Director of Research & Technology
Ivar G. Babb serves as Celebration of the Sea’s Director of Research & Technology and has participated as Chief Scientist or scientist on 40 research and education cruises in the Atlantic, Great Lakes and abroad. He is also the Past-President of the National Associate of Marine Laboratories (NAML), during which time he Co-led a Strategic Visioning process for Field Stations and Marine Laboratories. He has published over 25 articles focused on ocean science education, technologies and ecology.
Ivar also serves as the Director of the University of Connecticut’s Northeast Underwater Research, Technology and Education Center (NURTEC). He received a M.S. from the University of Maine and a M.A. in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island. He then served as a John Knauss Sea Grant Fellow in 1987, working at the National Undersea Research Program (NURP), which began his long association with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He accepted a position at the National Undersea Research Center at the University of Connecticut-Avery Point in 1998, serving as the Marine Programs Coordinator and assumed the Directorship of the Center in 1995. His current research interest is focused on the development of innovative educational programs to link research and education and the development and application of new technologies for education. Pursuant to this research he has directed the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence – Technology and Engineering for Knowledge (COSEE-TEK) and recently served as Co-PI on the Marine Technologies for Teachers and Students project.
Research and exploration highlights include serving as Co-Principal Investigator on NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration (OE) inaugural Deep East expedition featuring dives along the eastern seaboard with the deep submergence vehicle Alvin. He then served as the Principal Investigator on the OE-sponsored two-year expedition the Mountains in the Sea – Exploring the New England Seamount Chain utilizing the Alvin and Dr. Robert Ballard’s Hercules remotely operated vehicle (ROV). He was the Co-PI on the NURP project that confirmed the wreck of the famous side-paddle steamship, the Portland, which was featured in a Discovery Science Channel award-winning documentary.
His passion for ocean science education began upon his arrival at UConn when he co-founded the long-running (1988-2009) High School Aquanaut Program with Dr. Dick Cooper. It was there that he met and began diving and working closely with Celebration of the Sea Foundation Founder and CEO, Patxi Pastor. The High School Aquanaut Program provided science teachers and their students hands-on research opportunities using a wide variety of state-of-the-art underwater and observation system technologies including the Harbor Branch submersibles Johnson Sea Link, Delta and Clelia and several ROV systems. An offshoot of the High School Aquanaut Program was the National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored Classroom of the Sea project that partnered with the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, CT and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf to develop innovative science educational opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing learners. Ivar was the Principal Investigator on the NSF-sponsored Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence – Technology and Engineering for Knowledge (COSEE-TEK). His most recent project, Marine Technologies for Teachers and Students (MaTTS) was supported be the NSF Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program and focused on the development and assessment of innovative educational programs to link research and education and the development and application of new technologies for education.
He served on the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Maritime Archaeology Working Group. He is a member of the Marine Technology Society, National Marine Educators Association and the Oceanography Society. He served as the President of the National Associate of Marine Laboratories from 2010-2011. During this time he co-led a Strategic Visioning for marine labs and field stations that catalyzed a National Academy of Sciences study of the future investments needed for field stations and marine laboratories.
Field experience includes underwater imaging and video analysis and digital encoding, fish tagging, side scan sonar, laser line scan, and geographic information systems. He is a NAUI certified scuba diver (>260 dives). Extensive experience with occupied submersibles (Delta, Johnson Sea‑Link I & II, Clelia, NR‑l & Alvin) and ROVs (Minirover Mk I and Mk II, MaxRover Mk I, Phantom 300 and S2, Deep Sea Systems MaxROV and Hercules/Argus), mixed gas diving (NITROX) and their applications as research and education tools. Other research interests include the ecology of kelps, the foraging behavior of fishes and factors influencing the distribution of pelagic forage fishes. He has published over 25 articles focused on ocean science education, technologies and marine ecology.