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Jim Broda

Jim Broda grew up in a small steel town up the river and in the shadow of Pittsburgh. With a 1970 bachelor's degree from Penn State in mineral economics, he landed a job as a chef on Cape Cod. He learned about WHOI, visited then-personnel manager Bruce Crawford, and next thing he knew, he was hauling carboys of secondarily treated effluent from Rhode Island for John Ryther's aquaculture project to nourish shellfish with plankton grown in seawater and sewage. In 1973, Broda moved to the Geology & Geophysics Department and joined his first cruise, a six-month expedition in the South Atlantic aboard Chain. In the past 30 years, he has been on more than 90 oceanographic cruises and has collected thousands of deep-sea core and dredge samples from all over the globe. During his career, he has developed large-diameter piston coring systems for a dozen ships in the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System, Coast Guard icebreakers, and National Science Foundation Antarctic fleets. He also designed, built, and deployed sampling systems for remote lakes ranging from 13,000 feet in the Andes to one on a wilderness island in Lake Superior. For more than 15 years, Broda worked with seismologists engaged in crustal refraction experiments and was part of a team of engineers that created NOBEL (the Near Bottom Ocean Explosives Launcher), an instrument that for the first time allowed the detonation of multiple high-explosive charges on the seafloor. As curator of the WHOI seafloor samples collection, Broda manages a library that doesn’t house any books; just tons and tons of mud and rocks. He lives in West Falmouth, in a house he “pretty much built,” he said. “There must be a stud from the original cottage in there somewhere.”


(Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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