Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
The early spring sunshine set a positive tone for Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey’s visit to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) earlier this month . An entourage including Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rebecca Tepper, local political leaders, and representatives from Woods Hole’s five scientific organizations toured the WHOI dock before hearing Gov. Healey’s remarks on the state’s marine-oriented or “blue” economy and climate resilience.
“We put forward a budget a week ago that really calls for investments in the engagement, the enterprise that WHOI is part of furthering when it comes to addressing issues of climate, when it comes to building our resilience, when it comes to growing a blue economy,” Gov. Healey told a crowd of about 100 people gathered outside the Iselin high bay. “Today, we're having the benefit of hearing from the brilliant minds that explore our oceans. We know you all are part of leading the way.”
WHOI Deputy Director and Vice President for Science and Engineering Rick Murray noted the Institution’s role in the state’s $2.6 billion blue economy and thanked Healey for her leadership in growing that sector. Healey’s administration announced in early March that it would set aside one percent of the state budget – or $544 million– to fund the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, a 24 percent increase over the previous year’s funding.
“The substance of what you're proposing clearly shows your prioritization and recognition that science and technology, research and education, and climate workforce development are critical for the Commonwealth, and indeed the whole country,” said Murray. “So the investments you're making, Governor and Secretary Tepper, are the proverbial rising tide that lifts all boats.”
As part of the tour, Healey and her team visited the vessels, vehicles, and people that make WHOI’s research possible. The governor stopped to chat and shake hands with R/V Tioga Captain Pete Collins and First Mate Jim Missios, and expressed her thanks for their support of water-quality research in Cape Cod Bay.
“We’ve got the best job,” Capt. Collins told the governor.
“I think I’ve got the best job,” Gov. Healey responded. “But I appreciate that.”
After hearing about REMUS autonomous underwater vehicles from Carl Hartsfield at the Oceanographic Systems Laboratory and peering inside an HOV Alvin personnel sphere, Gov. Healey noticed Dive Operations Manager Ed O’Brien and his colleague, Kim Malkoski, walking by in their dive gear. She asked them about their work and was impressed to hear that they dive year-round (the water was 38ºF that day).
“I was PADI certified at one point,” the governor said. “I’m overdue for a dive.”
Next stop, a mooring and anchor system that’s part of the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). OOI principal investigators Al Plueddemann and Jim Edson, with project manager Derek Buffitt, explained that the open-source data collected by the OOI Pioneer Array benefits oceanographic research around the world.
Healey’s team concluded their tour at the Iselin high bay, where engineers Molly Curran and Diana Wickman, respectively, introduced the autonomous robot Mesobot and Slocum glider. Physical oceanographer Steve Jayne also briefly outlined WHOI's contributions to the Argo float program.
During her remarks, Gov. Healey acknowledged WHOI’s ongoing leadership in the local climate adaptation initiative Resilient Woods Hole and the need to rebuild the Iselin dock as sea levels rise.
“We love the work that you're doing. We are so down with your agenda. And this is where we want to invest. This is how we want to lean in,” Gov. Healey said.