MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


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 1998 the National Office of Sea Grant awarded MIT $1.9 million. MIT, industry partners, the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and other federal (most notably ONR) and non-federal agencies provided more than $4.5 million. In all, these funds provided partial support for 20 faculty members, 11 post-doctoral and research fellows and 31 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 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 $4.5 million is represented by the third 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).

Particularly noteworthy this past year are the results from a program review conducted in May. All 29 programs will, over the next three years, be evaluated during a lengthy process conducted by specifically structured Program Assessment Teams (PATs) under the direction of the National Office of Sea Grant. Our program review held this past spring was among the first put through this process. The program aspects evaluated included quality of research, connection to our broad constituency, management structure, and strategic and tactical planning. We are pleased to report that our overall rating was an "excellent" attesting to the relevancy and quality of the entire program.


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 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 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 novel delivery systems for the vaccination of farmed fish, Development of New Methods for Efficient Vaccination of Farmed Fish: Controlled and Sustained Delivery of Vaccines, led by Professor Robert Langer with Dr. Yonathan Zohar, Visiting Scientist, both with the Department of Chemical Engineering. Professor Don Cheney, Northeastern University, Marine Science Center, continued his research into novel and potentially important research in seaweed as a source of compounds having commercial potential in food processing and pharmaceuticals, Novel Polysaccharide Production Through Seaweed Genetic Manipulation and Cell Culture Technology. These two research projects will be completed on July 31, 1998.

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- was completed in May, 1998.

Two new research projects began activities in March of this year. Professor Ralph Mitchell, Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Biology at Harvard University, is researching 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, continues 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 is being done as a component of a Non-indigenous Species grant with investigators from the Universities of New Hampshire and Maine.

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, increase our understanding of the marine ecosystem and our ability to influence its sustainability.

During the past year there have been twelve projects active during some portion of the twelve months. Many of them either have been or will be completed by July 31 of this year - these for the most part have been covered in prior year's reports.

Professor Ole Madsen, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, continued his research into the effects of seawalls on coastal sediment transport - his current project, Effect of Seawalls on Longshore Currents, is now in the final year of a two-year study. Professor Ivan Valiela of Boston University along with Professor Harry Hemond, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is also in the final year of a 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 isotope 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.

Work on underwater systems is carried out under Coastal Management and Utilization. Led by Professor Robert Chen of UMASS/Boston , Development of a Fiber Optic UV Fluorometer for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles a two-year research project, will be completed this summer. This project included participation of and support by the MIT Sea Grant Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Laboratory. The Lab, unique in its status as a research laboratory within a Sea Grant Program, 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. Professor Chen's latest research grant follows a recently completed study of real-time measurement of organics in Boston Harbor utilizing spectrofluorometry.

Current efforts continue to 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. 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 seven Post-Doctoral Associates, Research Fellows and graduate students, as well as undergraduate students.

A substantial effort, during the past year, for the AUV Lab was the preparation and actual field trip to the Labrador Sea in early February. This field trip involved a number of research teams - all with an interest in gaining a clearer understanding of global climate change. The AUV Lab deployed their AUV docking station at a depth of 500 meters which was to provide both a communication node and a battery re-charging facility for two AUV's conducting extensive spatial and temporal surveys at great depth. Results of this field work were very encouraging but revealed challenges not encountered in more hospitable ocean venues - the Labrador Sea in winter months often presents 30 foot seas and 35 knot winds to complement the intense cold. These severe conditions acted to underscore the need for very robust, fail-safe subsystems that have been extensively tested and studied in a controlled field environment.

The team was successful on a number of fronts - the most significant was the ability to communicate acoustically with the docking station which in turn transferred data and control information via the ship between team participants on-shore and the actual AUVs in the Labrador Sea depths.

In our most recent solicitation for new proposals we introduced a new theme area, Coupled Ocean Observation and Modeling, to address the need to involve available measurement methodologies in highly integrated systems for nowcast and forecast capabilities. This theme area has the added benefit for more effective collaboration of Sea Grant with other elements of NOAA, and the National Aeronautics and Space Agency. A number of new proposals that fit this research area are currently in peer review.

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 now in its second year, 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 benefit to be gained in applying this knowledge to man-made vehicles to make better use of energy.

Our most recent solicitation for proposed research beginning on March 1, 1998 yielded two successful proposals 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. The Milgram research represents a unique use of hologram technology and signal processing to allow observations of marine micro-organisms influenced by the effects of flow turbulence.

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 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.

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.

A close relationship among industry, government and academia is essential for a strong, goal-oriented university research program. Such a relationship allows faculty to contribute directly to industrial development and to meet societal needs, and in turn strengthens educational programs by keeping academic researchers attuned to evolving societal needs. The real contribution of such a relationship, however, is not just the solution of specific problems and the improvement of education, but also the familiarization of faculty with generic industrial and societal problems. This knowledge allows researchers to steer their long-term research in directions that may be more beneficial to industry and government agencies.

In July 1983, the director of the MIT Sea Grant College Program approached leaders of the offshore industry with a proposal to form an industry and government partnership. In this partnership, the MIT Sea Grant program would invest up to a maximum of $50,000 per project per year. Projects were not undertaken unless there was a good possibility of equal (or greater) industry funding. Preliminary funding of most of the studies came from the MIT Sea Grant Core Research Program, with additional support from other government funding sources, endowed professorships and/or MIT discretionary funds.

We have funded more than a dozen Focused Research Program projects at the $50,000 level and received matching industry support totaling almost $1 million. These projects have been reported in earlier proposals, in Sea Grant Publications and in the technical literature.

While the model described above has been very successful (and we will utilize it on appropriate occasions), it became clear that all parties would benefit if federal, state and local government agencies were included in the research and technology transfer partnership. Inclusion of government agencies has two advantages. First, it allows us to identify and address problems of broader societal interests, as well as those of industrial interests. Second, it assures us that we can obtain sufficient additional funds to support a critical mass of researchers.

The idea of including federal sponsors as sources of additional funds was stimulated by our success in the theme area Automation in the Manufacture of Marine Systems. This project, which began in 1986, attracted over $3 million in government funding and required only $425,000 in Sea Grant funds. That research activity has been so successful we have retired the theme area, but productive research, the education of students, and the transfer of technology continue under Sea Grant management.

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 AUV) for coastal as well as deep-ocean applications. Lessons learned from these vehicles are being incorporated in Odyssey II, which is being built under the third Focused Research Program project, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles: Scientific and Industrial Applications. This Focused Research Project is also 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.

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 will 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 now embodied 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.

Our most recent Focused Research/Marine Center, Poseidon: A Coastal Zone Management System via the World Wide Web, initiated work in March of this year. 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.).


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.


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 November of 1997 the Collegium sponsored a two-day symposium, Coupled Ocean Observation/Modeling Systems, to both provide a forum for current research in coastal research methodologies and to begin a process where our own research and outreach focus can expand into an important theme area. This symposium was successful on both counts and led to our including a new theme area in our most recent solicitation for proposals. The Collegium had announced in November its intent to host a second symposium in the spring which, in the same thematic track, would bring focus to remote sensing in coastal and shelf waters. This symposium, Ocean Modeling and Data Assimilation: Satellite Oceanography was held on May 4-5, 1998 and although not as heavily attended did produce substantial information and participation. Continuing this thematic track the Collegium is planning a third symposium for the fall of 1998.

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 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.

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.

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. This includes the continued production of the 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. Communications continues to write for the Nor'easter magazine (circ. 12,000), along with other Sea Grant programs in the Northeast region. From July 1997 to June 1998, the Communications office filled many requests for publications. This distribution included schools, businesses, government, citizens, media, the MIT community and others. In the past year, Communications also collaborated with the Metropolitan District Commission and Friends of Magazine Beach, a community group, in sponsoring the third Annual Clean-Up of Magazine Beach and the Banks of the Charles. We also maintain a reference center available to the community for informational purposes. Carolyn Levi, formerly a member of the Communications staff, left during the year to accept a position with the New England Aquarium.

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 continued collaboration in convening several conferences and workshops, and continuing efforts for coordinating regional research and management of 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.

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 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 19th 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.


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 December of 1977 Professor Bettina Voelker of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering was awarded the two-year chair for her proposal, Effects of Terrestrial Organic Matter on the Specification of Cu and Cd in Coastal Waters. Professor Voelker's research will further the understanding of the biological responses to copper and cadmium by marine organisms (e.g. cyanobacteria) and by terrestrial humic substances. The costs in terms of overall productivity of the marine biota, and the quantitative influence of increased ultraviolet radiation as a consequence of the ozone layer decreasing are two important goals of this research. Extensive use of experimental facilities within the Institute will permit Professor Voelker to involve students in her research - an important aspect of the Doherty Professorship and one that continues to nourish the intellectual process so vital to a university community.

John J. Leonard, an Assistant Professor of Ocean Engineering continues in the second year of his Doherty Professorship. Professor Leonard's research concerns 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 the object of interest.

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 1997-98