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Underwater Sensor Nets for Environmental Monitoring

Computer science Ph.D. student Bridget Benson builds underwater sensor networks. She also monitors marine ecosystems the old fashioned way.
Computer science Ph.D. student Bridget Benson builds underwater sensor networks. She also monitors marine ecosystems the old fashioned way.

Computer scientists are developing networks of underwater sensors for real time environmental monitoring of marine ecosystems.

While the Navy has long used sonar for underwater communications, scientists need inexpensive and power-thrifty underwater sensor technologies for capturing and transmitting environmental data back to land in real time, explained computer science Ph.D. student Bridget Benson.

Last spring, Benson and computer science professor Ryan Kastner presented a paper highlighting the energy conservation benefits of using reconfigurable hardware rather than competing hardware platforms for their experimental underwater sensor nets.

Outside of school, Benson works for the nonprofit Reef Check, where she trains veteran divers to survey the fish, animal and plants living in reefs from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

"I have the field experience, and I see the need for the inexpensive sensor networks we are working on," said Benson, who envisions volunteers and autonomous robots working together to monitor the health and species richness of reefs and other underwater ecosystems.

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