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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is currently searching for a Research Associate to join the Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering Department in the Marine Animal Remote Sensing Lab ( . This is a regular, full-time, non-exempt position, and is eligible for full benefits.


The ideal candidate will participate in the development and evaluation of an instrument to conduct autonomous line transect distance sampling surveys of whale populations in the north-east Atlantic Ocean. The instrument is based on an existing thermal imaging-based whale detection system. Research will be field focused and extended stays at sea will be required.


The internal working title of this position will be Research Associate II.

Essential Functions

  • Implement a multi-camera vessel-based whale detection and identification system.
  • Evaluate performance of the system at sea 
  • Write peer-reviewed publications and present research results at national and international scientific meetings.
  • Analyzes field and laboratory experiments to achieve stated goals; may do computer programming or computer network/systems support for research related tasks.
  • Exercises creativity regarding adaptations or modifications to standard research and laboratory methods;
  • Participates in the preparation of scientific articles, reports, research proposals, and documentation of methods and procedures. May engage in oral communication of the results of research endeavors;
  • May be responsible for the testing, calibration, and troubleshooting of laboratory and scientific equipment, or for the planning and preparation for research cruises
  • May supervise other personnel.
  • With some supervision to achieve assigned objectives, identifies and participates in projects that support science and research activities through the demonstration of one or more specialized skills. Will be expected to work on tasks requiring creativity and independent thinking along with a proven understanding of fundamental research and science principles.



  • As deemed necessary by supervisor

Education & Experience

  • Master’s degree in a specifically related field with minimal relevant experience, or Bachelor’s degree in a related field with several years of relevant experience, or demonstrated competency as a Research Associate I, or significant, progressive independence and skill development as a Research Assistant III, or Senior Research Assistant levels or equivalent positions on the other technical ladders, or equivalent experience in the absence of a formal degree. (Candidates with a Master’s degree in an unrelated field and minimal relevant experience will likely start on the Department Assistant ladder.)
  • Proficiency in Linux and Python are required.
  • Previous experience with control systems, computer vision, robotics and navigation is advantageous.
  • A Research Associate II will have demonstrated initial competence in one or more specialized areas of science or research support. The opportunity exists for assumption of increased technical and/or managerial responsibilities based on the continued development of expertise. While there is no time limit to appointment at this rank, promotion within the Technical Staff is expected. To that end, promotion consideration can occur as early as the third year in rank; formal consideration should normally occur within five or six years in rank.

Special Requirements

  • Ability to obtain TWIC card
  • Must be a US Citizen
  • Must be willing & capable of obtaining a Security Clearance
  • Person drives WHOI vehicle / Must have a valid driver license.
  • Must be willing to spend extensive amounts of time at sea over a six month period.
  • WHOI has a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy in effect, where you must register your full vaccination status [vaccination plus booster] in order to begin your employment. The registration process is confidential and entails submitting your official vaccination records, or requesting to engage in the interactive exemption process for either a medical or religious reason

Physical Requirements

Physical duties for this position include but are not limited to, ability to lift less than 25 lbs independently, 2 times per day; carry 10-25 lbs, 2 times per day. Visual abilities to include near, far, peripheral, depth perception, and ability to distinguish basic colors. Hearing requirements include the ability to hear and respond to instructions, communicate effectively in loud areas (pier/dock, warehouse). Other physical tasks include occasional prolonged standing/walking; use of hands for basic /fine grasping and manipulation, repetitive motion, reaching above and below the shoulders, pushing, pulling, kneeling, bending, twisting, and stooping. Other occupational requirements include talking, traveling, working around others, and with others. Will be exposed to dust or other irritants and electrical/mechanical/power equipment hazards. Physical duties are subject to change.

Sea Duty

May work at least 8 hours per day and, at times in excess of 12 hours per day, 7 days per week. Sleep and work hours can deviate from those on land. May be expected to work on watch schedule (such as 8 hours on and 8 hours off or 12 hours on and 8 hours off) for all or part of a cruise or to work as hours are needed to accomplish the planned work. May need to travel during holidays and for long distances to and from foreign ports. May experience rudimentary living and working conditions, with shared and basic living quarters and laboratories. May experience bad or extreme weather conditions, including heavy seas, winter weather or hot, tropical weather. Work on deck may occur in both hot and cold conditions around the clock. Sea conditions will lead to active ship motion. Should be able to climb steep and vertical ladders and able to enter and exit compartments through hatches, doors, and sills. Should be able to carry heavy gear and participate in the loading and unloading of the ship as well as in the activities on deck and in the labs during the cruise. Shipboard environment may include: confined areas, shared sleeping quarters (berths) and bathroom facilities, small and basic berthing, fixed meal times and basic menus. Modest levels of heating, cooling, ventilation, and illumination, limited or no email and internet access and limited off-duty and recreational facilities (library, lounge, movies). May be exposed to potential allergens and irritants, including paint fumes. May experience constant and intermittent loud noises, and slippery and uneven surfaces.

WHOI is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer/Disabled/Veterans/M/F. We encourage Veterans and those with Disabilities to apply. Applications are reviewed confidentially. Applicants that require accommodation in the job application process are encouraged to contact us at (508) 289-2253 or email for assistance.