As an avid scuba diver, Lora Van Uffelen has been exploring the world’s waters for years. The opportunity to pursue her passion by conducting underwater research was a large incentive for her to join URI’s Ocean Engineering faculty last fall.
“I was looking for an institution that was supportive of field work with access to oceanographic research vessels and equipment,” explained Van Uffelen. “Also, the dynamic faculty seemed to be a good for me and I was very impressed with the students.”
Van Uffelen arrived at URI in October of 2016. It’s unusual for someone to begin employment mid-semester, but the assistant professor was conducting research earlier in the fall in the Arctic Ocean aboard the Coast Guard Cutter HEALY, the United States’ newest and most technologically advanced polar icebreaker.
Currently, Van Uffelen is studying long-range ocean acoustic propagation and scattering. The research project is funded by the Office of Naval Research.
“I’m looking at new ways to model the scattering of sound by internal waves in the ocean,” stated Van Uffelen. “As part of this work, I am deploying Seagliders in the Arctic Ocean to study how sound travels in the changing Arctic environment. This work has application to the future of underwater navigation of vehicles as a pre-cursor to underwater GPS.”
Recently, Van Uffelen and fellow URI Ocean Engineering professors James Miller and Gopu Potty, received funding from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to do acoustic monitoring of marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico.
Van Uffelen looks forward to working closely with other URI professors.
“I would love to collaborate with other faculty members on developing acoustic capabilities for oceanographic instrumentation, including gliders and other autonomous underwater vehicles,” said the professor.