New Chief Scientist Appointed for Key Woods Hole Facility

Anna Michel appointed chief of NDSFf of

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), a world leader in ocean exploration, discovery, and education, has named a new Chief Scientist for Deep Submergence (CSDS) for its National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF). Dr. Anna Michel, an associate scientist in the Department of Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering, will be the first woman to serve in this high-profile role effective July 1, 2021.

The CSDS role places Michel at the forefront of deep submergence for the academic research community, working as a liaison to connect scientists with the WHOI teams that operate the NDSF underwater vehicles. The CSDS helps ensure that the NDSF meets the needs of the user community, provides project planning advice, and manages the process for post-cruise assessment. The CSDS also plays a key role in shaping the future of deep submergence through the NDSF.

“I am looking forward to applying my experience to help support this important, collaborative program,” Michel said. “The work of the NDSF enables the oceanographic community to explore, sample, and map the deep ocean, and it is exciting to be able to work with scientists on how best to support their research projects.”

“This new position also allows me to continue to be a listener in the community. I’m interested in establishing initiatives that would bring more diversity to deep ocean science, and to find ways to improve and advance technology in terms of computer science integration, artificial intelligence, and new sensor systems,” Michel added.

According to Rob Munier, WHOI’s Vice President for Marine Facilities and Operations, “Anna balances her work in the lab with frequent sea time plus a host of activities related to education and diversification of ocean science and engineering, all of which have earned her the respect of the community. We look forward to her new leadership role.”

Michel graduated with her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering in 2007.  In 2012, she began her career as an assistant scientist at WHOI. As an associate scientist, she went on to lead the Chemical Sensors Laboratory, which works on developing new sensors for studying ocean chemistry, including methane sensing, carbon dioxide sensing, and microplastics sensing.

The NDSF operates, maintains and coordinates WHOI’s three deep ocean vehicles including:

  • The human-occupied vehicle (HOV) Alvin
  • The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason/Medea
  • The autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry

The NDSF is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and hosted at WHOI. Its operation is overseen by the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), an organization of 58 academic institutions and national laboratories involved in marine research.

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