MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


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 FY 1996 the National Office of Sea Grant awarded MIT $2.53 million. MIT, industry partners, the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and other federal and non-federal agencies provided more than $2.7 million. In all, these funds provided partial support for 22 faculty members, nine post-doctoral fellows and 40 students from the departments of Chemical, Civil and Environmental, Ocean, and Mechanical Engineering and Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and Sloan School of Management (as well as partial support for faculty and students at UMASS/Amherst, UMASS/Boston, UMASS/Lowell, Brandeis University, Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), University of Washington and University of California).

A substantial portion of the $2.7 million is represented by the first 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 and the University of California at San Diego (Scripps Institute of Oceanography).


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 area 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, continues to be 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 the advancement of technology that can contribute to better use of the biological resources of ocean and coastal ecosystems. Recent and ongoing research has included studies of the development of novel delivery systems for the vaccination of farmed fish (Professor Robert Langer and Dr. Yonathan Zohar, Visiting Scientist, 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 advance the science and engineering needed to more effectively utilize our coastal and ocean resources. Projects included studies aimed at discussing the 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 rapid maneuvering of autonomous underwater vehicles through vorticity control (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 the development of a versatile chemical sensor that can operate aboard a small AUV (Professor Harold F. Hemond, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering). Research also includes the application of vibration theory to suppress vibration and drag in cables and tethers (Professor J. Kim Vandiver, MIT Department of Ocean Engineering).

Work on underwater systems is carried out under Coastal Management and Utilization. Unique in its status as a research laboratory within a Sea Grant program, the MIT Sea Grant Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) Laboratory is the center of much of MIT Sea Grant's AUV research and development. Its 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. Major events for the AUV Laboratory this past year included studies of benthic habitats on Stellwagen Bank using recorded camera video. Work completed at the beginning of this year over the Juan de Fuca Ridge established records for survey mission time (3.5 hours) and depth (1,400 meters). Recent field trials in Buzzards Bay concentrated on establishing the performance of three different docking mechanisms, which allow an AUV to automatically dock at a fixed mooring platform. 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 Research Engineers, Thomas R. Consi, John J. Leonard and James W. Bales. Research on biomimicry investigates the olfactory behavior of lobsters. This work is done by Consi in collaboration with Professor Jelle Atema of Boston University. The AUV Laboratory also investigates the scientific and manufacturing aspects of underwater optical communication between multiple vehicles - this work is directed by Bales. The laboratory supported six postdoctoral fellows and seven graduate students.

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. This past year began with three projects still active. One of these, Coastal Water Quality, formed in 1989 and overseen by Dr. E. Eric Adams, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has since completed its final year. This project has been sponsored by MIT, MIT Sea Grant, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The other two projects concerned the development and application of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and are both overseen by Professor Schmidt and Dr. Bellingham. AUV: Basic Technologies is now in its final year. AUV: Scientific and Industrial Applications will complete its six year research program next year. These last two Marine Centers have been sponsored by MIT (Vice President for Research, the Ocean Engineering Department and the Bantrell Fellowship), MIT Sea Grant, Charles Stark Draper Laboratories, ONR, NSF, the French Institute for Research and Sea Exploration, and the Department of the Navy. Additional funding sources for support of the AUV Marine Centers and/or the AUV Laboratory include Florida Atlantic University, NASA, National Undersea Research Program, RD Instruments, Lockheed Martin, and the Henry L and Grace Doherty Professorship.

In our solicitation of new research proposals last year, we opened the competition up for additional focused research that would lead to new Marine Centers. A proposal submitted by a team led by Dr. Adams as Principal Investigator, Behavior of Capped Sediments, was successful in the peer review process and has been included in our current Omnibus Proposal to the National Office of Sea Grant and approved.


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 $65,000, which includes $35,000 from NSF. Twenty-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 1996 award was given to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science student Jamie Cho for his work involving underwater chemical sensing and chemically-mediated guidance of an autonomous vehicle.

MIT Sea Grant's eighth John A. Knauss Sea Grant Policy Fellow is Samantha Woods, who this past year completed the Masters of Science degree program at UMASS/Boston, with a major in Environmental Science/Marine Ecology. Woods is currently working for NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service in the Office of Research and Environmental Information.

We were successful this past year in submitting a proposal for the Sea Grant Industrial Fellows Program, Operational Optimization of an Ocean-Based Aquaculture Facility. Neil Best, a candidate for the Master of Engineering in Marine

Environmental Systems here at MIT, will be the Ocean Spar Technologies/Sea Grant Industrial Fellow for this program.

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 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. 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.

During the past year, under the direction of Richard Morris, the Collegium has concentrated on developing a stronger focus on areas of increasing interest. A series of meetings over the past twelve months involving participants with a broad set of interests in aquaculture resulted in an important conference this past spring. This conference, A Seminar for the Financial Community: Understanding Aquaculture Locally and Globally, recognized the need to begin an educational process for the financial community here in the Northeast. In so doing, it serves as a preliminary step in a series of Collegium events with a more structured business orientation. Participation was very high and subsequent discussions indicate the value of this conference format.

Extensive effort has gone into the Collegium events planned for the coming year. In September, an international conference on welding technology will serve to honor Professor Koichi Masubuchi, who will retire after a long and distinguished career in the Ocean Engineering Department at MIT. Plans to hold a symposium on electronic integrated navigation systems and technology revealed the need to involve the relevant government agencies in a more broadly focused set of issues. This symposium will be held later this year. Plans have also been developed for a conference on marine sensors and for continuing the series on AUV development and applications.

MIT Sea Grant's engineering focus in marine fisheries continues with the Center for Fisheries Engineering Research (CFER). This project was initiated in 1982 and today continues to have a national impact by applying analysis and model-testing techniques to the hardware-related problems associated with marine living resource utilization. The project has assisted industry in the development of resource-sparing and selective trawl nets. Current work by CFER director Cliff Goudey includes the development and demonstration of gear and techniques to reduce the mortalities of marine mammals in the Atlantic tuna fisheries. In addition, he has initiated a project with Saltonstall-Kennedy funds to develop trawl nets with less wasteful by-catch and reduced bottom impact.

MIT Sea Grant's involvement in marine aquaculture is focusing on two important areas: the development of hardware for offshore fish farming and land-based recirculating operations. Sea Grant enhancement funds ($80k) were secured to establish a National Engineering Test Center for Offshore Mariculture. With industry collaboration the engineering techniques used in fishing gear are being applied to the sustainable production of seafood in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This funding has also provided for the first aquaculture site in the EEZ, currently located south of Martha's Vineyard, for the growing of sea scallops. We have also established the first, prototypical aquaculture site in Boston Harbor, at the Charlestown Navy Yard. This facility will be used for research and public education on the culture of finfish in an urban environment.

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 continued to track the social impact of new fisheries regulations and has planned focus groups for Gloucester and New Bedford to assess their effects. Christine James, under the direction of Hall-Arber, has been effective in linking with state agencies and sportsmen's clubs to educate them on zebra mussels. She also developed a summer camp program to introduce youngsters to hands-on science through zebra mussel and other exotic species-watch activities. Hall-Arber is President-elect of the American Fisheries Society's Subcommittee on Socio-economics and a member of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Committee on Economics and Social Sciences. In addition to these posts, Hall Arber serves on the advisory board of the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Program, is a member of 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 and articles in Commercial Fisheries News.

The Sea Grant Communications/Information Service produces outreach materials for a wide variety of consumers. In 1995-1996 the Communications/Information Service published 23 technical reports and brochures. The Quarterly Report newsletter (circulation 2,000) is scheduled to be replaced with a joint publication in collaboration with WHOI Sea Grant.

Communications continues to write the Nor'easter magazine (circ. 12,000), along with other Sea Grant programs in the Northeast region. Working with the press and the MIT News Office resulted in stories in TechTalk, the MIT Research Digest, the Boston Herald, Fish Farming News, USA Today, and other news media, as well as national and international trade journals. Staff members were involved in several innovative outreach projects: assisting in the establishment of a small aquaculture facility at Re-Vision House, a group home for pregnant and parenting teens; organizing and sponsoring a Charles River Clean-up day, which is slated to become a regular event; teaching make-your-own-home-page WebShops to marine education, business and service professionals, locally and nationally; and producing an educational Live from Haro Strait Web site aimed at K-12, which is tracking the MIT Sea Grant AUV Lab's field experiment off the coast of Vancouver.

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 during the past year included the first two workshops in a three-workshop sequence focused on sources of pollutants, modeling, and problems related to meeting water quality criteria in coastal and estuarine water. In October a workshop entitled Measuring Mystic River Water Quality, involved field work in which various commercial techniques were employed to acquire appropriate data. This was followed in January with a workshop, Use of Models for Environmental Assessment, to describe the transport, fate and effects of a pollutant (in this case nitrogen) in coastal ecosystems.

These courses featured researchers from MIT, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of Massachusetts and other academic institutions, attracting scientists, students and those involved in managing coastal resources from all New England states. Other activities include sponsoring or co-sponsoring workshops where Sea Grant -funded researchers and others presented findings regarding introduced species, factors in groundfisheries decline, and the impacts of contaminants on marine organisms.

During the past year, the New England Science Center was funded to develop an electronic atlas using an accessible Geographic Information System and data from Boston Harbor for use by teachers in grades 5-12. A 6-week training program introduced teachers to the World Wide Web, provided hands-on opportunities for them to become familiar with the information and encouraged them to identify ways to use the materials in their science curricula.


The program director is Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis, professor in the Department of Ocean Engineering. Associate directors for research are Professor Henrik Schmidt and Dr. E. Eric Adams. Richard Morris, who had been Manager, Industry and Federal Relations, was promoted to Executive Officer.

MIT Sea Grant administers the Doherty Professorship, endowed by the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Foundation. In 1996, Paul E. Laibinis, assistant professor of chemical engineering, was awarded the two-year chair for his proposal to study the preparation of organic barrier films that will impede metal corrosion in aqueous and saline environments. Heidi Nepf, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental 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 1995-96