Marguerite McElroy is equally at home on the water or in the lab, having grown up on Waquoit Bay, where her sister and parents still run a shellfish business. When other kids took off on their bikes, Marga headed out in a skiff or beetle cat instead.
After attending Boston University (where she was also a sailing instructor), Marga rejoined WHOI in 1972 to work with the Shipboard Computer Group (she had been a dishwasher for the Biology Department while in high school). Her next assignments were with the Coastal and Ocean Fluid Dynamics Lab, the Ocean Acoustics Lab, and most recently with the Oceanographic Systems Lab (OSL), all within the Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering Department.
It is with the OSL group that she helped oversee construction at the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory and development and training of its operations team. Her duties ran the gamut from securing necessary local, state, and federal permits to overseeing offshore cable laying and coordinating logistics for user deployments.
This broad range of duties mirrors Marga’s zest for learning, which is also apparent in her enthusiastic support of Falmouth schools, fostered, she says, by early WHOI scientist Mary Sears, who chaired the Falmouth School Committee for many years. Marga served for several years as chair of the School Building Needs Committee, which planned renovations of four schools, and she is currently vice chair of the Falmouth High School Building Committee, which will oversee a major overhaul of that school beginning this spring.
Prior to the inception of the Woods Hole Science and Technology Education Program (WHSTEP), Marga established and ran a “day of science” program for Falmouth Academy, and she currently manages the K–6 portion of the Falmouth Community Science Fair. Whether on a boat, on the dock, in an ocean engineering lab, or in a class or committee room, Marga relishes the opportunity to share her knowledge and skills while eagerly seeking to learn more.
Originally published: April 1, 2005