Fishing Boat
May 06, 2024

Making waves with bluetech

Michelle Cho ’93 is pioneering innovation for ocean conservation
by Joseph Kahn ’67

Seeing sharks, beluga whales, and other marine life up close for the first time during a middle-school field trip captivated Michelle Cho ’93. But it wasn’t until years later, when learning how to scuba dive in Thailand, that she saw the magic and mystery of the ocean in a new light.

“The hidden world under the sea is beautiful to behold,” Cho recalls. “I continued scuba diving all around southeast Asia and it was there, for the first time, I saw people dynamite fishing. The effects on the marine ecosystem were extremely harmful. I knew there was a better way and I wanted to do something about it.”

Michelle Cho ’93

The era of the blue economy is here, and Cho is excited for change. For two decades, the marine biologist has been researching the health and environmental impacts of commercial fisheries. As an associate director at New England Aquarium’s dedicated research arm, the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, Cho leverages technologies to promote ocean-
friendly practices and protect marine species and their habitats.

Her research has opened new pathways for sustainable aquaculture, or fish-farming, that focus on balancing productive coastal communities and thriving marine ecosystems.

In 2018, Cho helped launch Blue Innovation, a bluetech incubator supporting startups in areas of coastal resilience, offshore renewable energy, pollution cleanup, and marine conservation. Bluetech is the advanced technology sector making waves in the maritime industry. With AI, underwater drones, sensors, and buoys scan, monitor, and measure ocean-deep, bringing valuable data to the surface and helping scientists tackle a variety of challenges.

Underwater robot explores the deep sea. | iStock S_Bachstroem

Q: How might bluetech impact the future?

Our expertise allows us to connect technological solutions on a scale large enough to address some of the planet's biggest challenges, like greening the shipping industry and reducing climate-related impacts. The best ideas go nowhere if they can’t be applied on a large scale. Providing startups with the business acumen, scientific and regulatory information, lab testing partnerships, and other resources is key to broad-scale positive outcomes. Our ability to make connections in this field has already helped at least some startups gain traction.

Categories: Alumni, Magazine

Other Stories

Jerry Secundy
Leveraging change

Before becoming a lifelong environmental rights advocate, Jerry Secundy ’59 helped desegregate Harvard

Nicholas Thompson will ’93
Magazine welcomes guest editor Nick Thompson ’93

Spring 2024 issue will explore how Andover is shaping the future