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) projects. Sea Grant UROP directly provided $25,000. A substantial contribution from the Department of Ocean Engineering and the MIT UROP itself raised this to a total of $50,000. Sixteen UROPs were supported this year representing five MIT departments.

Completed in February of this year was a one-year educational project proposed by Cliff Goudey as Principal Investigator assisted by Brandy Moran as Associate Investigator, both members of the MIT Sea Grant Advisory staff. Aquaculture Courses for Massachusetts High School Students recognizes the need to view aquaculture in terms of its potential for economic benefits and the support necessary from a well-informed citizenry. The specific objectives of this project were to focus on the educational needs of the general public and the methods best used to provide it. Course offerings aimed at high school students that actually exposed them to a prototype marine finfish recirculating system located on Boston Harbor coupled with the development of course materials is seen as the essential first level of involvement in this activity. As courses were to be developed and demonstrated they are made available to local high schools through the contacts obtained from the New England Board of Higher Education AQUA (the New England Aquaculture Educators Network) organizers and the Boston National Historic Park special events coordinator.

We again requested new educational proposals in our annual solicitation issued last year for projects to begin in March of 2000. The Quincy Public Schools submitted an excellent proposal–Develop and Implement Local Marine Curriculum for Quincy Public Schools–in collaboration with a commercial partner, Photography by Michelson, Inc., owned by Mr. Robert Michelson who our Program had supported with seed funding to develop and test a grade school classroom approach to marine science education. Michelson had established the efficacy of such an approach as evidenced by the strong endorsement his preliminary efforts enjoyed. The goals and objectives of the current project are: firstly to establish a clear and comprehensive awareness and understanding of the marine ecological environment for teachers and administrators; secondly to develop and field test course units; finally to establish a monitoring program that includes high school, middle and elementary students to continue their knowledge of marine life and the career paths that are available to well educated and prepared young men and women. This is a two-year program with considerable participation by teachers.

Every year the National Office of Sea Grant issues a solicitation for a program intended to fulfill its broad educational responsibilities and to strengthen ties between academia and industry–the Sea Grant Industry Fellowship. This program is available to graduate students who are pursuing research and development projects on topics of interest to a particular industry/company. A full partnership needs to be in place with a faculty advisor, the Sea Grant college or institute, the industry partner and, of course, the student. Professor Nicholas Patrikalakis as Principal Investigator, Douglas Webb, President of Webb Research Corp. and our Sea Grant program submitted a proposal to involve Ocean Engineering graduate student Robert Damus in a two year project, Sea Grant Industry Fellow: Communication Protocol and Technologies for Low-Power Untethered, Mobile Ocean Platforms. This proposal was successful and having begun in September of last year will run through August of 2001.


The MIT Sea Grant Marine Industry Collegium promotes the active transfer of marine research and technology through the sponsorship of workshops, the distribution of publications and research reports, and direct interaction with members. Since 1975, the Collegium has provided member organizations with the opportunity to attend several technical workshops and symposia per year. The Collegium program collaborates with Draper Laboratories and other campus organizations in sponsoring symposia and workshops.

A new program to encourage and fund cooperative research between commercial fishermen and ocean researchers has been started with an fiscal year 2000 appropriation to the Northeast Consortium funded through the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service with the assistance of New Hampshire’s Senator Judd Gregg. The Northeast Consortium is an informal association of collaborators with representation from Sea Grant member institutions in the Northeast (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine,) having a common goal of assisting the establishment of partnerships among stakeholders in the management of commercial fisheries in the Gulf of Maine. During the later half of FY2001 a solicitation will be issued for proposals to encourage the use of commercial fishing vessels in ocean research, monitoring and management, and to conduct research leading to the development of selective fishing gear.

The Center for Fisheries Engineering Research (CFER) has strengthened its role in regional fisheries and aquaculture through several important initiatives and capacity building. Since its establishment in 1982, CFER project director Cliff Goudey has varied the emphasis depending on the needs of the fishing industry. Early topics included vessel safety, fuel efficiency, and fishing gear selectivity. More recently bycatch reduction, ecosystem effects of fishing, stock enhancement, and aquaculture have become more important.

CFER has established a marine finfish hatchery on Boston Harbor aimed at species and recirculating technology research and outreach. Aquaculture specialist Brandy Moran, hired to manage the facility and develop educational programs, continues to provide an on-going demonstration facility in support of our broad educational goals and to serve as a small-scale example of a potentially viable commercial activity. CFER’s collaborations with the fishing industry include: developing a low-impact scallop dredge; demonstrating sea scallop enhancement techniques in a nine-square-mile EEZ site; and evaluating acoustic techniques for detecting the presence of right whales. As our part of a National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP) funded project we are involved in the development of a system for fisheries data telemetry from commercial fishing vessels. Ken Ekstrom, an electronics/software specialist, continues to assist in this NOPP-funded project.

Collaborative work with the Massachusetts Aquaculture Coordinator, Scott Soares, has successfully identified the regulatory environment for aquaculture permitting in the Commonwealth. This activity was supported by a two-year funded project–Aquaculture Permitting Guidelines for Massachusetts–completed in February of this year. Draft permitting guidelines have been developed and are under review. Their production is scheduled to occur shortly together with an interactive web site. Test-case identification awaits the finalization of the guidelines.

The Center for Marine Social Sciences (CMSS) is actively pursuing its goal of applying advances in social sciences to help resolve marine-related issues and to contribute to policy development. CMSS continues to work with state and federal agencies and the public to identify and address local and regional needs in fisheries and coastal zone management. Marine advisory agent Madeleine Hall-Arber continues to track the social impact of new fisheries regulations and is currently working on a project to study fishing-dependent communities in New England. Hall-Arber is vice-chair of the New England Fishery Management Council’s Social Science Advisory Committee, Social Science Editor for American Fisheries Society’s Fisheries journal and is an active member of both the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Committee on Economics and Social Sciences, and Women’s Fisheries Network. Public education efforts continue through exhibits, participation in conferences and festivals, maintenance of an active e-mail discussion list, and articles in Commercial Fisheries News.

A new web page for Women’s Fisheries Network is being developed with the participation of several of the members and the governing board. Traditional outreach continues as well with representation on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Winter Flounder and Herring Technical Committees, and the New England Fishery Management Council’s Overfishing Definitions Subcommittee. In addition, Hall-Arber frequently serves as an informal advisor to students and journalists on social science and fisheries issues, and oversees the use of the Zebra Mussel Mania Traveling Trunk.

Zebra mussels, an aquatic species that invaded North America in 1988, have caused serious economic and environmental problems. They are rapidly spreading beyond the Great Lakes region into many waterways in the Midwest, and even into the Northeast (zebra mussels have already been found in the Connecticut River and Lake Champlain). MIT Sea Grant is tuning kids into zebra mussels and other exotic species through a new and exciting teaching aid called the Zebra Mussel Mania Traveling Trunk. Developed by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and the Illinois River Project with input from fifth- and sixth-grade teachers who contributed to curriculum development and related activities, the trunk is filled with ten hands-on activities that provide educators with tools to teach about the full range of problems associated with zebra mussels and other nonindigenous species. Use of the trunk encourages students to inquire and discover. What makes the trunk even more effective is the integration of other subjects, including math, English, social studies, and the arts.

Through experiments, games, stories, and a host of other interesting activities, students are able to understand problems caused by nonindigenous species and can learn how to become involved in solutions to prevent the spread of these species through community action projects.

The MIT Sea Grant Communications/Information Service, under the leadership of Andrea Cohen, produces outreach materials for a wide variety of consumers. This includes the newsletter, Two if by Sea, published jointly by the MIT and WHOI Sea Grant Programs. Two if By Sea highlights the research, advisory and outreach activities of Sea Grant programs in the Commonwealth, and provides the public with information about coastal and marine issues in the region. Communications recently published a new Program Report, which describes the program and our current projects and areas of focus.

Communications redesigned the entire MIT Sea Grant web site, making it more useful and interactive. Users can now search our publications directory and Citizen’s Guide to Sources for Marine and Coastal Information in Massachusetts on-line. Communications produces and distributes all of the program's technical reports and distributes and archives all program publications. In the past year, we have received a significant number of publication requests on-line. We also provide information to schools, businesses, government, citizens, media, the MIT community and others on a wide range of marine-related topics. We maintain a reference center with journals and books, which is available to the community for informational purposes.

In September, Communications was awarded a grant from the regional Sea Grant programs to design and maintain a new regional Sea Grant site that features a new topic each month. That site has been chosen as a model for the four other regional Sea Grant sites.

This past year, Communications collaborated with the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and The Friends of Magazine Beach, a community group, in sponsoring the fifth Annual Clean-Up of Magazine Beach and the Banks of the Charles. This ongoing collaboration helped lead to an agreement between the MDC and the City of Cambridge, whereby the City has committed $1.5 million to renovate this area.

In collaboration with the New England Aquarium (NEAq), Communications co-sponsored the Third Annual World of Water Film Festival. Communications also collaborated with NEAq in organizing and leading a workshop in the Fourth Annual Environmental Writers' Conference.

Media relations have resulted in print, web and television coverage of MIT Sea Grant Projects in many venues, including: The Boston Globe, New England Cable News, ENN Radio Site, Earthwatch Radio, The Environmental News Network, PBS (Scientific American Frontiers), and National Fishermen.

In April, our communications specialist, Elisabeth Sylvan, took a research position at MIT; we are currently meeting our web needs through a freelance consultant. In May, administrative assistant Christine Cristo left the program; a temporary freelance assistant is now helping with publication efforts and other administrative tasks for advisory services.

The goal of the MITSG Center for Coastal Resources (MITSG CCR) is to serve as a link between scientific and technical research and information and the user community, such as state and federal agencies, local government, non-government organizations and citizens. The MITSG CCR provides outreach and educational activities in three general areas; water and sediment quality, marine bioinvasions and biodiversity, and impacts of fishing on communities. Specific activities have included convening conferences, organizing 20 scientists and students to survey native and non-native organisms on fouling docks, and editing a Proceedings of the First National Conference on Marine Bioinvasions and a book entitled, The Decline of Fisheries Resources in New England: Evaluating the Impact of Overfishing, Contamination, and Habitat Degradation. The MITSG CCR maintains a web site ( that highlights research by the marine center on behavior of capped contaminated sediments, marine bioinvasions, and general linkages to other organizations, including those with data on water and sediment quality. Many of these projects are undertaken with state and federal agency support. Future activities include preparing a report on the recent Rapid Assessment Survey of Fouling Organisms on Floating Docks, convening a task force to prepare an Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan for Massachusetts, and summarizing the scientific and technical information from the Marine Center studies on the use of Confined Aquatic Disposal Cells.

The joint educational program established with the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) twenty years ago has grown in terms of the educational/training needs it addresses and in its participation. During the past year MMA continued to expand a series of seminars oriented towards their traditional constituency of recreational and commercial users of coastal waters. Recent offerings have begun to address aquaculture and fisheries issues.

MMA’s annual Saltwater Fishing Seminar is now in its 21st year and continues to draw large numbers of participants every year. Shellfish Farming Forum and Aquaculture Symposium events held this past winter drew considerable interest. Most recently the Massachusetts Shellfish Wardens Association requested the Sea Grant/MMA program to develop a training program for the more than 60 shellfish wardens in the Commonwealth to better prepare them for managing local town shellfish resources.


The program director is Professor Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis, Department Head, Ocean Engineering. Associate directors for research are Professor Henrik Schmidt and Dr. E. Eric Adams. Richard Morris continues to serve as Executive Officer for the program. Timothy Downes continues as the program’s Administrative Officer.

MIT Sea Grant administers the Doherty Professorship endowed by the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Foundation. In the last competition there were two outstanding nominees for consideration so much so that both have been awarded the two-year Professorship. Assistant Professor Martin Polz of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department submitted a proposal–Quantitative Ecology of Harmful Microorganisms in coastal, Marine Environments–that addresses the need to improve our ability to detect and characterize the causes of marine related illnesses and harmful algal blooms before they are manifested in major outbreaks. His research will focus on the use of quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques for detection and quantification of microbial populations. This research project will concentrate the fieldwork in the New England waters.

The second Doherty Professorship was awarded to Professor Nicholas Makris of the Ocean Engineering Department. His proposal for the Doherty award–Monitoring Natural and Manmade Noise in Massachusetts Bay–will conduct a series of field experiments on Stellwagen Bank in high-resolution real-time spatial and temporal measurements of both natural and anthropogenic ocean noise. Stellwagen Bank is a National Marine Sanctuary with a variety of marine species. This research will attempt to distinguish populations of marine life in terms of species identification, abundance and behavior. It will also determine the impact of the manmade ocean noise on various marine life–in particular the mammals present on the Bank, and in many cases threatened with further population declines.

John J. Leonard, an Associate Professor of Ocean Engineering completed the second year of his Doherty Professorship. Professor Leonard’s research concerned the unique ability of certain animals, dolphins in particular, to combine controlled movement of the animal with their sonar capability to determine size and shape of objects of interest.

More information about the Sea Grant College Program can be found on the World Wide Web at

Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000