Recently in Research Category

Northernmost hydrothermal vent field


Professor Marv Lilley is about to return from an expedition to the 73°N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge led by Professor Rolf Pedersen from University of Bergen. They have successfully located, mapped and sampled the northernmost hydrothermal vent field. The UW Press release:

Scientists break record by finding northernmost hydrothermal vent field: "Inside the Arctic Circle, scientists have found black smoker vents farther north than anyone has ever seen before. Dissolved sulfide minerals that solidify when vent water hits the icy cold of the deep sea have, over the years, accumulated around the vents in what is one of the most massive hydrothermal sulfide deposits ever found on the seafloor."

(Via | RSS news feed: news releases about UW Schools, Departments, and Units: Oceanography, School of | University of Washington.)

Seagliders Visit KUOW Weekday


Robotic technology was highlighted on KUOW Weekday last Thursday morning, with Fritz Stahr of Oceanography's Seaglider Fabrication Center in the studio and a recorded interview with Professor Charlie Eriksen.

Download and Listen (12 Mb mp3)

Hood Canal Nitrogen Sources

Several oceanography faculty participated in the Hood Canal Science Summit on Monday, June 30. Learn more in articles from the Seattle Times, Bremerton Sun, and Tacoma News Tribune in which Jan Newton, Allan Devol and Jeff Richey are quoted.

Earlier today, Dean Arthur Nowell named Professor Ginger Armbrust as a Lowell and Frankie Wakefield Professor of Ocean and Fishery Sciences. Congratulations Ginger!

Ginger's research is centered on phytoplankton, the microscopic organisms responsible for 40% of the photosynthesis on earth. Her work emphasizes molecular approaches and combines lab-based and field-based studies to address basic questions about the function of marine ecosystems. She received her B.S. from Stanford University and her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography. She joined the UW faculty in 1995 and was promoted to Professor in 2006. She is also a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigator in Marine Microbiology and the Co-Director of the UW Pacific Northwest Center for Human Health and Ocean Studies.

She and her oceanography colleagues Professors Ger van den Engh, Gabrielle Rocap and Bob Morris moved recently to be co-located with faculty from several other departments focussing UW's work in environmental genomics. In the same ways that genome sciences have advanced our understanding of human health, these researchers work toward new insights into how oceanic ecosystems respond to environmental change. Their brand new laboratory is located in Benjamin Hall Interdisciplinary Research Building on the southwest fringe of campus. One highlight of this state-of-the-art facility is an advanced computing visualization system, the OptIPortal: a 63 megapixel display that catalyzes understanding of massive sets of data and is connected to a cooperative center at UC San Diego via the National LambdaRail.

More information on the Armbrust Lab

Seaglider Technology Licensed


The Seaglider represents a decade of effort in the School of Oceanography and the Applied Physics Laboratory. These low-power autonomous vehicles profile the upper 1000 meters of the water column for extended periods, communicating with shore after each dive.


Over the past year the development team, with the help of UW Technology Transfer, has been working toward commercialization of this technology. We are pleased that iRobot has licensed the core technology.

Congratulations to the Oceanography faculty, staff, students and alumni on the developer team: Charlie Eriksen, Jim Osse, Jim Bennett, Neil Bogue, Craig Lee, Geoff Shilling, Fritz Stahr, Troy Swanson, John Ballard, Andy Chiodi, Randy Fabro, Bill Fredericks, Amanda Gray, Mike Johnson, Karl Kunkle, John Kumph, and Kirk O'Donnell.

iRobot Enters Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Market

License with UW TechTransfer Secures Sole Rights to the Seaglider™ Vehicle, and Technology

San Diego, Calif., (AUVSI Booth #1121) and Bedford, Mass., June 10, 2008 – iRobot Corp. (Nasdaq: IRBT) today announced a sole licensing agreement with UW TechTransfer at the University of Washington to commercialize Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Seaglider technology previously supported by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation. The agreement with both the Applied Physics Laboratory and School of Oceanography reinforces the company’s strong ties to world class academics.

“We have a strong track record for transferring new technology from research initiatives into products that support military missions,” said Helen Greiner, co-founder and chairman of iRobot. “Ten years ago we transformed the original PackBot into a combat-proven robot used today by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and licensing the Seaglider from the University of Washington will help our robots conquer new underwater frontiers.”

Seagliders help civilian, academic and military personnel make oceanographic measurements at a fraction of the cost of traditional research vessels or moored instruments. These long-range, high-endurance vehicles economize on energy consumption with a buoyancy-based propulsion system to support mission ranges of thousands of kilometers and deployments lasting weeks to several months. Instruments can be attached to the Seaglider to persistently collect oceanic physical properties across a range of depths and areas, providing valuable insights to oceanographers and military planners.

“This is a wonderful example of the University of Washington’s commitment to build partnerships with industry, and to successfully transfer innovative research to the commercial sector. Our federal sponsors expect the University to be able to transition technology from the academic laboratory into the marketplace. We’re delighted to have formed a great relationship with iRobot. We’re convinced that their strength in building autonomous robots is a terrific fit for the Seaglider technology,” explains Russell McDuff, Director of the School of Oceanography.”

The Office of Naval Research funded the original research and development behind Seaglider technology beginning in 1995 and is currently testing this vehicle for additional applications. More than 70 Seagliders have been delivered and are currently in operation all over the world. Recent deployments include waters off Norway, Greenland, Taiwan, the Philippines and Iceland.

About UW TechTransfer

Established in 1982, UW TechTransfer facilitates the commercialization of new innovations arising from UW research through the management and licensing of intellectual property. Since the department’s founding, UW TechTransfer has helped create more than 235 companies in Washington state and abroad. In FY07, UW TechTransfer generated $38 million in total revenue from all sources. Additionally, UW TechTransfer manages a total patent portfolio of over 2000 issued and pending patents filed in the U.S. and around the world. For additional information about UW TechTransfer, visit

About iRobot Corp.

iRobot is a provider of robots that perform dull, dirty or dangerous missions in a better way. The company's proprietary technology, iRobot AWARE™ Robot Intelligence Systems, incorporates advanced concepts in navigation, mobility, manipulation and artificial intelligence. This proprietary system enables iRobot to build behavior-based robots, including its family of consumer and military robots. For additional information about iRobot, visit

More information on Seagliders can be found on the Seaglider Fabrication Center and APL webs and in the UW press release:

iRobot secures licensing agreement for UW's Seagliders: "University of Washington record-holding, ocean-observing robots that operate at sea for months at a time - traveling thousands of miles at the behest of operators on land directing activities via a satellite phone network - will be commercially produced by iRobot under a licensing agreement announced this week."

(Via | RSS | UW News Releases (all categories) | University of Washington Office of News and Information.)

A creative graphic featuring Slim Pickens/Maj. T.J. 'King' Kong of Dr. Strangelove

DEPTH is coming

Four years ago our undergraduates began producing an annual publication, DEPTH. The content is primarily from undergraduates to give perspective to our alumni and friend. My words in the issue that went to the printer today:
Among the strengths of our program is our engagement with undergraduates, not only in the classroom, but also in our laboratories, at our computers, on our ships, or in the field. Experiential education is at our core. I had the pleasure during Washington Weekend to announce the selection of Professor Rick Keil as the inaugural Richard H. Fleming Faculty Fellow. This endowed support rewards excellence in working toward this core value. Congratulations, Rick!

Rick, along with Eric d'Asaro, Debbie Kelley, Christopher Krembs and Eric Collins led this year's senior capstone expedition aboard RV Thomas G. Thompson to Glacier Bay, Alaska. You'll hear from the undergraduates elsewhere about their experiences. Let me share a portion of a gracious thank you from Lewis Sharman, our liaison at the National Park Service, and a cruise participant: "To the faculty: It's clear that you folks take your huge responsibility quite seriously. It was great fun to watch you interacting so positively with the students, sharing generously of your knowledge and experience. It was equally apparent that the students valued and appreciated each of you. Thank you for your ongoing commitment not only to research, but to learning and teaching."

Also building our undergraduate experience was a remarkable gift: a bequest of $2.2M endowment to establish the Lowell and Alice Barger Endowed Student Scholarship Fund. This fund will let us provide ~15 need-based tuition scholarships each year to deserving undergraduates.

In the coming year, please consider joining us for our annual Homecoming Husky Huddle before the Oregon State game Saturday, October 18, 2008 and during our open house and alumni luncheon on Saturday, April 25, 2009 during Washington Weekend.

To close, I am very proud that DEPTH, an experiment in Spring 2005, is in its fourth volume. We believe in our engagement with undergraduates; this publication is a measure of their engagement with us.

Alumni and friends, look for your copy in the mail in mid-June...

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Corrosive ocean water moving shoreward


Our PMEL colleagues continue to expand understanding of ocean acidification...

Corrosive ocean water moving inland: "The ocean is getting more corrosive, closer to shore, decades earlier than anyone expected, thanks in large part to all of the carbon dioxide being pumped into the air, according to new research from scientists in Seattle."

(Via Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Local News.)

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Research category.

Ocean Observing is the previous category.

School News is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.