Bits and Pieces

kayakHigh tech kayak

URI’s Graduate School of Oceano-graphy had an unusual red kayak on display at the late-January Providence Boat Show. Visitors who stopped to check it out learned that it was no ordinary pleasure craft. In fact, the self-propelled robotic watercraft is used to gather data on water temperature, salinity, pH, chlorophyll, and oxygen, as well as sonar images. It is used by URI students and researchers to help understand the conditions in the Narragansett Bay watershed and elsewhere.

Online help for spring plantings

URI’s Outreach Center has compiled a native plant guide, an online resource that lists 400 plants indigenous to the state and where to buy them. Users can search the guide by plant type, name, sun/shade tolerance and soil conditions. Plants are also identified as to their value to wildlife and their food or medicinal value to humans.

Researchers to develop ‘smart city’ network

Three URI engineering professors have been awarded an $850,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop the sensors and computer architecture for future “smart cities,” inspired by fundamental elements of the human nervous system.

According to Tao Wei, URI assistant professor of electrical engineering, the concept will link all municipal infrastructure, including power grids, communication networks, water and wastewater systems, public transportation, health care and security, real-time monitoring and response.

According to a report by consultants Frost and Sullivan, the market for the development of smart cities is anticipated to reach $3.7 trillion by 2020.

Tour Inner Space

Join free monthly tours of URI’s Inner Space Center, the facility that brings real-time oceanographic research from around the world to the Graduate School of Oceanography. The brainchild of Robert Ballard, the URI oceanography professor best known for his discovery of the remains of the Titanic, the facility offers around-the-clock live video of research expeditions aboard the Ocean Exploration Trust’s ship RV Nautilus, as well as video from the NOAA vessel RV Okeanos Explorer and other ships.

Tours are offered on the first Tuesday of each month at 3 p.m. Space is limited, so register in advance by contacting Romy Pizziconi at, 401.874.6119.

Mark your calendars

Commencement 2015: Saturday and Sunday, May 16 and 17.

Students and family members are invited to attend, but complementary tickets are required; more information is at

41N-MagazineFurther Reading

41°N, the magazine of Rhode Island Sea Grant and the URI Coastal Institute, went quahog wild in its winter issue, with a tantalizing feature that includes six recipes by Rhode Island chefs. Other stories focus on the state of federal flood insurance, how marinas deal with storms, and a wealth of other marine-focused topics. Get it on newsstands in Rhode Island or by emailing