Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Timothy K Stanton
Tim Stanton's photoTimothy K Stanton

Contact Information:
Fax: +1 508 457 2194

Mailing Address:

Overview of my research

I study the physics of the acoustical scattering by complex objects. The research has been principally focused on acoustic scattering by marine organisms, such as zooplankton and fish, although I have also studied acoustic scattering by the seafloor, sea ice, and microstructure. In order to address the complexities of this important topic, I develop analytical physics-based models, conduct laboratory experiments, and conduct at-sea experiments. The complexity lies in the fact that the acoustic "targets" are normally quite irregular in shape. Consider, for example, euphausiids that have the shape of shrimp, or pteropods that have the shape of a snail. Exact mathematical models of scattering normally involve a simple shape such as a sphere or infinitely long cylinder. However, predictions of scattering by such simple objects sometimes deviate significantly from the scattering by the actual irregular objects. My research is therefore focused on developing accurate (approximate) scattering models by realistic objects. Given the challenges associated with modeling realistic objects, I keep the development of the models grounded with laboratory data. In collaboration with biologists, I apply the models to data collected at sea where acoustics is used as one of the tools for characterizing distributions of marine life.

Signal processing is also integral to the research as the scattering analyses are both in the spectral and time domains, and involve matched filter processing and echo statistics.  The scattering by objects in the ocean is stochastic and I have connected fundamental physical scattering processes to key parameters of the echo statistics.  As a result, the statistical formulations are predictive and are based on known properties of the scatterer, sonar system, and propagation environment.

Links to summaries of my research:

1986 Stanton, T.K. and C.S. Clay, "Sonar echo statistics as a remote sensing tool: Volume and Sea Floor, " IEEE J. Oceanic Eng. OE-11, 79-96.  Much work has been done on this topic since—see, for example, Stanton et al. (2004), Stanton and Chu (2010), and Chu and Stanton (2010).

2000 Stanton, T.K. and D. Chu, “Review and recommendations for modeling of acoustic scattering by fluid-like elongated zooplankton: Euphausiids and copepods ,” ICES J. Mar. Sci. 57(4), 793-807.

2009 Stanton, T.K., “Broadband acoustic sensing of the ocean,” J. Marine Acoustic. Soc. Jpn. 36, 95-107.  This includes a summary of our scattering model development.

2012 Stanton, T.K., “30 years of advances in active bioacoustics: A personal perspective,“ Methods in Oceanography, doi:10.1016/j.mio.2012.07.002, 49-77.  This comes with a video presentation summarizing the paper.

Press Release on Fish Acoustics Research. 

Some details of the research Why acoustics? 

Opportunities for students in my laboratory WHOI is an accredited institution of higher education.  To date, more than 700 advanced degrees have been awarded by WHOI.   Most of the degrees have been doctoral and the rest are at the masters level.  Most of the advanced degrees are through the joint graduate education program between MIT and WHOI.  At any given time, I advise 1-3 doctoral or masters graduate students.  I welcome applications from students from a variety of backgrounds, including Physics, Applied Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering.  The deadline for applications to the graduate program is normally in early January of each year.  However, it is vital to contact me much earlier to discuss your interests.  For more details on the graduate program and application, see the following website:

WHOI Education

B.S. Physics, Oakland University, 1974;  M.S. Physics, Brown University, 1976; Ph.D. Physics, Brown University, 1978

© Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
All rights reserved