MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

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 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 that for research.

In FY 1995 the National Office of Sea Grant awarded MIT $2.26 million. MIT, industry partners, the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and other federal and non-federal agencies provided more than $2.5 million. In all, these funds provided partial support for about 20 faculty members, six post-doctoral fellows and 45 students from the departments of Chemical, Civil and Environmental, Ocean, and Mechanical Engineering and Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (as well as partial support for faculty and students at UMASS/Amherst, UMASS/Boston, Brandeis University, Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy).

In May MIT Sea Grant went through a recertification process -- a process intended to review the preceding 10 years of our institution's accomplishments. Most of a week was devoted to a comprehensive agenda covering all aspects of our program -- from overall research philosophy through specific research programs and their results to the broad area of advisory and educational service and programs.


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. First 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 two major theme areas, with quite specific concentrations: Marine Biotechnology and Coastal Management and Utilization. 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, continued as one of Sea Grant's strongest activities. We continue to build upon advances made in these areas.

Sea Grant's research objective in Marine Biotechnology is advancement of technology that can contribute to better use of the biological resources of ocean and coastal ecosystems. Recent and ongoing research included studying development of novel delivery systems for vaccination of farmed fish (Professor Robert Langer, MIT Department of Chemical Engineering), the relationship between vanadium and tunichrome in sea squirts (Professor William E. Robinson, University of Massachusetts), design of instrumentation for automated detection of plankton (Professor Sallie W. Chisholm, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering), and improvements in processing underutilized fish (Professor Herbert Hultin, University of Massachusetts). Professor Ralph Mitchell, Harvard University, continues to study zebra mussels, an invading species threatening inland water supplies and ecosystems.

Interdisciplinary Sea Grant investigations of Coastal Management and Utilization seek to describe and model currents in order to estimate the fate of sediments and chemical compounds in near-shore environments. Projects included studying effects of seawalls on coastal sediment transport (Professor Ole S. Madsen, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) and understanding biological and chemical transformations of mercury in sea water (Visiting Professor Francois M.M. Morel, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering), and sensor-based control for feature-relative navigation (Professor Michael S. Triantafyllou, MIT Department of Ocean Engineering). Another major project in this area -- Membrane Inlet Mass Spectrometry: A Universal Chemical Sensor for in situ and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Applications -- focuses on development of a versatile chemical sensor that can operate aboard a small AUV (Professor Harold F. Hemond, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering).

Work on underwater systems is carried out under Coastal Management and Utilization. The projects are aimed at making autonomous underwater systems useful tools for coastal and open ocean research and/or engineering programs. Investigations focus on intelligent control, navigation and application of autonomous vehicles to specific scientific missions. Unique in its status as a research laboratory within a Sea Grant program, the MIT Sea Grant Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) laboratory is the center of much of MIT Sea Grant's AUV research and development. Major events for the Underwater Vehicles Laboratory this year included extending AUV Odyssey II deployments to deep water (Juan de Fuca Ridge and Bermuda), 2-D and 3-D water column surveys (Juan de Fuca) and dual-vehicle operations (Florida). Professor Henrik Schmidt, MIT Department of Ocean Engineering, oversees this research area as associate director for research, and Principal Research Engineer James G. Bellingham directs the AUV Lab with support from Thomas R. Consi, John J. Leonard and James W. Bales. The laboratory supported six postdoctoral fellows and six graduate students. In the same theme area, Sea Grant-supported researchers are designing novel, efficient propulsors for unmanned underwater vehicles based on analysis of jets and vortices produced by fast-swimming fish (Professor Triantafyllou). Research also includes application of vibration theory to suppression of vibration and drag in cables and tethers (Professor J. Kim Vandiver, MIT Department of Ocean Engineering).

Focused research typically establishes a six-year set of interrelated projects initially funded exclusively by MIT Sea Grant. Projects must line up substantial co-funding from outside sources in years two through six. Three projects are funded this year. Coastal Water Quality -- formed in 1989 and overseen by Dr. E. Eric Adams, MIT Department of Civil and environmental Engineering -- in its final year concentrates on information and technology transfer. It has been sponsored by MIT, Sea Grant, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, NSF and the U.S. EPA. Autonomous Underwater Vehicles: Basic Technologies, and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles: Scientific and Industrial Applications, are overseen by Professor Schmidt and Dr. Bellingham. These last two Marine Centers have been sponsored by MIT, MIT Sea Grant, Charles Stark Draper Laboratories, Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, French Institute for Research and Sea Exploration, and the Department of the Navy.


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. Support from other departments (primarily Ocean Engineering) raised the total funding to $85,000, which includes $35,000 from NSF. Forty five UROPs were supported this year. Undergraduates from nine MIT departments were represented, including a student from the University of Oklahoma sponsored by MIT's minority-outreach.

The Dean A. Horn Award was established in 1982 to honor the contributions of a former Sea Grant director. The award is given to the marine-related UROP project that best reflects Mr. Horn's high regard for significant innovative marine research projects carried out with competence and reported with clarity. The 1994 award was given to Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences student Steven R. Jayne, for modeling Gulf Stream dynamics.

The interactive computer exhibits designed for the New England Aquarium's Boston Harbor Room continue receiving enthusiastic support. The two stations explain the Boston metropolitan sewage system and the Boston Harbor cleanup and teach people how to protect the Harbor. In addition, a computer program covering the same subject, but in greater depth, continues to be widely distributed to schools, where teachers integrate it into the curriculum. Translation of the program into Spanish, for bilingual classes, continues.

MIT Sea Grant's sixth and seventh John A. Knauss Sea Grant Policy Fellows are Eric Jay Dolin, who recently received a Ph.D. from MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and Justin LeBlanc, who earned an M.A. in biology at Harvard University in November. Dolin works in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Policy and Strategic Planning. LeBlanc serves in the Office of Senator Patty Murray, WA.


Sea Grant's legislation explicitly provides funds for technology transfer as an integral part of its program. Additionally, technology-transfer projects are designed to bring user needs to the attention of MIT Sea Grant researchers. Thus, technology exchange may better describe our efforts.

The MIT Sea Grant Marine Industry Collegium promotes active transfer of marine research and technology through sponsorship of workshops, 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. Of particular note is the involvement of the Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) membership in Collegium activities. ILP members are invited and have been enthusiastic participants in these events. Under manager Richard Morris, the past year's Collegium workshops included AUV Research: Challenges and Opportunities in the Coastal Environment, Water Quality in Massachusetts Bay (co-sponsored with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Sea Grant Program), and Contaminated Sediments in Boston Harbor (co-sponsored with the Coastal Water Quality Marine Center).

MIT Sea Grant's Center for Fisheries Engineering is recognized as an important national resource for technical studies of fishing gear and vessel design. Using tow tanks at MIT and at the David Taylor Model Basin in Bethesda, Md., the Center tests scale-model trawl systems and conducts courses for fishermen. Industry turns to the Center for testing and evaluation of trawl net designs and innovative aquaculture pen systems. The Center also assists the local fishing industry with technological problems in gear design, selectivity, and marine mammal interactions. In addition, fisheries engineer Clifford Goudey has been instrumental in developing technology to help remove noxious algae contaminating North Shore beaches.

The Massachusetts Marine Liaison Service (MMLS) works 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 is working on a social impact assessment of new fisheries regulations. Her study for the New England Fishery Management Council on the anticipated impacts of the regulations on fishing communities has been widely read in NOAA and in Congressional staff offices. MMLS is also working with the Metropolitan District Commission to teach boaters and industrial fresh-water users to minimize the impact of zebra mussels. Hall-Arber serves on the advisory board to the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Program, the New England Marine Advisory Council and is president of the Women's Fisheries Network. Public education efforts continue through exhibits, participation in conferences and festivals, articles in Commercial Fisheries News, and publication of the Citizen's Guide to Sources for Marine and Coastal Information. Hall-Arber is assisted by research specialist Christine James.

The Sea Grant Communications/Information Service, managed by Carolyn Levi, assisted by Information Specialist Kathy de Zengotita, produces outreach materials for a wide variety of consumers. In 1994-1995 Communications/

Information Service published 27 works, including a children's book about the marine world (written by Andrea Cohen, designed by Margaret Weigel), technical reports and brochures. Communications continues to write and publish a quarterly newsletter with a circulation of 2,000 (Quarterly Report), and continues its involvement in Nor'easter, a regional Sea Grant magazine (circ. 12,000). Working with the press and with the MIT News Office resulted in stories in Scientific American, Technology Review, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, WCVB-TV, CNN, and other news media, as well as national and international trade journals. Communications also contributes to the MIT Research Digest. The service also installed and updated exhibits about Sea Grant and participated in public events, including a celebration of the ocean at Boston National Historic Park's Charlestown Navy Yard.

Coastal Resources oversees MIT Sea Grant's continued support for faculty and students to apply new technology to marine and coastal problems in Massachusetts to public service. This effort is unique in that it allows faculty and students to work with coastal managers and other agencies, who would not normally have access to academic resources. 1994-95 projects involved pilot studies using chitosan in wastewater treatment. These projects provide additional support for faculty and their students.

A new addition to MIT Sea Grant, the Center for Coastal Resources brings science and technology research to state and federal agencies staff, local government officials and other entities. The Center helps improve decision making in management of coastal resources and strengthens policy development. Manager Judy Pederson's efforts begun this year include developing an in-service, professional training program to enhance marine and coastal monitoring by, but not limited to, state, federal and local agency professionals. In addition, a series of seminars and workshops are held on topical issues, such as exotic and introduced species, toxic substances, and coastal non-point-source issues, with emphasis on engineering and best management practices.


The program director is Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis, professor in the Department of Ocean Engineering. Associate directors for research are Professor Schmidt, Dr. Adams and Marcia K. McNutt, professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Norman Doelling, assistant director, of Sea Grant Advisory Services and Education retired this year after 20 years of service.

MIT Sea Grant administers the Doherty Professorship, endowed by the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Foundation. In 1995, Heidi Nepf, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, was awarded the two-year chair for her proposal to study the role marsh systems play in regulating the flux of land-source pollutants and nutrients to coastal waters. Frank Z. Feng, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering, holds the chair for a second year. Professor Chryssostomidis continues to serve as the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Professor of Ocean Science and Engineering.

Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95