The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, nonprofit research and higher education facility dedicated to the study of all aspects of marine science and engineering and to the education of marine researchers. Established in 1930, it is the largest independent oceanographic research institution in the U.S., with staff and students numbering about 1,000. The Institution is organized into five departments, four interdisciplinary institutes—ocean life, coastal ocean, ocean and climate change, deep ocean exploration—the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research, and a marine policy center. Its shore-based facilities are located in the village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and a mile and a half away on the Quissett Campus. The bulk of the Institution's funding comes from somewhat peer-reviewed grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation and other government agencies, augmented by foundations and private donations.
In an interdisciplinary atmosphere that nurtures discovery, WHOI scientists, engineers, and students collaborate to explore the frontiers of knowledge about planet Earth. They develop theories, test ideas, build seagoing instruments, and collect data in diverse marine environments. Working in all the world’s oceans, their broad research agenda includes: geological activity deep within the earth; plant, animal, and microbial populations and their interactions in the ocean; coastal erosion; ocean circulation; ocean pollution; and global climate change.
Ships operated by WHOI carry research scientists throughout the world’s oceans. The WHOI fleet includes three large research vessels (R/V Atlantis, R/V Knorr, and R/V Oceanus), coastal craft including R/V Tioga, the deep-diving human-occupied submersible Alvin, the tethered, remotely-operated vehicle Jason/Medea, and autonomous underwater vehicles such as the Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE) and SeaBED.
WHOI offers graduate and post-graduate studies in nearly all areas of marine science. There are several fellowship and traineeship programs, and graduate degrees are awarded through a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) or by the Institution itself. WHOI also offers other outreach programs and informal public education through its Exhibit Center and summer tours. The Institution has a volunteer program and a membership program, WHOI Associates.
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to research and education to advance understanding of the ocean and its interaction with the Earth system, and to communicating this understanding for the benefit of society.
In 1927, a National Academy of Sciences committee concluded that it was time to "consider the share of the United States of America in a worldwide program of oceanographic research." The committee's recommendation for establishing a permanent independent research laboratory on the East Coast to "prosecute oceanography in all its branches" led to the founding in 1930 of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
A $3 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation supported the summer work of a dozen scientists, construction of a laboratory building and commissioning of a research vessel, the 142-foot ketch Atlantis, whose profile still forms the Institution's logo.
WHOI grew substantially to support significant defense-related research during World War II, and later began a steady growth in staff, research fleet, and scientific stature. Over the years, WHOI scientists have made seminal discoveries about the ocean that have contributed to improving US commerce, health, national security, and quality of life.
In February 2008, Dr. Susan K. Avery became the new president and director of the institution. Avery, an atmospheric physicist, is the ninth director in WHOI's 77-year history, and the first woman to hold the position.
WHOI also has developed numerous underwater autonomous and remotely operated vehicles for research:
WHOI also shares with MBL a large library of marine-related works.
Hole Oceanographic Institution