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Nominations open for Doherty Professorship in Ocean Utilization

Deadline for submission is Nov. 12.
The MIT Sea Grant College Program is now accepting nominations for the Doherty Professorship in Ocean Utilization, a two-year chair for promising, non-tenured professors to undertake marine-related research that will further innovative uses of the ocean's resources.

All non-tenured MIT faculty members from any Institute department are eligible, and department heads may submit one nomination every year. The appointee will receive $25,000 per year for two years, beginning July 1, 2011. The deadline for nominations is Nov. 12.

Endowed by the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation, the chair has no restrictions on areas of research, and any aspect of marine use and/or management may be addressed — whether social, political, environmental, economic or technical.

Final selection will be made by a committee that includes the vice president and dean for research, the dean of engineering, the dean of science, the chairman of the Sea Grant Committee and the director of the MIT Sea Grant College Program, following a review and recommendation from the full Sea Grant Committee. The vice president and dean for research will announce the new Doherty Professor in January 2010. While serving as the Doherty Assistant or Associate Professor of Ocean Utilization, the incumbent cannot hold another MIT-funded chair.

In 2010, the award went to Janelle Thompson for her research on the host-associated microbial communities (microbiome) in corals, their activity in response to environmental stress, and relationship to lesions caused by White Plague disease. This timely piece of research addresses the current rates of coral decline worldwide and the urgent need to understand how environmental factors may be linked to coral health.

Thompson's hypothesis is that coral health can be explained by the activity of the microbiome. Her research focuses on corals found off the coast of Brazil in the Androlhos Bank (Mussismilia brazilienses), and will be carried out in collaboration with colleagues from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Support from the Doherty Professorship will enable her to pursue detailed diagnostic tests on specimens of healthy, diseased and incubated coral specimens obtained during expeditions planned for 2010 and 2011.

Anyone wishing to be nominated should contact his or her department head for procedures and selection criteria. Please contact Kathy de Zengotita for more information, Room E38-330, 617-253-7042,

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