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Potential Projects and Mentors for 2021

This list is being provided to give potential PEP applicants an idea of the kinds of research projects PEP students may do in 2021. Potential applicants might also review the research projects PEP students have done in recent years (2018-2020).

PEP does not guarantee that successful applicants will be matched with their first choice project/mentor. The PEP staff and the research mentors will work together to match students in labs where they can be successful. If you apply to the 2021 program, you may indicate on your application which mentors or projects interest you. If we offer you a spot in the 2021 program, we will take your interests into account when we match students with mentors. Soon after we extend offers (in March) to participate in PEP 2021, we will assign mentors and will put students in touch with their mentors to discuss potential projects.

The Potential Research Mentors List will be renewed and updated periodically, as more mentors/projects become available.

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Erika Lentz, Elizabeth Pendleton, and Travis Sterne

Institution/Department: USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

Research Interests: sea level rise hazards and decision support

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: The Sea-Level Rise Hazards and Decision-Support project assesses present and future coastal vulnerability to provide actionable information for management of our Nation’s coasts. Our lab conducts research on coastal landscape change using geospatial analysis and predictive tools to understand hazards and their impacts to the natural and built coastal environment. This project offers the opportunity to conduct geospatial data analysis (e.g. accuracy assessments for classified coastal datasets), and would be well suited for an internship if residency in Woods Hole is not possible or if a remote-only internship opportunity is preferred.


Erin Bryant

Mentors and Lab: Erin Bryant

Institution/Department: Sea Education Association, SEA Semester, Ocean and Coastal Policy

Research Interests: environmental behavior change, climate change mitigation, pollution prevention, ocean justice, aquaculture, watershed protection

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: Ocean and human health depend on biodiversity, human diversity, and a stable climate. My collaborators and I study how people view marine environmental problems, how they most effectively work toward solutions, and where power lies. Interns may conduct interviews related to marine pollution sources, climate change mitigation, or BIPOC climate adaptation priorities with a goal of teaching-module design. Ongoing research areas include but are not limited to: attitudes on commuting and other climate change mitigators; attitudes on single-use plastics; climate action planning; ocean regenerative farming; marine-uses inventories for ocean planning; role scripts for a climate-adaptation problem-solving and decision-making role play; storytelling for ocean and human health. We encourage interns to suggest their own variations and interests.


Scott Large
Mentors and Lab: Dr. Scott Large
Institution/Department: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Ecosystems Dynamics and Assessment Branch

Research Interests: Fisheries assessment, fish ecology, biological-physical oceanography, conservation, statistical modelling, grouper spawning aggregations

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: National Estuarine Research Reserves data workflow for EDAB products: The project is will develop a data workflow for incorporating National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERR) data into the State of the Ecosystem Report
and other EDAB products. This project would have three main goals; (1) to identify points of contact in NERRs, (2) to select a relevant subset of NERRs data and (3) to develop an data stream and example output for each region that could be incorporated into future State of the
Ecosystem reports and other EDAB products. This project will focus on data workflow development and reproducibility. The workflow will be established with input and supervision from center staff/contactors to ensure that the data stream will fold easily into the larger product development scientific data workflows.


Julie Huber
Mentors and Lab: Dr. Julie Huber 

Institution/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Marine Chemistry and

Research Interests: Julie is an oceanographer by training and is broadly interested in how basic earth processes- rocks forming, fluids moving, sediments accumulating-
interact to create and maintain life in the oceans. Her research addresses some of the most central questions about the nature and extent of life on Earth in one of its least explored corners, the subseafloor habitat beneath the ocean floor.

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: Potential projects include cultivation of microbes from deep-sea hydrothermal vents, using advanced molecular tools, including DNA and RNA sequencing, to examine microbes living beneath the seafloor, and other related microbial biogeochemistry projects.


Kenneth Foreman

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Kenneth Foreman 

Institution/Department: Marine Biological Laboratory/Semester in Environmental Science

Research Interests: effects of nutrient loading and eutrophication in the coastal zone – especially shallow bays and estuaries that receive the majority of their nutrient inputs through submarine groundwater discharge.

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: Undergraduate projects typically involve the study of groundwater biogeochemistry, nutrient cycling and nutrient contamination from wastewater on estuaries and coastal ponds. If it is possible to have students in residence in Woods Hole in 2021 for field-based work, project will involve sampling nutrients in well network on Little Pond/or working with wood chip reactors to remove nutrients at the Wareham Wastewater Treatment Facility.  Field work will require knowledge of basic chemistry.


Meagan Eagle

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Meagan Eagle

Institution/Department: USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

Research Interests: the interface of land and sea; building new tools to address coastal hazards.

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: Coastal wetlands are critical ecosystems at the interface of land and sea that offer a multitude of ecosystem benefits. Our lab studies how wetlands are involved in the climate system via cycling of carbon and greenhouse gases. Interns may have the opportunity to conduct field studies in Cape Cod marshes related to this topic, or if residency in Woods Hole is impossible the student may work on analysis of data related to greenhouse gas and carbon fluxes through the coastal environment.


Adam Subhas

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Adam Subhas

Institution/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry

Research Interests: All of the organisms that grow calcium carbonate shells in the ocean, and their relationship to the marine carbon and alkalinity cycles. Some of the lab’s work can be viewed here

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: Our lab is interested in on global solutions to the CO2 emissions crisis – 2021 summer project will examine the biological and chemical consequences to adding alkalinity to the ocean as a carbon sequestration strategy. If interns can be resident in Woods Hole, the project will involve foraminifera dissolution experiments or potentially some incubations to test the effects of enhancing ocean alkalinity on marine microbes.  If the research component must be done remotely, the 2021 intern(s) will continue the 2020 project of analyzing sediment trap data.


Lauren Mullineaux

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Lauren Mullineaux

Institution/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Biology (Department Chair)

Research Interests:Ecology of the seafloor; Larval dispersal, Deep-sea biology,  Population connectivity, Community resilience. More at:  Mullineaux Benthic Ecology Lab

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: (1) Colonization and resilience of deep-sea hydrothermal vent communities: analysis of field samples and images; (2) Behavior of larvae in turbulent flow: laboratory experiments with live larvae or numerical simulations; (3) Role of parasites in coastal marine habitat: field exploration of diversity and function of parasites in local marshes.


Sofie Van Parijs & Jennifer Turek

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Sofie Van Parijs and Jennifer Turek

Institution/Department: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Protected Species Branch

Research Interests: The Passive Acoustics Group uses innovative passive acoustic technologies to evaluate the impacts of various human-produced sounds on acoustically sensitive marine animals, to aid in management, monitoring, and conservation efforts.

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: Project involves preparation of material for outreach and education projects. Internship will focus on creating and adapting existing webpages, creating sound clips and spectrograms of marine animals, finding images and helping write text to explain our research projects.  New things are discovered by using bioacoustics - see this suspected new marine mammal species identified from its unique sound pattern!  As the field of bioacoustics is increasingly used for immediate conservation efforts (as is being shown here with the North Atlantic Right Whale), the Passive Acoustic Group is wanting to have assistance making this information more available for outreach and education purposes.


Ann Tarrant

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Ann Tarrant

Institution/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Biology

Research Interests: Use of molecular tools to better understand how animals detect and respond to signals and stresses in the marine environment. More here

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects:  Two potential projects, the first is a bioinformatics project that could be done either remotely or in person: (1) How do environmental conditions affect physiological condition of an Antarctic copepod? Samples of two copepod species have been sampled along the Western Antarctic Peninsula, and RNA-seq data is in hand to study the molecular physiology of these copepods. The two copepod species have different diets, metabolic characteristics, and "winter survival strategies." We are hoping to learn more about how they are adapted to their habitats and how they might respond to future environmental change. We are looking for a PEP student who would be interested in exploring the relationships between environmental conditions at the sampling sites (e.g., temperature, chlorophyll, community composition) and the differences in gene expression. A good match for this project would be a student willing to learn how to explore large datasets using the R computer language. No previous computer coding experience is necessary, but the project would require spending time working through computer tutorials, both with guidance and on your own.

The second is a lab-based project: (2) How might a common environmental pollutant affect stress tolerance of coastal invertebrates? Glyphosate is an herbicide that is widely used in agriculture and landscaping (e.g., in "Roundup"). Possible impacts of glyphosate on animals would be an unintended effect of its use. Glyphosate works by inhibiting a specific metabolic pathway that plants and some microbes use to make amino acids. The chemical is often thought to be safe for animals because most animals don't have this pathway. It's recently been shown that this pathway is present in reef-building corals and their relatives the sea anemones. Corals and anemones seem to particularly rely on this pathway to make a specific type of amino acids that absorb ultraviolet radiation ("UV") and can serve as natural "sunscreens." We propose to test whether glyphosate exposure affects "sunscreen" production and UV tolerance in sea anemones. A good match for this project would be a student who would be interested in learning more about environmental pollutants and willing to spend time caring for and observing marine invertebrates (sea anemones). No specific previous experience is necessary.


Matt Long

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Matt Long

Institution/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry

Research Interests: the ways that natural and anthropogenic processes influence the structure and function of marine ecosystems, studied through unique engineering solutions, advanced instrumentation, and technology development. Studies of biogeochemical cycling, physical transport processes, and bio-physical interactions are principal components of research into carbon and nutrient cycling in coastal environments. More here.

Potential 2021Undergraduate Projects: Project could be done remotely and involves analyses of water quality monitoring program data. Project may involve the National Estuarine Research Reserve system for this, which has 29 sites, and would provide projects for multiple students. Project will involve use of MATLAB and potentially R or possibly Excel.


Chris Neil

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Chris Neill

Institution: Woodwell Climate Research Center

Research Interests: Understanding the factors that enhance the success of ecological restoration of wetlands and grassland and the ways that ecological restoration, and the ecosystems services that restored ecosystems provide, can contribute to regional resiliency in the face of climate change.

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: Potential to participate in studies of the effects of restoration of former cranberry agriculture on soils and water quality. Summer field projects (if possible) could focus on understanding soil topography and moisture, soil denitrification rates, and vegetation responses to restoration, and effects of restoration on stream water quality. Projects could also participate in analyses of data on soils, vegetation, water quality, and fish movements before and after recent wetland restoration projects.


Jennifer Watts

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Jennifer Watts

Institution/Department: Woodwell Climate Research Center

Research Interests: patterns and mechanisms of change in terrestrial environments, particularly the tundra, wetlands and forests in the Arctic-boreal regions of Alaska and Canada; Also, the semi-arid grasslands in the Rocky Mountain West.

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: Four potential projects, all of which can be done remotely:

1) Using drone and small-sat imagery, in situ fluxes, and other geospatial data to identity spatial patterns and drivers of methane in a boreal wetland;

2) Understanding the vulnerability of Arctic-Boreal communities to climate change using geospatial data and a hot spot analysis;

3) Exploring how ecosystem properties and land use affect the ability of rangeland systems to sequester CO2 in the Rocky Mountain US;

4) "Signals in the Trees" - exploring what solar-induced fluorescence (SIF), L-band microwave signals, and other remote sensing indicators can tell us about the seasonality of CO2 uptake in boreal forests.


Carolyn Tepolt

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Carolyn Tepolt 

Institution/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Biology Department

Research Interests: How – and how quickly – marine populations respond to novel or changing conditions, with a focus on using marine species invasions as natural experiments in rapid adaptation. More at:

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects:

  1. (virtually or in-person): a comparison of how heart rates change with temperature in two high-impact invasive crab species, to predict their future spread and response to a warming ocean.
  2. (virtually or in-person): an examination of genetic markers in invasive green crabs, to better understand their rapid spread and success across a wide range of temperatures. If in-person, this project would include some genetic benchwork; if virtual, it would be entirely genetic data analysis.
  3. (in-person only): experimental infection of host crabs with an invasive body-snatching parasite, to test how susceptibility varies depending on whether or not the crab has been exposed to the parasite in the past.

For all of these projects, a good match would be a student with an interest in learning data analysis and visualization (mostly in the R programming language), both with lab guidance and independently. For the parasite project specifically, a good match would be a student with an interest in working with and caring for live animals (small crabs). No specific prior experience is necessary for any project, just a willingness to learn and enthusiasm for understanding how marine animals adapt.


Samuel Laney

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Samuel Laney 

 Institution/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Biology Department

Research Interests: Oceanography and engineering with broad interests in marine phytoplankton ecology. The questions that motivate me the most are those that examine how phytoplankton respond to changes in the oceanic light environment. My research aims to decipher the complex photosynthetic behaviors we see in phytoplankton in order to gain more insight into how these critical marine microbes contribute to oceanic processes such as primary production.

Research is strongly interdisciplinary and novel instrumentation & engineering approaches play an important role in my laboratory and field studies. Engineering efforts focus on autonomous, 'robotic' sampling of phytoplankton properties, especially in ice-covered polar regions where little is known about the distributions and ecology of algae in and under sea ice. More here:

Potential research areas for 2021 PEP students:

  • Satellite remote sensing: Studying the ocean from space using satellite data. This would be primarily computer-based and a student could expect to develop some skills with retrieving and interpreting satellite ocean data. Can be done as a virtual project in 2021.
  • Ocean instrumentation & automation: Modern oceanography is highly dependent on instruments and sensors. A range of projects involving different types of ocean sensors are possible. Kits and actual ship sensors can be shipped to students to work on at home. Project would be hands-on, requiring some use of computers, and not necessarily any background in technology or computers.
  • Polar oceanography: Both of the above projects are available with research involving the Arctic Ocean.


Melisa Diaz and Catherine Walker

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Catherine Walker and Dr. Melisa Diaz 

Institution/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering; Geology and Geophysics

Research Interests: climate change in Earth's polar regions (i.e. Arctic and Antarctic); mapping; remote sensing; satellite imaging; laser altimetry. More here

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Project(s): The usage and applications of satellite imagery to study evidence of modern climate change in Antarctica are still relatively new. We propose an exploratory undergraduate project using satellite imagery and possibly ICESat-2 satellite data to locate and map ponds in the Transantarctic Mountains, Antarctica. Once the ponds are identified, the student will dive into historic records to measure lake/pond level change over time and relate these data to long-term temperature trends throughout the region. No prior knowledge of Antarctic geomorphology, mapping, satellite imagery, or computer programming is required, though these skills would be beneficial. This project would best suit a student with an interest in the cryosphere and remote sensing.


Heidi Sosik

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Heidi Soski -  Northeast U.S. Shelf LTER

Institution/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Biology and Physical Oceanography Departments

Research Interests: Biological, chemical, and physical oceanographers work together in a multi-disciplinary team to study the Northeast U.S. Shelf ecosystem.

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: The Northeast U.S. Shelf (NES) Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) project integrates observations, experiments, and models to understand and predict how planktonic food webs are changing, and how those changes impact the productivity of higher trophic levels. In 2021 NES-LTER seeks PEP students in the fields of biology, engineering, mathematics, and physics. The project may include modeling and/or the impact of long-term changes in the physical environment on the ecosystem.


Anna Michel

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Anna Michel

Institution/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering

Research Interests: Understanding of ocean chemistry and its role in the current age where human activity is significantly impacting climate, environment, and ocean health. My research focuses on the development of in situ optical sensors to achieve this goal.

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: Our interdisciplinary (engineering and chemistry) research focus is on advancing environmental observation through the development and deployment of novel sensors for measurement of key chemical species. In my lab, we design, build, and deploy advanced laser-based chemical sensors for environments ranging from the deep sea to Arctic environments. We are especially interested in bringing new technologies to the field for measurement of the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide. An additional focus of our lab is on bringing adaptive sampling to ocean and earth science. More recently, we have been developing approaches for detecting microplastics in the ocean.

If we are fully remote, include analyzing environmental data sets(possibly with machine learning approaches), designing components for ocean instrumentation used CAD, or if possible, working on a hands-on sensor project or a plastics project. Examples of remote hands-on projects could include testing sensors outside and under different conditions or working with plastic samples to investigate how they weather in the environment. If we are in-person for summer 2021, projects can include developing and testing small gas sensors, investigating microplastics in ocean environments, advancing small platforms (including underwater remotely operated vehicles, surface vehicles, or drones) for making environmental measurements, and using machine learning approaches for data analysis.  Our group includes members with interests in environmental chemistry, engineering, computer science, and physics, but we welcome anyone with interests related to our research. Students can expect an interdisciplinary research experience.


Matthew Charette

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Matthew Charette

Institution/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry

Research Interests: the transport of materials from the land to the ocean and their impact on ocean biogeochemical cycles.

Potential 2021 Project: Ocean Mud and How it Can Regulate the Chemical Composition of Seawater and Even Earth’s Climate – Are you interested in how sediments can influence the chemistry of the ocean, and even potentially help to regulate Earth’s climate? In the Charette lab, we are dedicated to seeking knowledge on how ocean boundaries – from coastal aquifers to deep sea sediments – supply elements and compounds that are essential to life on our planet. We use radionuclides, in particular the isotopes of radium, as tracers of these important processes.

Potential undergraduate project in our lab will focus on interpretation of a radium isotope dataset in samples collected from a cruise to the Pacific Ocean in 2018. The intern will be introduced to various radiochemical techniques, data reduction, and data interpretation using other measurements collected on the cruises. Intern will have the opportunity to interact virtually with other members of our dynamic lab group, including students, postdocs, and research technicians. Please visit the lab group website at for more information.


Woods Hole Sea Grant

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Matthew Charette and Jennie Rheuban 

Institution/Department: Woods Hole Sea Grant, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 

Research Interests: The Woods Hole Sea Grant program, based at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), supports research, education, and extension projects that encourage environmental stewardship, long-term economic development, and responsible use of the nation’s coastal and ocean resources.

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: Potential 2021 Projects: Ongoing research and extension projects at Woods Hole Sea Grant focus on the sustainable use of our coastal natural resources ranging from plastics to fisheries and aquaculture to coastal water quality.  A potential PEP student could contribute to a number of ongoing efforts including: 1) reducing the use of single use plastics in the marine trades. This project would include analyses of survey data collected from residents and boatyards in Massachusetts on their perceptions, use, and disposal of plastics in boat storage. This project might also include stakeholder engagement, development of outreach materials and public messaging to encourage the use of reusable products. 2) Another project would include contributing to the Sea Grant American Lobster Initiative, which is a regional network of state Sea Grant programs in the Northeast US focusing on engagement of stakeholders in the American Lobster fishery. This project would include developing a searchable database of historical research on the American Lobster that would serve as a public resource available on Woods Hole Sea Grant’s webpage. 3) If PEP were to occur in person, a third potential project could be to contribute to a study investigating the effects of coastal water quality and ocean acidification on shellfish growth and survival. This project would include local field work, water sampling, maintenance and monitoring of water quality instrumentation and aquaculture gear, and biological sampling of clams and oysters at grow-out locations.


Deborah Hart

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Deborah Hart

Institution/Department: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Resource Evaluation & Assessment/Population Dynamics

Research Interests: Length-based and spatial stock assessment methods that are applicable to the sea scallop fishery; a spatial SAMS model that is the primary forecasting tool used by the New England Fishery Management Council to aid in management of sea scallops. More recently, Dr. Hart and her colleagues have been developing tools to analyze data from the Habcam towed camera survey, including geostatistical modeling and automated image analysis.

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: Habcam is an underwater camera system that takes photos of the sea floor. It has taken about 5 million image pairs annually from 2012-2019. These photos are routinely analyzed for sea scallops and fish, but not other objects in the images, such as sand dollars and sea stars. One potential project is for students to examine images for these other organisms, and then analyze the resulting data. Depending on the student’s interest, there also may be opportunities to explore using Computer Vision/Artificial Intelligence software to analyze these images.


Brian Stock

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Brian Stock

Institution/Department: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Population Dynamics Branch

Research Interests: Fisheries assessment, fish ecology, biological-physical oceanography, conservation, statistical modelling, grouper spawning aggregations

Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects: Several ideas depending on the student's interest. For all projects, some experience in math/stats and coding would be useful (required for #3), and/or a strong desire to learn. 1) Explore REEF's volunteer diver survey project, a gold mine of underutilized data. Questions include: a) compare reef fish diversity and abundance before and after protections (e.g. marine protected areas, MPAs) were put in place; b) document changes in abundance and distribution, comparing to other sources if possible (turtles, elasmobranchs, and Hawaiian reef fish in particular); c) create spatial heat maps for a number of high profile species where distribution information is lacking (e.g. Nassau Grouper in the Caribbean). 2) Measure grouper egg buoyancy (in previously collected video) and use these estimates to model vertical egg distributions over time. This is useful to inform dispersal of eggs and larvae from spawning sites (see here). Contributes to the Grouper Moon Project, studying the largest documented spawning aggregation of Nassau Grouper. 3) Attempt to estimate fish lengths from single camera images, building a machine learning model trained and tested on an awesome dataset of ~10,000 fish images with known lengths. Also contributes to the Grouper Moon Project.

Hauke Kite-Powell

Mentors and Lab: Dr. Hauke Kite-Powell

 Institution/Department: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Marine Policy Center

Research Interests: Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) conduct social scientific research that integrates economics, policy analysis, and law with WHOI’s basic research in ocean sciences. While MPC’s research is based in rigorous academic disciplines, such as economics, much of it is applied in nature and motivated by current issues in coastal and marine resource management. Areas of recent research include: human responses to shoreline change; the economic effects of harmful algal blooms; the consequences of channel deepening in major estuaries; ecosystem-based fisheries management; aquaculture development and fisheries management in developing countries; and coastal and marine spatial planning. Students are offered the opportunity to choose project topics from a list of current projects or to develop their own projects. Many MPC student projects involve exploring the impacts of human activities on the coastal or marine environments by linking economic models to models of natural systems.


Potential 2021 Undergraduate Projects:

Marine Resource Management under Changing Social and Ecological Conditions; Di Jin 

Sustainable marine resource management must adapt to short- and long-term changes in social and ecological conditions. The project will explore long-term trends in fisheries and aquaculture production and trade, as well as relevant changes in resource conditions and management policies. The analysis will use historical data from NOAA Fisheries and FAO and ecosystem parameters from the marine scientific literature. Selection of a specific study area, species, and policy issue will be jointly determined with the student.  Examples of research topics include, but is not limited to, US seafood production and dependence on imports, impacts of Harmful algal blooms (HABs) on commercial and recreational fisheries, potential harvest of marine resources from the ocean twilight zone, and sustainable management of glass eel resources.  This research may be conducted 100% remotely.


Drivers of renewable energy technology innovation; Yaqin Liu 

The rapid development of alternative energy technologies is critical to reducing carbon emissions and addressing the challenges of climate change. We will use econometric techniques to analyze the major drivers of renewable energy technological innovations via patent data. This work involves data collecting and preliminary analysis.


Maine lobster fishery management; Yaqin Liu

The American lobster fishery is, along with scallops, on the of the most important pillars of New England seafood production.  We will investigate the degree to which the Maine lobster fishery is managed for biological and economic sustainability, and whether it is at risk of economic over-exploitation.  This work involves information collection, literature review, and preliminary analysis using bio-economic fishery management models.


Mathematical models of marine populations and communities; Michael Neubert 

In my laboratory, we formulate and analyze mathematical models to address scientific questions that arise in the study of marine populations or communities. Many (but not all) of these questions have to do with how best to conserve or manage populations in the face of some form of stress (e.g., invasive pests, habitat disturbance, harvesting, or climate change). The project a summer student might work on in my lab will depend upon a combination of the student’s mathematical and computational training and biological interests. Examples include developing models to study (1) the efficacy of marine protected areas, (2) how best to manage the spread of an invasive species or epidemic, (3) how species persist in dynamic environments around hydrothermal vents, (4) phytoplankton population dynamics, or (5) zombies.


Large-scale seaweed farming systems; Hauke Kite-Powell 

Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) are working with scientists and engineers at WHOI and at other institutions to develop technologies for potential future large-scale ocean farming of seaweeds, including kelp and tropical species, as a feedstock for biofuel. One major challenge is to bring the cost of large-scale ocean farming down so that marine feedstocks can be competitive with land-based production. Farm location, layout, gear design, and operating paradigms all affect both the capital and operating costs of the farm, and the biological yield from the seaweed crop. This project involves the use of spreadsheet models to identify the key parameters in farm design, operations, and siting that will determine economic viability. Additional project information


Entanglement risk modeling; Hauke Kite-Powell

Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) are working with members of the protected species programs at NOAA and the New England Aquarium on ways to estimate the risk posed to North Atlantic Right Whales and other protected species by new types of ocean activities such as aquaculture. Entanglement in fishing gear is a major source of injury and mortality for marine mammals. As interest grows in farming shellfish, seaweeds, and finfish in waters off New England, understanding and managing these risks becomes critically important. The project involves working with GIS data on species abundance and spreadsheet models of entanglement risk to estimate risk from various types of aquaculture gear in locations off New England. Additional project information 

Value of investments in ocean science; Hauke Kite-Powell

Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) are working with NOAA and other agencies to better understand the economic value generated by the resources the United States allocates each year to ocean science and ocean research.  Understanding the value chain from investments in ocean science to the ultimate economic effects is important for several reasons: it helps government gauge the appropriate overall amount that should be spent on ocean science, and it helps allocate effort appropriately within the overall ocean science and research enterprise.  Projects may involve looking at this question in the areas of weather and climate forecasts, ocean acidification, tsunami warnings, and fisheries management.


US seafood supply chain security; Hauke Kite-Powell

Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) are working with the US seafood industry to identify vulnerabilities in the US seafood supply chain, which relies extensively on overseas trade and seafood production in other nations.  We will assemble and analyze seafood trade data, and a characterize risks that may affect overseas supply and trade flows in the future; and we will identify steps the US can take to increase the resilience of its seafood supply.  Projects may involve data assembly and analysis, and applying simple modeling techniques to seafood trade flows to identify supply chain vulnerabilities.