A new permanent fund to support graduate students at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will be established with a $3 million award from the Stanley W. Watson Foundation.
The fund, to be named the Stanley W. Watson Student Fellowship Fund in honor of the longtime WHOI scientist, will support graduate students at the Institution in their first two years of study.
"Support for students in our Joint Program with MIT and for postdoctoral scholars is a priority within the Institution," said WHOI director Robert B. Gagosian in announcing the grant. "Members of all of our science departments have expressed strong support for securing fellowship funding for the graduate students' first two years, in order to provide them with the freedom and flexibility to choose their thesis topics and advisors while completing their course work at MIT.
"All of us believe that the health and vitality of the Institution depends in large part on maintaining a critical mass of students to keep us competitive and to infuse the labs with the best talent the country has to offer. Stanley Watson advised many students during his long career and was deeply concerned about the support of talented young students who came to WHOI. This grant is a wonderful honor to his memory."
WHOI has 135 students in its Joint Graduate Program, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. More than 550 degrees have been awarded since its inception in 1968, including 136 master's/engineer's degrees and 368 doctoral degrees in the major subdisciplines of ocean sciences and engineering: biological oceanography, chemical oceanography, marine geology and geophysics, physical oceanography, and applied ocean sciences and engineering.
Graduates have gone on to work in academic research and teaching, civilian government positions, military service and the private sector. Thirty-five of the master's/engineer's degree recipients are naval officers who participated in the Joint Program as part of the MIT/WHOI-Secretary of the Navy program started in 1985, while 49 naval officers have graduated from the Joint Program since 1985.
Stanley W. Watson, a microbiologist at the Institution for more than 35 years, died in 1995. During his WHOI career he founded Associates of Cape Cod, a biotechnical firm in Falmouth which supplies a product derived from horseshoe crab blood that is used to test for toxins in pharmaceutical and other medical products.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 28, 1998.