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About the Institutes

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is determined to set and lead an ambitious agenda for future ocean research to benefit society. In 2000, we established four Ocean Institutes encompassing areas of significant concern to the public and policymakers:

  • The Ocean and Climate Change Institute
  • The Coastal Ocean Institute
  • The Ocean Life Institute
  • The Deep Ocean Exploration Institute

The Ocean Institutes’ goals are to close gaps that hinder scientific discoveries, and to convey discoveries expeditiously into the public realm.

To build bridges between different scientific disciplines, the Ocean Institutes will bring together the best minds across the full spectrum of oceanographic and other relevant fields—to catalyze innovative thinking and collaboration that can open up wholly new scientific vistas.

The Ocean Institutes’ concurrent mission is to shorten the lag time between acquiring knowledge and making it accessible to decision-makers who can use it to save lives, stimulate economic growth, and enhance our quality of life.

And finally, the Ocean Institutes provide a necessary impetus of private resources, over and above traditional governmental support, to launch high-risk, high-reward research that would not otherwise get off the ground—or in the water.

Centers for Action
The Ocean Institutes will identify and sustain research initiatives to spur advances in ocean science. They will encourage interdisciplinary research and technology development among scientists, engineers, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, marine policy experts, and visiting investigators. They will stimulate the richest and most productive education environment for the future leaders of oceanography.

Focal Points to Gather Experts
The Ocean Institutes will regularly convene meetings of key scientists and leaders from academia, government, and industry to delve into oceanographic research issues that have significant bearing on society. These experts will assess our current state of knowledge on the issues, identify what we need to know and how we can best attain that knowledge, explore the consequences of various plans of action, and inspire necessary and promising areas of further research. The Ocean Institutes will provide a forum for dialogue between the public and the scientific community.

Sources for Information on the Oceans
The Ocean Institutes will dedicate resources—and vigorously pursue emerging technologies—to convey relevant, clear, unbiased information on the oceans to policymakers and the public in the most effective and timely ways. Along with their goal to produce excellent, essential research, the Institutes will take a proactive role in translating the fruits of new knowledge and in communicating the importance of the oceans to each person’s life and the world’s future.

Management Structure for Ocean Institutes at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution


  • Institute personnel should be limited to the Institute Director and the minimum necessary staff (Center Administrator and/or administrative professional, technical specialists if needed for Institute facilities), and all should have their primary appointments in a Department.
  • Research support from the Institute may be in the form of various menu items (grants, fellowships, matching funds, student & postdoc support) but should be for research programs that fall within the overall theme of the Institute.
  • Except for Visiting Fellows, all research support from the Institute will be for WHOI researchers. · Except for Visiting Fellows, no appointments will be made by the Institute independently of the Departments.
  • Research proposals generated within the Institute will be submitted through normal channels involving review by one or more relevant Departments.

Institutes Oversite Council (IOC):

  • Oversight of all four Institutes is the responsibility of the Institutes Oversight Council, made up of the Department Chairs, the MPC Director, the Director of Research, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the Director of Development (9 voting members). The Institute Directors will be ex officio, non-voting members.
  • The Director for Research will chair the IOC.
  • The Council has responsibility for recommending candidates for Institute Directors to the WHOI Director, based on nominations received from the Departments.
  • The Council recommends approval of the annual budgets and approves the major research foci of the Institutes, as well as long-term educational programs or facilities acquisitions, and commitments exceeding threshold amounts.
  • The Council assures fairness in the way that resources are distributed among and by the four Institutes, and serves as a review panel for complaints in this area.
  • The Council is the connection among the Institutes, Departments and WHOI Directorate, and helps coordinate interactions at that level, and with the Trustees and Corporation.

Institute Director (ID):

  • The Institute Director is a member of the tenured Scientific Staff, appointed by the WHOI Director as described above.
  • Nominations for Institute Director will be solicited from each Department. The IOC will make the final selection and recommendation to the WHOI Director.
  • The Institute Director normally serves a 4-year term, with 6 months of salary support per year. The different Institute Directors' terms should be staggered.
  • The Institute Director oversees the daily management of the Institute, including the distribution of resources according to decisions made with the Institute Advisory Committee.
  • The Institute Director works with the Institute Advisory Committee and the Institute Oversight Council to develop strategic directions including research focus areas, educational programs, summer institutes, symposia, outreach events etc.
  • The Institute Director is responsible for communications concerning the activities of the Institute and acts as the principal representative of the Institute to WHOI and outside communities.
  • The Institute Director is responsible for preparing, in consultation with the advisory committee, an annual budget to be submitted to the Council.
  • The Institute Director will be responsible for the management of the budget for the Institute, including reallocation of funds as needed for cost sharing, rapid response or other opportunities in consultation with the IAC and IOC, as appropriate.
  • The Institute Director prepares an Institute annual report, to be presented to the Institutes Oversight Council (IOC) and included in the WHOI annual report.

Institute Advisory Committee (IAC):

  • The IAC consists of appropriate departmental and disciplinary representation, and will have 5-6 members in addition to the Institute Director. In consultation with the Departments, the Institute Director nominates the IAC membership for approval by the IOC.
  • The Chair of the IAC is the Institute Director.
  • Terms of the Committee members are normally 3 years, and are staggered.
  • The Committee advises the Institute Director on yearly operations and activities of the Institute, and makes recommendations about research areas and distribution of resources.
  • The IAC will make funding recommendations, soliciting advice from ad hoc review panels as needed. Normal Institution Conflict of Interest procedures will be followed.

Educational Activities:

  • The Institute's education efforts will be pursued within WHOI's Education Programs and the oversight provided by WHOI Trustee's Charter for Education Council and Education Assembly.
  • The Institute may provide full or partial support for graduate students or Postdoctoral Scholars or Fellows who are considered admissible by the normal process as recommended by Education Council and Education Assembly. Students or postdocs will have their home affiliation at WHOI in a Department.
  • The Institute may organize and offer courses or summer institutes available to WHOI students and other students.

Membership of the Institute Advisory Committees

We are pleased to announce the membership of the Institute Advisory Committees for the new Ocean Institutes at WHOI. We received numerous nominations and applications for these Committees, for which we thank everyone. With the approval of the Institute Oversight Committee, we have selected 24 members of the Scientific and Technical Staff to serve on the advisory committees:

Coastal Ocean Institute

  • Porter Hoagland
  • Rebecca J. Gast
  • John Trowbridge
  • Edward R. Sholkovitz
  • Rob Evans
  • Britt Raubenheimer
  • James Lerczak

Deep Ocean and Earth Exploration Institute

  • Henry Dick
  • Dan Fornari
  • Jack Whitehead
  • Jean Whelan
  • Alan Chave
  • Lauren S. Mullineaux

Ocean and Climate Change Institute

  • Mike McCartney
  • Xin Huang
  • Bernadette Sloyan
  • Lloyd Keigwin
  • Delia Oppo
  • Scott Doney

Ocean Life Institute

  • Scott Gallager
  • Heidi Sosik
  • Robert C. Beardsley
  • John Hayes
  • Jesús Pineda
  • Timothy K. Stanton
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