Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution logo
Established1930; 91 years ago
Research typeMarine sciences and marine engineering
PresidentPeter B. de Menocal
Staff1,000 (approximate)
LocationWoods Hole, Massachusetts

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI, acronym pronounced /ˈhi/ HOO-ee) is a private, nonprofit research and higher education facility dedicated to the study of marine science and engineering.

Established in 1930 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, it is the largest independent oceanographic research institution in the U.S., with staff and students numbering about 1,000.



The Institution is organized into six departments,[1] the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research, and a marine policy center. Its shore-based facilities are located in the village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, United States and a mile and a half away on the Quissett Campus. The bulk of the Institution's funding comes from grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation and other government agencies, augmented by foundations and private donations.

WHOI scientists, engineers, and students collaborate to develop theories, test ideas, build seagoing instruments, and collect data in diverse marine environments. Ships operated by WHOI carry research scientists throughout the world’s oceans. The WHOI fleet includes two large research vessels (Atlantis and Neil Armstrong), the coastal craft Tioga, small research craft such as the dive-operation work boat Echo, the deep-diving human-occupied submersible Alvin, the tethered, remotely operated vehicle Jason/Medea, and autonomous underwater vehicles such as the REMUS and SeaBED.

WHOI offers graduate and post-doctoral studies in marine science. There are several fellowship and training programs, and graduate degrees are awarded through a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).[2][3] WHOI is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.[4] WHOI also offers public outreach programs and informal education through its Exhibit Center and summer tours. The Institution has a volunteer program and a membership program, WHOI Associate.

On October 1, 2020, Peter B. de Menocal became the institution's eleventh president and director.[5]


In 1927, a National Academy of Sciences committee concluded that it was time to "consider the share of the United States of America in a worldwide program of oceanographic research." The committee's recommendation for establishing a permanent independent research laboratory on the East Coast to "prosecute oceanography in all its branches" led to the founding in 1930 of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[6]

A $2.5 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation supported the summer work of a dozen scientists, construction of a laboratory building and commissioning of a research vessel, the 142-foot (43 m) ketch Atlantis, whose profile still forms the Institution's logo.[6]

WHOI grew substantially to support significant defense-related research during World War II, and later began a steady growth in staff, research fleet, and scientific stature. From 1950 to 1956, the director was Dr. Edward "Iceberg" Smith, an Arctic explorer, oceanographer and retired Coast Guard rear admiral.[7]

In 1977 the institution appointed the influential oceanographer John Steele as director, and he served until his retirement in 1989.[8]

On 1 September 1985, a joint French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution identified the location of the wreck of RMS Titanic, which sank off the coast of Newfoundland 15 April 1912.

On 3 April 2011, within a week of resuming of the search operation for Air France Flight 447, a team led by WHOI, operating full ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) owned by the Waitt Institute discovered, by means of sidescan sonar, a large portion of debris field from flight AF447.[9]

In March 2017 the institution effected an open-access policy to make its research publicly accessible online.[10]

The Institution has maintained a long and controversial business collaboration with the treasure hunter company Odyssey Marine.[11] Likewise, WHOI has participated in the location of the San José galleon in Colombia for the commercial exploitation of the shipwreck by the Government of President Santos and a private company.

In 2019, iDefense reported that China's hackers had launched cyberattacks on dozens of academic institutions in an attempt to gain information on technology being developed for the United States Navy.[12] Some of the targets included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[12] The attacks have been underway since at least April 2017.[12]

Military contracting

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution develops technology for the United States Navy, including ocean battlespace sensors,[13] unmanned undersea vehicles,[14] and acoustic navigation and communication systems for operations in the Arctic.[15] The Institution is also working on Project Sundance for the Office of Naval Research.[16]

Awards issued

B. H. Ketchum Award

The B. H. Ketchum award, established in 1983, is presented for innovative coastal/nearshore research and is named in honor of oceanographer Bostwick H. "Buck" Ketchum. The award is administered by the WHOI Coastal Ocean Institute and Rinehart Coastal Research Center.


Henry Bryant Bigelow Medal in Oceanography

The Henry Bryant Bigelow Medal in Oceanography was established in 1960 in honor of the first WHOI Director, biologist Henry Bryant Bigelow.

Recipients: Source:[18]


Over the years, WHOI scientists have made seminal discoveries about the ocean that have contributed to improving US commerce, health, national security, and quality of life. They have received awards and recognition from scientific societies such as The Oceanography Society, the American Geophysical Union, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, and several others.[19]

Notable current scientists include:

Research fleet


WHOI operates several research vessels, owned by the United States Navy, the National Science Foundation, or the Institution:

WHOI formerly operated R/V Knorr, which was replaced by R/V Neil Armstrong in 2015.[23]

Small boat fleet

WHOI operates many small boats used in inland harbors, ponds, rivers, and coastal bays. All are owned by the Institution itself.

Underwater vehicles

WHOI also has developed numerous underwater autonomous and remotely operated vehicles for research:

See also


  1. ^ "Departments, Centers, and Labs" . whoi.edu. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  2. ^ "Ensuring the future of ocean science" . whoi.edu. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  3. ^ "MIT-WHOI Joint Program" . Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  4. ^ "Accreditation - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution" . WHOI. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  5. ^ "President and Director" . whoi.edu. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  6. ^ a b "History and Legacy" . whoi.edu. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  7. ^ Thiesen, William H. (3 September 2020). "The Long Blue Line: Edward "Iceberg" Smith—Coast Guard's admiral of the ice!" . U.S. Coast Guard. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  8. ^ "John Steele – obituary" . The Telegraph. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  9. ^ In search of Air France Flight 447 Lawrence D. Stone Institute of Operations Research and the Management Sciences 2011
  10. ^ "Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution" . ROARMAP: Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies. UK: University of Southampton. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  11. ^ "La trama financiera de cazatesoros detrás del rescate del galeón San José" . abc (in Spanish). July 9, 2018.
  12. ^ a b c Sekine, Sara (March 6, 2019). "Chinese hackers target North American and Asian universities" . Nikkei Asian Review.
  13. ^ "Contracts for July 20, 2018" . U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  14. ^ "Contracts for July 30, 2018" . U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  15. ^ "Contracts for September 29, 2020" . U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  16. ^ "Contracts for April 22, 2019" . U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  17. ^ "B.H. Ketchum Award Recipients - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution" . WHOI. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  18. ^ "Award Recipients - Henry Bryant Bigelow Medal in Oceanography" . Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  19. ^ "WHOI scientists recognized for outstanding achievement - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution" . WHOI. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  20. ^ "Stan Hart Receives AGU's Highest Honor" . WHOI. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  21. ^ "Oil Spill Research : Chris Reddy's Lab" . www.whoi.edu. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  22. ^ Sosik, Heidi M. "Heidi M. Sosik | Speaker | TED" . www.ted.com. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  23. ^ "R/V Neil Armstrong - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution" . WHOI. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  24. ^ "James Cameron Partners With WHOI" . National Geographic. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  25. ^ "Robotic Deep-sea Vehicle Lost on Dive to 6-Mile Depth" . WHOI. May 10, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014.

External links

Categories: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Independent research institutes | Oceanographic organizations | Research institutes in Massachusetts | Education in Barnstable County, Massachusetts | Research institutes established in 1930 | 1930 in biology | 1930 establishments in Massachusetts | Falmouth, Massachusetts | Private universities and colleges in Massachusetts

Information as of: 04.06.2021 01:52:14 CEST

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