San Diego Special Sessions


Special Session (T2): Panel Discussion – The Role of Marine Robotics in Supporting a Sustainable Blue Economy

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2021, 1530-1650

Location: Town & Country Ballroom A


Session Convener:  Jake Sobin, Sales Manager, Ocean Science Sensors and Robotics, Kongsberg Underwater Technology

Moderator: Dr. Gwen Nero, Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UCSD <>


  1. Andrew Ziegwied (Saildrone)
  2. Dr. Katherine Zaba, MRV Systems
  3. Steve Brodet, Kongsberg
  4. Clara Hulburt, Teledyne
  5. Josh Wells, Planck Aerosystems


Session Summary:

The past two decades has witnessed major developments from the underwater technology industry in the field of marine robotics.  Marine robotics have emerged as a key enabling technology for addressing complex and challenging missions at sea, which offer solutions that cannot be achieved through conventional methods.

Advancements in ocean data collection and analysis have been supported by marine robotics, which in turn has been documented as essential in supporting a sustainable ocean economy.

This session will examine the link between the increasing market demand for marine robotics and the estimated ocean economy of $3.6trn a year.  Why is the field of robotics an important component to the blue economy?

This panel discussion will invite industry leaders in the field of marine robotics to address the following questions:

1) What role can industry play in helping foster a sustainable ocean economy?

  1. How is your company contributing to a sustainable ocean economy?
  2. Examples?

2) How has academic, government, and industry partnerships supported the advancement of marine


  1. How can these partnerships help power the Blue Economy?
  2. Examples?
  3. Any barriers and/or challenges?

3) Where do we need to get to in the next 10, 20 years…?

  1. What are the barriers to getting there?





Successful Careers While Operating in the Covid19 Environment, MTS Early Career Ocean Professionals and IEEE OES Young Professionals Special Session Breakfast

Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 7:00 AM – 8:30 AM (PST)

Location: Town & Country – Pacific Room H&I


Session Summary:

MTS welcomes graduate students and Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOP) to join this breakfast to meet some of the leadership at MTS, as well as our industry, academia, and government partners. Come to enjoy a breakfast where you will have an opportunity to ask questions about career opportunities, career development, and how to best navigate this transition phase. Given the limited space (56 potential attendees), we ask you to RSVP using the following link. Registration will be validated on a first come, first serve basis. We will prioritize students and ECOP, although others are welcome to attend if there is enough availability. Please select up to 2 options about which sector you would like to be seated with. The organizers will try our best to accommodate you with your first or second choice.

Limited seating.  RSVP required link.




Special Session (W1): The UN Ocean Decade: Sustaining Our Future for the Next 10 Years and Beyond

Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 0855-1015

Location: Town & Country Ballroom A


Session Convener:  Ben Maurer, NREL

Moderator: Craig McLean – Assistant Administrator NOAA Research & Member Decade Interim Advisory Board


  1. Julian Barbiere – Head, Marine Policy and Regional Implementation Section IOC
  2. Margaret Leinen – Honorary Chair of MTS San Diego Conference, Director of Scripps Institute of Oceanography & Member Decade Interim Advisory Board
  3. Jerome Aucan -Head Pacific Community Centre for Ocean Sciences (PCCOS)
  4. Hannah Toerner – Officer for Communications at the MTS ECOP Section, and the 2020’s recipient for the Ocean News and Technology Young Professional Award
  5. David Millar – FUGRO Government Accounts Director, Americas


Session Summary:

– Highlight synergies between government (national and intergovernmental), academia, and industry in achieving the outcomes of the UN Decade

– Highlight the success of the first round of endorsed Decade actions in spurring the community to action, and inspiring further contributions

– Panelists will outline the process, scale, and scope of “thinking big” for the Decade.




Special Session (W2): Expert Panel: Discussion on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) in Marine Technology

Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 1330-1450

Location: Town & Country Ballroom A


Session Convener:  Zdenka Willis, MTS

Session Co-convener:  Kristina Norman and Josh Kohut, MTS


  1. Ben Cuker, Hampton University
  2. Lonnie Gonsalves, NOAA
  3. Abigail Hils, AAAS
  4. Brandon Jones NSF


Session Summary:

Through a special session at OCEANS 2021: San Diego – Porto, the Marine Technology Society (MTS) seeks to engage the marine technology community in a discussion of diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion. We at MTS are dedicated to manifesting a global society where every person feels they truly belong and are safe to be their authentic selves; and where every person is treated with dignity and respect. As a diverse and international society, MTS is committed to helping build and strengthen an inclusive environment. But to do so, we must meet the issues of racism and inequality head-on. This requires all of us to have conversations about racism, privilege, misogyny, power, and access – and then to have the courage to make changes that will help create an environment that ensures all people are valued for their inherent worth and treated with justice and dignity.

This Town Hall will discuss the policies and practices that organizations can implement to support a more diverse, equitable, just, and inclusive community. It will feature a panel of experts who will provide their unique perspectives of effective and needed practices that engage a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Following the panel presentations, the attendees and panelists will be organized into small groups of 8-10 people. The groups will explore ways in which the policies and practices discussed during the panel with prompting questions will steer the discussion toward specific action individuals can take.  The group leaders will assemble comments and ideas for presentation at the close of the Town Hall.




Special Session (W3): Workshop: Town Hall: Opportunities for Marine Technology in Offshore Wind Development

Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 1530-1650

Location: Town & Country Ballroom A


Session Convener:  Ruth Perry

Session Co-convener:  Justin Manley


    1. Jeremy Potter, BOEM
    2. Nicole LeBoeuf, NOAA
    3. Alicia Mahon PNNL
    4. Ed Saade, Fugro
    5. Travis Miles, Rutgers
    6. Dave Jones, Saildrone


Session Summary:

Offshore wind is a rapidly growing sector of the global and national Blue Economy.  Offshore wind installations are accelerating across the globe, with forecasts projecting from 65 to 100 GW operational between 2023 and 2025.  Deployments are expected to increase in the United Kingdom, France, Asia and the United States.  The United States is anticipated to become one of the largest offshore markets in 2024 with 1.7 million acres under lease with more than 1,500 foundations to be installed.  Balance of offshore wind development with other ocean users and resources presents unique opportunities for early relationship building and emerging reliance on new science and data programs to support co-existence. Workshops across the European and U.S. networks are building coordination and helping to identify research gaps and frameworks to map how those gaps can be filled with monitoring and research.  Funding opportunities are also increasing to support research, with a major focus on establishing pre-construction baselines.  The rapidly evolving technologies, significant amount of construction and operations support, regulatory monitoring, and broader investigations of how offshore wind installations could affect ocean environments and ecosystems presents unique opportunities for the marine technology sector.   Attendees of the marine technology community will learn the scope of what is happening within the industry, the offshore platform designs that offer general autonomy from marine species and marine habitat, and the potential opportunities for small business supporting offshore renewable energy, including required monitoring of operations and maintenance activities.





Special Session (TH1): Tech Demo: Instrument Configuration and Data Management Using RBR Ruskin Software Tools.

Date: Thursday, September 23, 2021, 0840-1000

Location: Town & Country Ballroom A


Session Convener:  Daniel Nelson, RBR


  1. Greg Johnson, President of RBR
  2. Mat Dever, Research Scientist, RBR & WHOI


Session Summary:

The oceanographic tech industry has come a long way in improving how users interact with their instruments and data. It is possible to have a straightforward user experience with software on the operating system of your choice.

RBR has invested heavily in recent years in software tools to help users more easily configure instruments, manage deployments, and process data. This session will cover intermediate and advanced topics in the Ruskin desktop software (Windows and macOS), the Ruskin mobile app (iOS and Android), the RSK data format based on SQlite, and the RSKtools post-processing toolbox for Matlab and Python.

The session will include in-person and interactive topics, as well as a remote session and Q&A with RBR oceanographers and technical experts.

Attendees will learn about:

  • instrument and software tools available from RBR;
  • pre-deployment planning and time-saving tips in the Ruskin software;
  • maximizing the features of the Ruskin mobile app;
  • managing data and improving CTD data quality with RSKtools, a free post-processing toolbox for Matlab and Python;
  • instrument management and troubleshooting within the Ruskin software.

The session will conclude with an informal Q&A session and discussion.




Town Hall: Women Leadership in Ocean Science and Technology

Date: Thursday, September 23, 2021, 1:00 PM – 2:20 PM (PST)

Location:  Town & Country – Pacific Room H&I


Session Convenor: Liesl Hotaling, Vice President of Publications and Communications, MTS


  1. Erin Keen, SeaBird Scientific
  2. Jyotika Virmani, Schmidt Ocean Institute
  3. Cheryl Peach, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  4. Kristen C. Koch, Science and Research Director, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center (invited)



This Town Hall, open to all career levels and genders, will investigate how community organizations can advance change in obtaining gender parity.  The special session will feature a guest speaker and panel focused on this question and explore how these recommendations, and other efforts underway, impact women aiming for leadership positions in academia, as well as in non-academic careers.  Group discussion will be designed to address how community organizations and large research programs can better support women working in ocean sciences at the early- and mid-career levels, as they further their careers and become the next generation of leaders.




Special Session (TH2): Connected Oceans with Bristlemouth: Bridging Public and Private Sector to launch Open Standard

Date: Thursday, September 23, 2021, 1040-1200

Location: Town & Country Ballroom A


Session Convener:  Blanche Minoza, MissionC2

Session Co-convener:  Caroline Venza, MissionC2

Moderators:  Liesl Hotaling, Vice President of Publications and Communications, MTS

Justin Manley, President-Elect MTS


  1. Mike Wardlaw, Program Manager, ONR
  2. John Waterston, Program Manager, DARPA
  3. Jason Thompson, CTO, Oceankind
  4. Tim Janssen, CEO, Sofar Ocean


Session Summary:

Data and technology are the backbone of the blue economy. All sectors (shipping, fishing, energy, minerals, tourism, etc.) rely on data and new marine technologies to support services and supply chains; for prediction of ocean and atmospheric weather conditions; and to generate new, information-based solutions, which are critical to understand, and sustainably interact with, our ocean environment. Technological innovations that are accessible, relevant and scalable are necessary to achieve the next level of blue economy growth, but innovation and scaling in marine sensing has been severely hampered by the lack of suitable connectivity standards. Development and successful adoption of such standards require open and active collaboration between academia, industry, philanthropy and government organizations.

The panel conversation between members from industry, philanthropy and government organizations will discuss the benefits of open standards and connectivity for ocean intelligence, and how the sectors are collaborating to drive critical technology development for our oceans. In particular, we will discuss the development and launch of the Bristlemouth connectivity standard, a new open standard for marine connectivity. The Bristlemouth connectivity standard aims to emulate the development of universally-used technologies such as USB and CubeSat.

We will also discuss the Ocean Community Ecosystem And Networked Society (OCEANS) 2.0 program that will serve as an aggregator of relevant stakeholders to develop independent open protocols and facilitate the introduction of ocean technology to the user ecosystem (industry, government and academia) which powers the blue economy.

The conveners are planning two key events to be announced at this Oceans 2021 MTS/IEEE Special Session:

-The launch of Bristlemouth, an open-source “undersea USB” standard for ocean intelligence, and

-The winner of the Forecasting Floats in Turbulence (FFT) competition hosted by DARPA in

collaboration with Sofar. This competition distributes $50K in prize money to winners of the ocean

float position prediction challenge.




Special Session (TH3): Expert Panel: Hadal-class UUVs (Gliders, Landers, AUV, ROV)

Date: Thursday, September 23, 2021, 13:30-14:50

Location: Town & Country Ballroom A


Session co-conveners: Kevin Hardy, Global Ocean Design

Barbara Fletcher, NIWC

Moderator:  Barbara Fletcher, NIWC


  1. Dr. Weicheng Cui, Westlake University, Hangzhou, China
  2. Dr. Shuxin Wang, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China
  3. Tim Shank, WHOI, Woods Hole, MA
  4. Kevin Hardy, DSc (hc), Global Ocean Design LLC, San Diego, CA


Session Summary:

Until the most recent times of history, ocean trenches were “unfathomable.”  But the great halls of the hadal sea are beginning to open to scientific investigation by nations around the globe.  Join this session to hear about some of the advances in technology that is allowing robotic vehicles the freedom to explore this unique environment: witnessing firsthand the geologic forces still very much at work, the ocean chemistry within the trench, and the animals who have found it to their liking.  Chile, China, Germany, Japan, UK, and USA have designed, built and successfully deployed unmanned undersea hadal vehicles including ocean landers, AUVS, ROVs, and now, gliders.

Panelists will discuss:

Weicheng Cui, Westlake University:  Presentation of the design and successful sea trials of the full ocean depth ARV “Dream Chaser” in the Mariana Trench, December 2020.

Dr. Shuxin Wang, Tianjin University: Petrel-X glider, is a full ocean depth glider that utilizes a dual-buoyancy-driven mechanism to adjust buoyancy and pitch angle simultaneously. The dynamic model integrates changes in seawater integrating the influences of environmental parameters and change in displaced volume of the glider.  In July 2020, the Petrel-X glider “Haiyan” successfully dove to 10,600 m in the Mariana Trench.  The national laboratory has since been developing a series of Petrel gliders capable of working at depths ranging from 200 m to depths in excess of 10,000 m.  The unmanned gliders can survey marine conditions, such as temperature, salinity and currents in large bodies of water over a long period of time. The Petrel-X gliders mark an important breakthrough for the advancement of China’s undersea scientific expedition program.

Tim Shank, WHOI:  Orpheus is both the new class of autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) capable of reaching the ocean’s greatest depths and the first vehicle of the class. Two identical Orpheus AUVs were built in 2018, named Orpheus and Eurydice after the famous pair from Greek mythology who adventured through the depths of Hades. The design of Orpheus is based on proven technology to minimize construction, shipping, and operational costs that permit it to be launched from small research vessels as well as ships of opportunity. In addition, it incorporates control and mapping software developed by the Jet Propulsion Lab that enables new performance standards than conventional AUV technology and eventually, the ability to reconfigure its objectives on-the-fly. Four fixed-directional thrusters and a compact shape make Orpheus nimble, permitting it to explore near the seafloor, land to collect samples, and lift off again to continue its mission.

Kevin Hardy, Global Ocean Design:  Discussion of scientific applications of unmanned ocean landers in hadal research, including sampling and sensing, and use as a test platform for more advanced unmanned vehicle classes.  Example Deep Ocean Vehicles (DOV) will include DOV Audacia (IMO/Chile, Atacama Trench), DOV Mike (DSC, New Britain Trench, Mariana Trench/Challenger Deep, Sirena Deep), DOV Mary Carol (Scripps, Aleutian Trench, Puerto Rico Trench), DOV Bobby Ray (Scripps, Puerto Rico Trench), and smaller but full ocean depth capable ocean landers, DOV BEEBE, DOV MUNK, DOV JEAN, and DOV LEVIN (all Scripps), and other landers in use.



Women’s Luncheon

Featured Speaker: Dr. Margaret Leinen, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Women’s Town Hall:
Ms. Erin Keen, Field Sales Support, Sea-Bird Scientific
Dr. Cheryl Peach, Academic Coordinator, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Dr. Jyotika Virmani, Executive Director, Schmidt Ocean Institute
Ms. Kristen C. Koch, Science and Research Director, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center (invited)