United Nations
International Capacity Building in Ocean Science and Technology
by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Academic institution)
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), a leading independent research organization devoted to ocean science and engineering, reaffirms its commitment to the free and open exchange throughout the world of knowledge and expertise in ocean research. To this end, WHOI maintains numerous international partnerships and agreements supporting multi-national research programs around the globe.

Specifically, WHOI will continue to provide opportunities for knowledge transfer and capacity building in developing States via the Mary Sears Visitor Program. This was established by a bequest from Mary Sears, and intended to provide an exchange of "information about oceanography to nations where it is not otherwise available". Mary Sears was herself a major pioneer of oceanography. One of WHOIs first scientists, she conducted pioneering work on ocean plankton, taught at Harvard and Wellesley, was founding editor of a major scientific journal, and principal organizer of the first International Oceanographic Congress of the United Nations in 1959. She served in the US Navy during World War II, providing critical oceanographic data to the Hydrographic Office. As a Lieutenant, Sears became the first Oceanographer of the Navy, a post now held by Admirals. In 2000 the Navy named its newest oceanographic survey ship the USNS Mary Sears.

WHOI continues to honor this heritage with the Mary Sears Visitor Program. Over the last 15 years, it has made more than 70 awards, bringing aspiring ocean scientists to WHOI from around the world, and helping to launch significant international research collaborations. The program is endowed and will be maintained in perpetuity. Beginning in 2017, award amounts are being increased by 50%. Information about the Mary Sears Visitor Program is maintained at: http://www.whoi.edu/DoR/internal-funding/calls-for-proposals/mary-sears-visitor-awards.
Progress reports
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Scientific, socioeconomic and interdisciplinary research
  • Research capacity development
  • Training and professional development
  • Scientific cooperation
May 2017
Award of 4 to 5 new Visitor Program grants
Financing (in USD)
40,000 USD
Basic information
Time-frame: January 2002 - December 2030
Participating Universities and Institutions in 35 countries to date.
Ocean Basins
  • Global
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Laurence Madin, Deputy Director and Vice President for Research, lmadin@whoi.edu, 1-508-289-2515
Woods Hole, Massachusetts USA
Other SDGs
United Nations