The focus of John’s research is on the interactions between physics and biology in the ocean, particularly how these complex interactions control the nature and consequences of phytoplankton blooms. This research integrates observations from satellites, aircraft, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), towed vehicles, moorings and ships, with contributions from numerical model simulations. Through MBARI science-engineering collaborations, he also works on augmenting the capabilities of AUVs, so that these smart robots can recognize and respond to features of interest. For example, phenomena for which we have developed and applied feature recognition and AUV response include bloom patches, benthic-pelagic coupling, and estuarine plumes. These dynamic phenomena are encountered unpredictably in rapidly changing coastal waters, and onboard intelligence to enhance feature mapping and sampling is essential to advancing coastal oceanography.
Research programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) encompass the entire ocean, from the surface waters to the deep seafloor, and from the coastal zone to the open sea. The need to understand the ocean in all its complexity and variability drives MBARI's research and development efforts.