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Adm. Peter Neffenger visits Northeastern’s Marine Science Center, for cross-institute tour

A view of Boston from Nahant
A view of the Boston skyline from Nahant (GRI PHOTO)

Representatives from two Northeastern University institutes dedicated to sustainability and resilience welcomed Admiral Peter Neffenger (USCG Ret.), to the Marine Science Center (MSC) in Nahant.

Admiral Neffenger, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Global Resilience Institute (GRI) and the former Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), was briefed on Northeastern’s Coastal Sustainability Institute (CSI) and on the research efforts underway in the Nahant labs.

The August 11 visit was also an opportunity to look for places where the two institutes might overlap and work together – in areas such as security and environmental resilience.

Peter Neffenger visits Nahant labs
Adm. Neffenger gets a tour of NU facilities in Nahant, alongside GRI Founding Director Steve Flynn and GRI Associate Director Phil Anderson.

Northeastern Professors Joe Ayers, Brian Helmuth, Steven Scyphers and Mark Patterson gave briefings on topics including underwater robotics, innovative ways to make global change accessible to decision makers and the sustainability of residential coastal zones. A walking tour of all the labs was included, as well as time with the MSC’s virtual reality headgear, which provides an underwater “Google Street View-esque” experience.

The visit culminated with a tour of the Murphy Bunker, which was constructed during World War II and contained two 16-inch guns capable of firing a high-explosive projectile weighing over one ton a distance of 25 miles. Today it holds laboratories and classrooms.

“It was a very enjoyable visit,” said Dr. Patterson, Associate Director and Chief Technology Officer of GRI. “Admiral Neffenger is definitely interested in engaging with not only GRI, but also with CSI because of his background in the BP oil spill and helping manage the response to that crisis, as well as his insights into coastal security.”

The Coastal Sustainability Institute (CSI), an outgrowth of the Urban Coastal Sustainability Initiative (UCSI) launched in 2012, is an interdisciplinary research hub with expertise in ocean science, engineering and policy. The institute aims to develop interdisciplinary, sustainable solutions to ongoing and emerging grand environmental challenges in an era of global change.