The Doherty Professorship
The Doherty Professorship  

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The History

The Doherty Professorship in Ocean Utilization was established through a generous grant from the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation, Inc. of Darien, Connecticut. The professorship, awarded to promising junior faculty, is a much sought-after prize at MIT. Young scientists embarking upon programs of innovative marine research often have difficulty obtaining funds from traditional sources. The Doherty Professorship provides a one- to two-year stipend to young faculty as they pursue new ideas and gives them the freedom to experiment. It is a formula for success. As noted by Kenneth A. Smith, Gilliland Professor in MIT's Department of Chemical Engineering, "Recipients of the Doherty Professorship have managed to turn ideas into technologies, developing better ways to use the world's oceans."

Though ocean utilization is a common theme, the recipients' research has been varied, ranging from red tide to deep sea cables; from modeling ocean waves to DNA monitoring of coastal contaminants; from the mechanics of ice to the control of autonomous underwater vehicles. Many of these research programs are little more than ideas at their inception, but thanks to this professorship most mature to fully funded programs of marine research.

The Doherty Professorship was established under the direction of Professor Ira Dyer when he was the head of the Department of Ocean Engineering and director of the MIT Sea Grant College Program. MIT has selected MIT Sea Grant to administer the grants for the Doherty awards, in keeping with the vision of the first Sea Grant Director, Alfred Keil, who saw Sea Grant as an interdisciplinary program of ocean research. This philosophy, which has been espoused by subsequent directors, is evident in the design of Sea Grant activities. The Doherty Foundation also helped MIT establish its Sea Grant Program and increased the Institute's participation in the National Sea Grant College Program through a grant in 1971.

The Doherty Foundation, established in the memory of the founder of the Cities Service Co. and his late wife, is principally devoted to supporting and encouraging the development of national resources related to the oceans and the coasts. "The Sea Grant Program is very grateful to the Doherty Foundation for their generous support," states MIT Sea Grant Director Chrys Chryssostomidis. He adds, "We hope they share our pride in the excellence of these individuals and their accomplishments."

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