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Dana Yoerger

Affiliate Research Professor
603.862.3438 (tel)
603.862.0839 (fax)

Dr. Dana Yoerger is a Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and a researcher in robotics and unmanned vehicles. He supervises the research and academic program of graduate students studying oceanographic engineering through the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in the areas of control systems, robotics, and design. Dr. Yoerger has been a key contributor to the remotely-operated vehicle Jason; to the pioneering underwater robot ABE and its successor Sentry; and the hybrid remotely operated vehicle, Nereus which reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench in 2009. Dr. Yoerger has gone to sea on over 80 oceanographic expeditions exploring the Mid-Ocean Ridge, mapping underwater seamounts and volcanoes, surveying ancient and modern shipwrecks including the Titanic discovery expedition in 1985, studying the environmental effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, and the recent effort that located the Voyage Data Recorder from the merchant vessel El Faro.

Dr. Yoerger’s current research focuses on robots for exploring the midwater regions of the world's oceans, which hold much of the worldwide ocean biomass and biodiversity, yet are largely unexplored. He heads a team developing a new underwater robot called Mesobot, which is designed to observe midwater fish and zooplankton to better understand their complex lives and their role in regulating global climate. The Mesobot project is a foundational element of WHOI’s new Ocean Twilight Zone effort, the largest private research grant in WHOI’s history. The Ocean Twilight Zone project, which seeks to advance our understanding of the midwater ocean through an integrated program of scientific research, technological development, and public engagement, is sponsored by the Audacious Project

Dr. Yoerger was the 2009 recipient of the Lockheed Award for Ocean Science and Engineering and served on the Research Board for BP's Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. He served as interim Director of WHOI's Center for Marine Robotics and recently held the Walter A. and Hope Noyes Smith Chair for Excellence in Oceanography. He was named a Fellow of the IEEE in 2021 for "development of autonomous underwater vehicles for deep ocean exploration and science.”

Dr. Yoerger has also contributed to a number of commercial ventures and startup companies. These include the startup Deltaglide which produced a novel, power-assist wheelchair based on a patent for which Dr. Yoerger was a co-inventor. Deltaglide was acquired by Independence Technology, a Johnson & Johnson company, in 2003. He also served as a consultant with Casepick Systems LLC (now Symbotic) on robotic systems for warehouse automation. He is currently an advisor to Humatics Corporation on human-centered robotics and microlocation technologies.