Sea Grant College Program

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 30 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 nonfederal 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 FY2003 the National Office of Sea Grant awarded MIT over $2.5 million. Additionally MIT, industry partners, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and other federal agencies provided more than $1.8 million. In all, these funds provided partial support for faculty and students from MIT's Departments of Civil and Environmental, and Ocean Engineering, and the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, as well as partial support for faculty, staff and students at UMASS/Amherst, UMASS/Dartmouth, UMASS/Boston, UMASS/Lowell, Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, Temple University, Smith College, Tufts School of Medicine, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the New England Aquarium, and the Boston, Quincy, and Cohasset Public Schools.

Fiscal year 2003 has had a great impact on the program. In early May of this year we were

reviewed by a Program Assessment Team (PAT) selected by the National Office of Sea Grant.

This PAT review process is to be conducted on each of the programs every four years. In preparation for our review we developed a five-year strategic plan and an implementation plan that serve as the definition of what see as our role in the national program plans and specifically how we intend to achieve results.

Strategic Plan

Our current strategic plan contains goals and objectives reflecting regional, national and global issues of current and/or future concern. These clearly are global but because of our affiliation as part of the Department of Commerce they are viewed from a very national viewpoint and developed as a national agenda.

In developing a strategic agenda we position the program to: expand the contributions of the MIT Sea Grant Program (the program) in robotic instrumentation and system concepts; attract and develop the best people—faculty, students, and collegial associates—people with far better than average intelligence, curiosity and work ethic; prepare our program to respond to research opportunities from a strong competitive position; and to serve as the primary program for research direction in areas selected for their relevance to MIT's capabilities and interests.

The goals we hope to satisfy in formalizing a strategic planning process are to:

In developing our strategic plan we recognize the need to collaborate with other elements within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We value our collaborations with the National Science Foundation (NSF), the US Navy and its research labs, and elements within the Department of the Interior.

New Core Research Projects

Core Research projects have a two-year or shorter project schedule. In order to maintain consistency with the proposal solicitation and review structure they are here reviewed by grouping them into our traditional theme areas.

There were two new research projects begun in the past year that were traditionally classified as in our Marine Biotechnology theme area. These two as well as the others noted here are all two-year projects with a February 2005 completion date.

Dr. Tom Consi, Department of Ocean Engineering is the principal investigator for a project intending to study the factors influencing the formation and growth of blood vessels in humans and other animals with cardiovascular systems. This project, "Development of a Fish Tail System for Studying the Dynamics of Angiogenesis," with Professor Elazer Edelman, Cabot professor of health sciences and technology, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology as associate investigator, began in March of 2003 and will be completed in 2005.

Tissue Engineering of Fish Skin" is a new project that follows a recently completed project of the same title that had investigated the fabrication of artificial fish skin using tissue engineering techniques for application to marine vehicles. The current project begun in March of this year builds upon the success of the initial study and will address the actual fabrication of skin suitable for the exterior of an aquatic robot. Coprincipal investigators for this new research effort are Professor Robert Langer, Department of Chemical Engineering, and Michael Triantafyllou, Department of Ocean Engineering.

In our traditional Coastal Management and Utilization theme area three new research projects were begun in March of this year.

Ecology and Management of Exploited Horseshoe Crab Populations: Stage-structured Models, Isotopic and Molecular Genetic Approaches" under the direction of Professor Ivan Valiela of the Boston University Marine Program will define horseshoe crab population dynamics establishing geographical and ecological range information necessary for sustainable harvest.

Professor Philip Gschwend of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department continues his research in contaminated sediments in marine waters with a new proposal. "Assessing the Bioaccumulation of Toxic Organic Substances by Benthic Invertebrates from Contaminated Bed Sediments" will use polyethylene strips inserted into sediment beds as passive samplers for measuring the concentrations of PAHs, PCBs, and PCDDs driving bioaccumulation in beds experiencing bioturbation and/or irrigation.

Rates and Mechanisms of Mercury Methylation in Marine Coastal Sediments," submitted by Coprincipal investigators Professor David Shull, Department of Biology, Gordon College and Professor Janina Benoit, Chemistry Department, Wheaton College will investigate the influence of benthic organisms in stimulating the production of methyl mercury, a potent neurotoxin. This research will concentrate on Boston Harbor sediments.

Two new research projects were grouped in our third traditional theme area, Coupled Ocean Observation and Modeling.

System Integration and Advanced Capabilities for NEREUS, an Odyssey Compatible In-Situ Mass Spectrometer," proposed by Professor Harry Hemond of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department will develop and integrate the NEREUS (Novel, Efficient, Rapid Evaluation of Underwater Spectra) for application on the Odyssey-class AUV. This effort will include development and demonstration of necessary hardware and software, and appropriate system protocols to increase the sensitivity of the NEREUS device to certain trace compounds including nitrous oxide and hydrogen, possible DMS, carbon monoxide, low molecular weight fatty acids and alcohols.

Dr. Franz Hover, principal research engineer in Ocean Engineering is the principal investigator for a project, "Small Hovering Autonomous Vehicle," developing a new autonomous vehicle for applications in close or energetic waters. A vehicle of this type will allow for broad integrated sampling of marine waters as well as survey, inspection and mine counter measures by the military.

Lastly in what was our fourth traditional theme area, Technology Development, we have one new research project begun in March of 2002.

Professor Michael Triantafyllou and Dr. Franz Hover are the coprincipal investigators for a project that will investigate the suitability of podded propulsion technology for large vessels. "Robotic Platform with Podded Propulsors" will construct and test an autonomous robotic model of a ship with electric (podded) propulsion—a concept supporting much more flexible maneuvering and potentially a more efficient use of energy.

Ongoing Core Research Projects

A research project in the Marine Biotechnology theme area began in March of 2002. "Novel Biomaterials with Potential Antibacterial and Adhesive/Structural Properties from Ascidians (tunicates)," a two year research program, was submitted by Professor Manickam Sugumaran of University of Massachusetts at Boston. This project is in the second year of a two-year schedule.

Two research projects in the Coastal Management and Utilization theme area began in March of 2002. "Modeling Copper Complexation in Coastal Waters" submitted by Professor Bettina Voelker of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department is funded as a two-year project and "New Passive Samples (PEDs) for Assessing Bioaccumulation of Organic Substances from Contaminated Sediments and Overlying Seawater," led by Professor Philip Gschwend, also of CEE, was be funded for a single year and consequently is completed.

Two new research projects in the Technology Development and Management for Ocean Uses theme area began in March 2002. "A Lorentz Force Actuator for Skin Friction and Noise Reduction in Turbulent Flows Past AUVs," submitted by Professor George Karniadakis of Ocean Engineering, continues efforts to incorporate fundamental physics principles into solving flow and maneuvering limitations of manned and unmanned aquatic hull forms.

Dr. Milica Stojanovic, who joined the MIT Sea Grant College Program in February of 2002 as a principal research scientist, submitted a proposal to address another of the limitations of unmanned subsurface vehicles. "High Rate Communication Link for Video Transmission from Autonomous Underwater Vehicle" will focus on developing the messaging protocols of a network of subsurface and surface system elements for high data rate communication.

Completion of these two projects is scheduled for February 2004.

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Focused Research/Marine Center Projects

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. Focused research projects have a six-year duration with the initial years heavily supported by Sea Grant Program funds. By the end of these multi-year projects the funding is expected to come entirely from non-Sea Grant sources.

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. 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.

A Focused Research/Marine Center project nearing completion, "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.). Completion is scheduled for February of 2004.

In 1999 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." Professor Henrik Schmidt of the Ocean Engineering Department succeeded Jim Bellingham as principal investigator. This project is now in its fifth year with a completion date of February 2005.

Our most recent focused research project began in March of 2001. "Biomimetic Rigid-Hull Vehicle withFlapping Foils for Enhanced Agility in the Surf Zone and Cluttered Environments" was submitted by Professor Michael Triantafyllou and Professor Dick Yue of Ocean Engineering as the coprincipal investigator. The long-term goal of this research is to develop a new class of rigid-hull autonomous underwater vehicles, best adapted to environments that require continuous maneuvering. This project now in its second year will be completed in February 2007.

Education, Outreach, and Advisory Services

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.

Many of the recent UROPs were involved with various aspects of the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) program. A major thrust of this effort over the past two years involved studies and preliminary design of smaller, more miniaturized AUVs to serve the marine biology community. This work considered all aspects of these mobile platforms from integrated control systems to hydrodynamic issues. Also continuing work advanced the sophistication of the control system and laboratory support of the Odyssey class of the AUV.

The Massachusetts Maritime Academy's (MMA) Marine Education and Training Program has been an educational element of Sea Grant for more than 25 years. Its emphasis and focus are on serving the recreational boater, and fisherman with an emphasis on aquaculture for the commercial fisherman, though continuing to provide necessary courses for the commercial offshore fisherman.

The Marine Education Program has coordinated and participated in a number of aquaculture workshops and other training sessions in collaboration with the South Eastern Aquaculture Center (SEMAC), Barnstable County Extension Service, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Sea Grant Program and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. In January 2002, this Sea Grant supported training program offered its 80-hour training course to the Massachusetts Shellfish Officers Association with 26 participants. This specialized program, the only one of its kind in Massachusetts, was specifically designed to train shellfish officers. In the past five years the program has trained more than 110 of the Massachusetts Shellfish Wardens.

The goal of the Center for Fisheries Engineering Research (CFER), under the direction of Cliff Goudey, is to improve the economic viability and environmental sustainability of the fishing and aquaculture industries by providing assistance in the form of technical information and advice and by conducting and collaborating on research to develop improved methods and technology.

CFER has moved to the commercial trial phase of a project, supported by the Northeast Consortium, involving flexible trawling devices including soft trawl doors. In cooperation with the fishing industry and a local manufacturer of fabric products, CFER has demonstrated the potential of flexible hydrodynamic devices to control trawl shape. Initial work has focused on an annular foil designed to expand the circumference of the extension of the net, allowing improved and consistent size selectivity.

An additional project funded as a development project by the Northeast Consortium, Preliminary Evaluation of Stretch-Mesh Catch Controls, is to develop a method of reducing regulatory discards of cod. Field tests aboard the F/V Skimmer have provided data for designing a Stretch-Mesh of netting which will predictably increase its mesh size when a specified amount of fish have accumulated in the cod-end.

Other projects supported by the Northeast Consortium involve the use of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) to determine the consequences of fishing activity on fisheries habitats, and the identification of cod and haddock spawning habitat using passive acoustics. Fabrication of the first of these prototype underwater units is completed.

The principal goal of the Center for Marine Social Sciences (CMSS), under the leadership of Dr. Madeleine Hall-Arber, is to apply advances in the social sciences to help resolve marine-related issues and contribute to policy development. In particular, CMSS has been working toward helping the New England region improve fisheries management so that both the industry and fisheries-dependent communities reach a sustainable level.

For two ongoing projects, CMSS has partnered with local fishing industry organizations including Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Development Program and Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership, and has obtained outside funding.

The objective of the first, the New England Fishing Communities' Panels Project, is to develop a community-based process for gathering and assessing social science data relevant to the fishing industry. Six community-based panels are reviewing, adding to, and creating socioeconomic profiles for their communities. Equally important, the project is beginning to provide managers with information that will enable them to more accurately anticipate social impacts.

The second project is a Community Audit funded by the Department of Labor. Basically, it is a strategic planning effort to obtain information useful to policy makers, workforce and economic development practitioners and educators in fifteen communities of the North Shore region of Massachusetts. One of the specific goals of the project is to focus on local fishing communities to determine if we can match needs and services, identify new opportunities for employment and create a plan to assist employers and potential employees find a "good fit."

As part of the Community Audit project and under the auspices of MIT's UROP program, two students are getting some "hands-on" experience with survey design, creating original reports from census and other government-gathered statistics. They may also conduct interviews with various companies' human resource officers. As of October 2002, 1,600 surveys (10 percent of the 16,000 companies in the region) have been sent out, a web site and forum created, and sources for government statistics identified.

The Marine Communications/Information Service (MC/IS), managed by Andrea Cohen, develops guides, technical reports and proceedings, and reprints as the most in-depth means by which our research is communicated. While technical reports are of particular use to the scientific community and to state and federal agencies, our other publications target groups such as fishermen, children, and the general public.

In this past funding cycle, MC/IS published and/or distributed and archived Education at MIT Sea Grant, the MIT Sea Grant Program Report, Adopt-a Boat, Hitchhikers: A Guide to Exotic Species, New England's Fishing Communities, Marine Bioinvasions: Proceedings of the First National Conference and many other documents, including all technical reports.

MC/IS has redesigned our publications database for increased ease and speed in searching and ordering publications, placing popular publications such as The Publications Directory, the Citizen's Guide, and Do Dolphins Sleep? Questions and Answers About the Sea online. Work continues with the National Sea Grant Library to make all relevant new publications available online.

MC/IS has worked with the Mass Marine Educators in providing free materials to a state-wide conference of educators and with industry in promoting continuing education classes co-sponsored by MIT Sea Grant.

Two if by Sea, a joint MIT and WHOI Sea Grant newsletter, highlights the program's research, education and advisory activities. The publication also includes regional and national Sea Grant news, a list of publications, profiles of researchers, a question and answer section, a calendar, and a literature/arts section.

We have updated our subscriber list; this free publication now reaches over 3,300 subscribers. Recent stories highlighted novel research into detecting hurricanes, new technologies for deep-water archaeology, and our Adopt-a-Boat program. We produced a web version of the newsletter, with archives online. The publication received The People's Choice Award from the Sea Grant programs in 2001.

MC/IS has created a web version of our children's book, Do Dolphins Sleep? Questions and Answers About the Sea, and has started work on Sea Shots, a series of low-cost children's books about various marine-related issues. This will be a collaborative project with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Sea Grant Program.

The mission of the MITSG Center for Coastal Resources (CCR), under the direction of Dr. Judy Pederson, is to make scientific and technical information accessible to coastal stakeholders and the public with the long-term goal of understanding human impacts on marine ecosystems. The approach is to translate scientific information and conduct a variety of outreach activities in three general thematic areas: Marine Bioinvasions, Effects of Contaminants and Pollutants on Marine Ecosystems, and Regional Ecosystems and Habitats.

Outside funding support, collaborations, and in-kind services for projects are also measures of success. Support of the MITSG CCR's activities include: the Massport (recent ballast water workshop), MCZM (workshops), and the MBP (the Ascidian Workshop and proposed Rapid Assessment Survey). In addition, we have received support from several Sea Grant College Programs in support of the Third International Conference on Marine Bioinvasions and the MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) for one or more students each year. There are separate progress reports for projects supported by other sources of Sea Grant funding, but some activities, publications, and research are mentioned briefly in this report, as they are a significant part of my outreach efforts over the past year.

In addition, CCR has received support from several Sea Grant College Programs in support of the Third International Conference on Marine Bioinvasions and the MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) for one or more students each year.

Outreach activities also include educational programs. The Cambridge Morse Middle School abuts the Charles River, which is impacted by nonpoint sources of pollution. Sixth and seventh grade students will be participating in a yearlong effort to develop a database of bacterial contamination, nutrient levels, temperature and salinity measurements, and samples of biological organisms in the river. Dr. Pederson has advised on the curriculum development and will continue to monitor and provide advice throughout the year.

Some marine advisory activities are ongoing and part of a long-term effort. For example, the Marine Center on Capped Contaminated Sediments, the regional Ballast Water activities, and Rapid Assessment of Marine Bioinvasions are multiyear research and outreach programs.

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Program Management

The program director is Professor Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis of the Department of Ocean Engineering. Associate directors for research are Dr. E. Eric Adams and Dr. Milica Stojanovic, principal research scientist with the Sea Grant College Program. Richard Morris continues to serve as executive officer for the program. Timothy Downes continues as the program's administrative officer. Cliff Goudey is the marine advisory leader for the MIT Sea Grant College Program.

Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis
Henry L. and Grace Doherty Professor in Ocean Science and Engineering

More information on the Sea Grant Program can be found on the web at


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