July 19, 2011

MIT Sea Grant mourns colleague Harriet Webster of Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center

PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Nancy Adams, nadamsx@mit.edu, 617 253-3461

Cambridge, MA, May 20 – MIT Sea Grant director, Chrys Chryssostomidis, and his staff mourn longtime collaborator and colleague, Harriet Webster, who died June 23 of complications from myelodysplastic syndrome. Ms. Webster was the executive director of the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center (GMHC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of Gloucester’s ocean-faring history and supporting marine sciences. GMHC housed MIT Sea Grant’s aquaculture demonstration project for eight years and was host to many MIT Sea Grant education and outreach programs.

A Gloucester resident for 41 years, Ms. Webster became director of the then fledgling Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center in 2002. Under her direction, the Heritage Center underwent major facilities development and expanded its programs for adults and young people, currently serving over 3,000 students per year.

MIT Sea Grant educational consultant, Brandy Wilbur, met Harriet at GMHC just as she began her tenure there as Executive Director. They discussed areas for partnership and found that MIT Sea Grant could add to the Center’s mission by providing active, ongoing scientific research on site while GMHC could connect MIT Sea Grant to the local fishing community and educators. Less than a year later, MIT Sea Grant opened its finfish aquaculture project. The relationship between the two organizations grew to include an eelgrass restoration project, a school program connecting young students with fishermen and their crews, summer internship programs, and joint fundraising.

Brandy comments, “Harriet was dedicated and passionate about integrating science and education in Gloucester. A vital partner to MIT Sea Grant through the years, she was also a valued friend to me and will be missed greatly.”

A memorial endowment fund is being set up in Harriet Webster’s name. Please send contributions to Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center, Harriet Webster Memorial Fund, 23 Harbor Loop, Gloucester, MA 01930.

About MIT Sea Grant
The mission of the MIT Sea Grant College Program is to employ innovative research, education and outreach strategies to responsibly use and sustain the vital marine resources of Massachusetts. The issues we address manifest locally but many are global in nature. Compelling challenges demand our attention as a solo entity and in partnership with other groups living and working on the coasts and at sea. MIT Sea Grant brings the substantial intellectual abilities of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and our sister universities to bear on ocean-related challenges requiring an extraordinary technical contribution. In meeting these challenges, we expand human understanding of the ocean and establish the infrastructure to sustain the initiatives and talent pool needed to address complex issues of critical and fragile marine resources.

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Harriet Webster of Gloucester Martime Heritage Center

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