Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
The partnership began as part of a National Science Foundation grant in which a group of Cape Abilities participants completed a pilot project creating electrodes that are a key component of Magnetotelluric (MT) instruments used to collect data from deep in the earth. The electrodes were completed in the fall of 2011, and the instruments have been deployed in the Pacific Ocean south of Hawaii, as well as off the coast of Cape Cod. They have also been adapted for land use and tested in Africa.
Senior Scientist Dr. Rob Evans, principal investigator on the NSF grant, turned to Cape Abilities as a means of incorporating people with disabilities into the project. Including that component helped him win the $1.5 million NSF grant to produce 20 new MT instruments, requiring 150 electrodes.
That pilot project has paved the way for more partnerships between Cape Abilities and Woods Hole scientists: we have since completed one project to produce sediment traps for a study on wind erosion, and another that built battery packs to be used in a variety of oceanographic instruments. In the fall of 2013 we began our first project that involves working directly with scientific samples: Cape Abilities workers assist in preparing dried sediment for chemical analysis as part of a project studying ancient hurricanes.
Recently, The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation awarded the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution a $150,000 grant that will help fund a three-year collaborative project with Cape Abilities! The grant will support a project manager who will act as a liaison and provide training to individuals from Cape Abilities for a variety of production-based, ocean science and technology projects.
“This will provide a resource for scientists to have high quality products created, while also demonstrating that people with disabilities can be part of complex work,” said Dr. Evans, who will lead the effort at WHOI.
The Tower Foundation, which is based in Getzville, NY, supports community projects that help children, adolescents, and young adults affected by learning disabilities, mental illness, and intellectual disabilities achieve their full potential.
“Supporting pathways for individuals with intellectual disabilities to find meaningful work is very important to the Tower Foundation,” said Executive Director Tracy Sawicki. “We are very excited about the collaboration between Woods Hole and Cape Abilities to make this happen.”
For detailed descriptions of all our projects and contact information, please visit www.whoi.edu/sites/capeabilities