UW News

May 18, 2006

Professor John Delaney named to endowed chair in sensor networks

News and Information

John Delaney, University of Washington professor of oceanography, has been named the first holder of the Jerome M. Paros Endowed Chair in Sensor Networks.

The chair was established with a gift of $1,000,000 from Jerome Paros, one of the nation’s leaders in the field of measurement sciences. The purpose of the chair is to advance knowledge about the use of sensor networks. It is awarded by the Office of the Provost to a faculty member with expertise in either oceanography, atmospheric science, engineering or other closely related fields.

“Professor Delaney is uniquely qualified to receive this honor because of his leadership in advancing the field of ocean sciences and the intersection of his expertise with the purpose of the Paros Endowed Chair,” says Provost Phyllis Wise.

Delaney, who has been at the UW for 29 years, is the director of the NEPTUNE program, which is designed to convert a large sector of the Juan de Fuca Plate (located off the coasts of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia) and its overlying ocean into an internationally accessible interactive, real time natural laboratory, reaching millions of users or viewers via the World Wide Web. He has spent the last 12 years focused on efforts to ensure that a new paradigm of distributed remote, sensor-robotic networking becomes a centerpiece in the next generation of ocean and earth science research and education.

NEPTUNE will have thousands of physical, chemical and biological sensors distributed across the sea floor, throughout the overlying ocean and within the seabed Robotic platforms will be integrated into these interactive networks.

“These networks will transform our ability to understand the interplay among the processes under way in atmosphere, ocean and solid earth, and their effects on local, regional and global environments, including the response of natural systems to human impacts,” Delaney says.

“We are delighted with the selection of Professor Delaney for the sensor networks chair,” says Paros. “As director of the NEPTUNE Program, Professor Delaney he has led the effort to create the infrastructure and instrumentation network that will provide valuable information about the Juan de Fuca Plate. We look forward to working with the University of Washington researchers on this new regional observatory.”

Over the years, Paros has worked with UW researchers as colleagues, customers and even as potential employees. He is the founder of Paroscientific, Inc., and related companies that manufacture sensors to measure pressure, acceleration, temperature, weight and other parameters based on the quartz crystal resonator technology that he developed. This technology is used in many atmospheric, oceanic and hydrologic applications because it permits the measurement of phenomena that have great spatial and temporal variability. When assembled into sensor networks, this technology enhances the ability to understand complex earth and ocean processes that produce climate change.

Paros holds more than 20 patents and has authored many articles in the instrumentation field. He recently was selected by ISA, the leading nonprofit organization for professionals in the field of automation, as its Albert F. Sperry Founder Award winner, recognizing his contributions to the science and technology of instrumentation, systems, and automation.

“Good science comes from good observers running good experiments with good sensors,” says Paros, in discussing the purposes of creating the endowed chair. “The sensor networks chair cuts across many technical disciplines. Thus there are numerous educational opportunities in the measurement sciences field. We also hope to achieve closer scientific cooperation between government, industry and academia.”