What We Do

The Center for Environmental and Information Systems houses three core research areas:

1. Acoustics and Signal Processing (ASP)

ASP conducts research and development in applied ocean acoustics to support antisubmarine warfare and other Navy programs, and, applies signal processing techniques to extract relevant information from underwater sound, speech, and radiation as well as other environmental signals.

2. Environmental Sensing and Modeling (ESM)

ESM investigates new techniques for making operational observations of the coastal ocean, estuaries, and other important regions. The group researches numerical modeling, data management and communication, environmental data visualization, and chemical sensing.

The Applied Optical Sensing Laboratory is researching the optical sampling characteristics of various spectroscopic techniques such as Raman, FT-IR, and UV-Vis, to improve real-time analyses and modeling for understanding and control of industrial processes like pharmaceutical manufacturing and biofuel processing.

Evanescent sensor — optical sensor development


3. Information and Control Systems (ICS)

ICS researches the use of information in complex decision-making environments like social networks, human robot interaction, computer interfaces, and cyber security, developing information and control systems for decision support systems, environmental visualization tools, autonomous underwater vehicles, and a testbed for studying botnets.

ICS is studying group decision-making in a joint Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and Office of Naval Research (ONR) program. They are modeling the interaction of group structural and process variables on group decision-making outcomes, variables such as specific networks, their level of disagreement, the order of their communications, and internal and external pressures. The predicted behaviors from the model will be validated experimentally.

To do so ICS is examining the theoretical integration of small group and attitude change theory, nonlinear dynamical systems, and wireless sensor network analysis methods. From these investigations ICS will design and conduct online group discussion experiments on small groups (3-5 people) through the manipulation of structural and process variables.


The EIS Center’s know-how is applied to the needs of the Department of Defense, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, along with other agencies and industry partners.

Examples of our research efforts include the investigation of underwater acoustic communications to improve sensor networking, the study of the causes of hypoxia in Hood Canal, and the use of cognitive engineering approaches to study the needs of Puget Sound boaters that resulted in an interactive web application called BIS.

Future directions for our group include chemical sensor engineering, ecosystem modeling of estuaries and coastal regions, and new areas of information science such as the study of social networks. One example of our research and development in chemical sensing is the use of revolutionary optical technologies to measure dissolved gases and to probe the geochemistry of remote and harsh environments.

David Jones, EIS Center Director

“We develop new methods for environmental observation and new tools for data analysis and signal processing, plus design, develop, and improve systems for enhanced performance, precision, and ease of use.”

EIS Center Expertise

  • Oceanography & meteorology
  • Applied ocean acoustics
  • Human systems interfaces
  • Signal, image & information processing
  • Naval operational studies
  • Software & environmental engineering
  • Statistical analysis
  • Embedded real-time control systems

EIS Center Applications

  • Autonomous undersea vehicle piloting and control
  • Ocean observing systems
  • Naval ocean & acoustic forecasting
  • ASW sonar & sonobuoy systems
  • Torpedo defense
  • Mine countermeasure systems

What's New?

Washington Ocean Acidification Center

In 2013 the Washington State legislature appropriated $1.8M to establish the Washington Ocean Acidification Center, co-directed by Jan Newton. The mission is to improve forecasts of where and when corrosive water may occur and to create mitigation strategies.   More >>

Local Educators on Shelf Science Cruise

On Earth Day the UW-operated R/V Thompson began an expedition for research and education off the Washington coast. Local teachers aboard learned about current ocean research topics and how to bring real time ocean data to their classrooms.  More >>

Ice Diver: A Thermal Ice Penetrator

The APL-UW-developed instrument melts its way through ice by electrical heating, like a rocket going down instead of up. The goal is to have it penetrate the kilometer-thick Greenland Ice Sheet to allow scientists to put sensors at the base of the sheet and measure meltwater pressures.  More >>

In the News

UW-made tool displays West Coast ocean acidification data

UW News and Information,

21 Nov 2014

Increasing carbon dioxide in the air penetrates into the ocean and makes it more acidic, while robbing seawater of minerals that give shellfish their crunch. The West Coast is one of the first marine ecosystems to feel the effects. A new tool doesn't alter that reality, but it does allow scientists to better understand what's happening and provide data to help the shellfish industry adapt to these changes.

Tool to help track changes in Pacific Ocean chemistry

KOMO News/Associated Press

21 Nov 2014

The tool provides real-time ocean acidification data along the coast and in some protected bays. University of Washington oceanographer Jan Newton, who led the collaborative effort, said the information can help shellfish growers make crucial decisions about when and how to grow shellfish.

Moving cameras talk to each other to identify, track pedestrians

UW News and Information,

12 Nov 2014

University of Washington electrical engineers have developed a way to automatically track people across moving and still cameras by using an algorithm that trains the networked cameras to learn one another%u2019s differences.

Recent Papers

Vinson, J., T. Jach, W.T. Elam, and J.D. Denlinger, "Origins of extreme broadening mechanisms in near-edge x-ray spectra of nitrogen compounds," Phys. Rev. B, 90, 205207, doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.90.205207, 2014.

10 Nov 2014, Link

Mensi, B., R. Rowe, S. Dees, D. Bryant, D. Jones, and R. Carr, "Operational glider monitoring, piloting and communications," Proc., Ocean Engineering Society - IEEE Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, 6-9 October, Oxford, MS (OES-IEEE, 2014).

6 Oct 2014

Marzban, C., S. Sandgathe, and J.D. Doyle, "Model tuning with canonical correlation analysis," Mon. Wea. Rev., 142, 2018-2027, doi:10.1175/MWR-D-13-00245.1, 2014.

1 May 2014, Link

Educational Opportunities

Graduate and undergraduate students who wish to study at the Applied Physics Laboratory may work with EIS advisors who have joint appointments in UW academic departments.  More >>

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