Ocean Currents 7/26/22

Ocean Currents Main Image from Earth Wind Map

Welcome Christine Chesley

Dr. Christine Chesley has accepted our offer and will join the faculty in 2024 after she finishes her postdoctoral research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Christine uses electromagnetic data to model resistivity of the oceanic crust and mantle. This type of data is particularly sensitive to fluid and melt phases within more resistive rock. Among other uses, this sensitivity allows electromagnetic geophysicists such as Christine to constrain important properties of the subsurface that relate to earthquakes and other volcanic hazards. Read about her recent work on the northern Hikurangi Margin, New Zealand.

Grads and Undergrads: Apply for the Leo Cup

It's time to consider applying, either individually or as a group, for this year's Leo Cup. Applicants are encouraged to speak to last year's winner, Georges Kanaan, or to Michelle, Evelyn, or Rick, about the application process. The prize is $40,000 toward your research. DEADLINE is Monday, September 12, 2022.

Spotlight on UW's retired research ships

You hopefully noticed the wonderful new story on our website about the R/V Clifford Barnes and its new life down in the Bay area. Thanks Lauren Bayne, for this wonderful story and for reaching out to the new owners and interviewing them.  

Our school has a long history of interesting boats. Here is a little about our first research vessel. The M/V Catalyst, the University of Washington’s first oceanographic research vessel, was constructed in 1931 at the Lake Union Dry Dock Company in Seattle via a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The vessel was designed by Roland and Strickland, prominent Seattle naval architects. The design was largely based on the experiences of the University’s scientists who had suffered through many research expeditions aboard poorly equipped converted fishing boats. Every aspect of her construction, from the location of the engine to the size of the vessel, was centered around the needs of the laboratory scientists. As a result of her careful design, Catalyst rolled down the ways on her launching day as the most state-of-the-art research vessel of her time. She was completed in June of 1932 and took her maiden cruise through the Inside Passage and across the Gulf of Alaska. She spent the next eleven years collecting data, primarily in Puget Sound. The information collected from the decks of Catalyst in the 1930s formed the foundation for today’s understanding of the region’s water quality. The bombs that fell on Pearl Harbor during WWII soon had an effect on the M/V Catalyst. In 1942, the Catalyst was acquired by the US Navy to help in the war effort. The Navy conscripted the vessel and mounted a machine gun on top of her pilot house and racks of depth charges on her stern. She spent the war years patrolling the Aleutian Islands for Japanese submarines. After the war, the Navy sold Catalyst as surplus. 

The Catalyst still plies our local waters, and you can read about her journey since her time at UW. If you fancy, you can even sail aboard the M/V Catalyst up to Alaska.


Ocean Currents is a weekly bulletin of news and upcoming events for the UW School of Oceanography. If you have news or stories to contribute, please contact Su Tipple.

News & Events