MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


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 1997 the National Office of Sea Grant awarded MIT $3.86 million. MIT, industry partners, the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and other federal and non-federal agencies provided more than $3.2 million. In all, these funds provided partial support for 20 faculty members, nine post-doctoral and research fellows and 45 students from MIT's departments of Chemical, Civil and Environmental, Ocean, Mechanical Engineering and Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences; as well as partial support for faculty and students at UMASS/Amherst, UMASS/Boston, UMASS/Lowell, 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 $3.2 million is represented by the second 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. In addition, MIT has successfully competed for and been awarded special enhancement grants in several 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), and improvements in processing underutilized fish (Professor Herbert Hultin, University of Massachusetts). Professor Don Cheney, Northeastern University, Marine Science Center, continues his research into novel and potentially important research in seaweed. Cheney is investigating seaweed as a source of compounds that have commercial potential in food processing and pharmaceuticals, Novel Polysaccharide Production Through Seaweed Genetic Manipulation and Cell Culture Technology. Also of commercial interest is Cheney's work on developing a strain of nori--a food product of high importance throughout the world--that will adapt well to the colder waters of the northwest Atlantic Ocean. This project--Strain Improvement by Protoplast Fusion-Somatic Hybridization--will continue into 1998.

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. There are twelve active projects in this theme area--what follows are a few we have selected to highlight. An example is a project that involved studies aimed at understanding the effects of seawalls on coastal sediment transport (Professor Ole S. Madsen, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering). This project is scheduled to be completed in July of 1997. Professor Madsen began a related research project, Effect of Seawalls on Longshore Currents, in March of 1997. Continuing research focused on rapid maneuvering of autonomous underwater vehicles through vorticity control (Professor Michael S. Triantafyllou, MIT Department of Ocean Engineering). Professor Joseph Montoya, Harvard University, was awarded a one-year grant "A Preliminary Stable Isotope Tracer Study of Sewage Nitrogen Inputs to Massachusetts Bay", that investigated the use of stable isotope tracers to trace 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. A separate but related research project was also started in March by Professor Ivan Valiela of Boston University, Denitrification and Nitrogen Attenuation in the Aquifer of an Estuarine Watershed. This research will study the fate of organic matter as it undergoes transformation via physical, chemical and biological processes within the marine environment.

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 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 the application of autonomous vehicles to specific scientific missions. This past year included a tidal front mapping study at Haro Strait, BC, using two of the Odyssey IIb AUVs. The vehicles carried water quality sensors, a side-scan sonar, and a water-current profiler. Over a 35-day period, the two vehicles performed approximately 80 dives with no significant failures. In February, 1997, the AUV Lab went to New Zealand to take part in the 3-week long "giant squid expedition." Current efforts focus on developing the key technologies for Autonomous Ocean Sampling Networks. The MIT Sea Grant AUV Lab, sponsored by ONR, 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. During tests in June 1997 in Cape Cod Bay, an Odyssey AUV started 1km away from a dock. It then homed into the dock, was secured, and power was transferred into the AUV. 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, and National Geographic Society. Professor Henrik Schmidt, MIT Department of Ocean Engineering, oversees this research area as Associate Director for Research and Dr. James G. Bellingham (Principal Research Engineer) directs the AUV Lab with support from Dr. James W. Bales, Dr. Bradley A. Moran, and Mr. Robert Grieve, as well as nine Post-Doctoral Associates, Research Fellows, graduate and undergraduate students.

Our solicitation for new proposals has described a third theme area 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" is led by Professor Michael Triantafyllou as Principal Investigator with Dr. Thomas Consi as Associate Investigator--both of the Department of Ocean Engineering. This work follows 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. The current research is focused on better visualization and analysis of the flow of fluid through which live, unrestrained fish swim. This will require 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 is 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 benefits to be gained in applying this knowledge to man-made vehicles to make better use of energy.

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 two projects still active, a third beginning last August and a fourth beginning in March of this year. The two still active projects concerned the development and application of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and are both overseen by Professor Schmidt and Dr. Bellingham. AUV: Basic Technologies has completed its final year. AUV: Scientific and Industrial Applications will complete its six year research program in 1999. 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 August of last year a new focused research program was begun that builds upon the results of a successful Marine Center recently completed (Coastal Water Quality). Under Dr. E. Eric Adams, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineer, who had led the prior focused research is the Principal Investigator for Behavior of Capped Contaminated Sediments

Our most recent focused research program is a natural outgrowth of the long-standing interest in robotics in the marine world which fueled the successful AUV program. This focused research program, Development of Autonomous Surface Craft, begun this past March, is led by Professor Nicholas Patrikalakis of the Department of Ocean Engineering. Dr. Tom Vaneck is managing the development and testing of the autonomous surface craft.


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 NSF, and the Department of Ocean Engineering and the MIT UROP itself raised this to a total of $55,000. Twenty UROPs were supported this year representing six MIT departments.

Our first Sea Grant Industrial Fellow, Ocean Engineering graduate student Neil Best, has completed his first fellowship year. As part of his project, Operational Optimization of an Ocean-Based Aquaculture Facility, Neil spent the spring semester at Ocean Spar Technologies, the project's industrial partner, on Bainbridge Island, Washington. There he gained hands-on experience with the company's innovative systems and designed a flounder grow-out cage soon to be deployed on Long Island. This program and the experiences it brings in real-world problem solving has proven to be an excellent model for combining research and education.


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.

In September of 1996 the Collegium cosponsored a two-day international conference on welding technology and research, New Horizons in Welding Fabrication: A Conference to Honor Professor Koichi Masubuchi, in collaboration with the Industrial Liaison Program and the American Welding Society. Speakers and participants from East Asia, Europe, South America, and industrial and academic representatives from North America provided a comprehensive review of materials, methods and applications. In addition to serving the primary purpose of the Marine Industry Collegium this conference honored Professor Koichi Masubuchi of the Department of Ocean Engineering for his outstanding contributions to the science of welding and for his many successes in developing experts in this field, many of whom were present at the conference.

A second aquaculture event was held later in the year (November 11), Longline Shellfishing and Aquaculture Workshop, that continued to highlight the commercial opportunities and challenges of aquaculture in the Northeast. This event, was structured around case studies of successful shellfish farming activities in the Canadian Maritimes, and in Australia and New Zealand. Reviews of engineering issues and legal/permitting considerations provided proper perspective for the broad set of interests represented in the audience.

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.

Since its establishment in 1982, CFER project director Cliff Goudey has varied the emphasis depending on the needs of the fisheries. 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

Notable efforts include a project to develop techniques for improving sea scallop productivity through controlled harvesting of seeded beds and through off-bottom culture in open waters. This project has lead to the establishment of the first experimental aquaculture research area in the US federal waters. In another project, CFER organized an experimental fishery to evaluate pair trawling for tuna and its effects on marine mammals.

Recently CFER established Aqualab, a demonstration site for urban aquaculture at the Charlestown Navy Yard. This is the first step in exploring the potential for an aquaculture industry in Boston Harbor. Collaborations with the City of Boston have lead to a plan to convert Moon Island into a major center for commercial aquaculture.

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. 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 under the leadership of Andrea Cohen produces outreach materials for a wide variety of consumers. In addition to our ongoing activities, notable achievements from the last year have included a new joint publication produced 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. The department is also significantly involved in a major exhibit at the New England Aquarium. C. Levi of our communications staff played a role in its initial conceptualization and continues to participate in its development. Called "Sounds in the Sea", its purpose is to educate the public about the nature of sound in the oceans. In the past year, Communications also collaborated with the Metropolitan District Commission and Friends of Magazine Beach, a community group, in sponsoring the Second Annual Clean-Up of Magazine Beach and the Banks of the Charles. Communications continues to write for the Nor'easter magazine (circ. 12,000), along with other Sea Grant programs in the Northeast region

From July 1996 to June 1997, the Communications office filled over one thousand requests for publications. This distribution included schools, businesses, government, citizens, media, the MIT community and others

The newest 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. The Center for Coastal Resources has continued to provide outreach activities that bring scientists, coastal resource managers and users together. This past year has seen the completion of the third mini-course focusing on metal contamination in coastal areas, collaboration in convening several conferences and workshops, and continuing efforts for coordinating regional research and management of the Gulf of Maine. The mini-course was on Metals in Aquatic Ecosystems that serves as continuing education for practicing coastal managers, public advocates for environmental issues, scientists and students. Judith Pederson, Manager of the Center for Coastal Resources co-convened a workshop supported by the North Atlantic Commission for Environmental Cooperation on Sustaining Resources in the Gulf of Maine: Toward Regional Management Actions and co-authored a white paper for that conference. She co-convened a conference on the Effects of Fishing Gear on the Sea Floor of New England and served on the Steering Committee of two workshops focused on research and management in the Gulf of Maine. A Mass Bay web page has been developed to provide linkage to data and research, and other information for the Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays and Boston Harbor regions. Follow up activities include communicating workshop and conference outcomes to coastal managers and have resulted in guidance and policy documents relating to appropriate use of introduced species in aquaculture.

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.

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 has instituted a series of seminars oriented towards aquaculture and fisheries issues--these are natural extensions to their traditional constituency of recreational and commercial users of coastal waters.

MMA's annual Saltwater Fishing Seminar is now in its 18th year and continues to draw approximately 100 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.

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 continues to serve as Executive Officer for the program.

MIT Sea Grant administers the Doherty Professorship endowed by the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Foundation. In 1997 Professor John Leonard of the Department of Ocean Engineering, was awarded the two-year chair for his proposal, "Dynamic Underwater Sonar Data Fusion". Dr. Leonard will investigate the unique ability of certain animals--dolphins in particular--to combine controlled movement of the animal with their sonar capability to interpret size and shape of objects of interest. Extensive use of the experimental facilities within the Institute will permit Professor Leonard to involve students in his research--an important aspect of the Doherty Professorship and one that continues to nourish the intellectual process so vital to a university community.

Paul E. Laibinis, an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering continues in his second year of his Doherty Professorship. Professor Laibinis' research concerns the preparation of organic barrier films that impede metal corrosion in aqueous and saline environments.

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

Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97