Center for Marine Robotics

About the Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, nonprofit institution dedicated to research and education in the ocean sciences and engineering. Founded in 1930, WHOI today has a staff of 1,000 and an operating budget of $170 million. Its operations are funded by the U.S. Government, foundations, industry and private donations.

WHOI is distinguished by its singular focus on ocean science and engineering and by the independence with which its researchers pursue their work. This focus allows WHOI to maintain an unparalleled depth and breadth of scientific and technical talent in oceanographic research and education as well as a reputation for objective, unbiased scientific and technical research. The Institution combines a unique complement of assets, including scientists who study many of the most pressing and complex questions about the relationship between humans and the ocean, engineers who invent and deploy new tools and technology, and research vessels, deep-submergence vehicles, and instruments that provide unparalleled access to the sea.

WHOI’s preeminence spans the traditional disciplines of ocean physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and geophysics. The Institution also operates several interdisciplinary units that focus on issues of societal concern, including climate, the coasts, marine biology and conservation science, deep ocean exploration, human health, marine policy, and fisheries.

WHOI’s engineering and seagoing capabilities have historically presented unmatched tools and methods facilitating ocean science research. Today, the Institution operates two ocean-going research vessels, the R/V Atlantis and Knorr, as part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) and the coastal research vessel R/V Tioga. WHOI is also home to the National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF), which operates deep-sea exploration vehicles for the benefit of the entire U.S. oceanographic community and includes the U.S. Navy-owned Deep Submergence Vehicle (DSV) Alvin, the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason and the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry. In addition, WHOI engineers develop and operate a wide range of other vehicles, such as the REMUS and SeaBED class, that can work under ice, in tunnels, and in environments ranging from coastal regions and harbors to water depths of 6000 meters.

WHOI occupies more than 50 buildings on two campuses in the Woods Hole village of Falmouth, Massachusetts. The Village Campus houses laboratories, shops and marine facilities, including nearly 700 feet of deep-water berthing. The Quissett Campus is a major complex of laboratories and administrative offices that house such world-leading assets as the National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility, the Northeast National Ion Microprobe Facility, a dedicated computed tomography (CT) scanning facility for marine mammal research, and a deep-sea sediment core repository. WHOI also hosts extensive on-site capability for the design, fabrication, and testing of oceanographic instrumentation.

As part of its educational mission, WHOI conducts a joint graduate program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, conferring degrees in oceanography and applied ocean science and engineering. Alumni of the MIT-WHOI Joint Program have gone on to become international leaders in oceanography and regularly return to campus as visiting scholars or for international symposia and colloquia.

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Last updated: April 24, 2013