Amy developed a strong connection to the oceans growing up in a small coastal town in northeastern Massachusetts. Her high school math and physics teachers inspired her to pursue an undergraduate degree in physics at Tufts University near Boston. Through the off-campus Sea Semester program run by Sea Education Association, Amy discovered a field where she could combine her curiosity about the oceans with her undergraduate training in physics—physical oceanography. During the summer between her junior and senior years at Tufts, Amy was an intern at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, and subsequently earned her Ph.D. there. In 1988, under the mentorship of Professor Tom Rossby. she then accepted a postdoctoral scholar fellowship at WHOI and has been there ever since, earning tenure in 1999 and the rank of Senior Scientist in 2005. Presently, she serves as Chair of the Department of Physical Oceanography. She is married and has one daughter.
Amy’s primary research interests are aimed at understanding the structure and dynamics of the most energetic features of the deep circulation: boundary currents (flows along the edges of the ocean basins) and deep mesoscale eddies (swirling masses of water typically 50 miles in diameter). These components of the deep ocean circulation have an important role in transporting heat, salt and other water properties (and the creatures that live in them) long distances in the ocean. The pathways of these currents and eddies are hard to observe because they often have no expression at the sea surface. Amy and her team have used several techniques to uncover these mysteries of the deep, but most often they release freely drifting buoys that sink down below the surface, where they drift with the currents and are tracked underwater using sound. They have deployed hundreds of these so-called RAFOS (Ranging and Fixing of Sound) floats in the North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Indian Ocean. With these and other tools, Amy’s group has discovered the formation location of some deep eddies, tracked their life histories and eventual demise; uncovered previously unknown pathways of the deepest currents in the North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico; and showed important linkages between the pathways of deep currents and the flows above, which in some cases are flowing in the opposite direction.
Legally blind for over 20 years, Amy has learned to use several adaptive technologies to continue her research. These include video magnifiers for enlarging text and graphics, scanners for converting print into speech, and screen readers and magnifying software on the computer. There have been four canine members of Amy’s group: Winslow, Abby, Echo, and most recently, Intrepid, a black lab guide dog from The Seeing Eye in New Jersey. Intrepid doesn’t yet have his sea legs, but he travels everywhere else with Amy, including meetings and conferences.
Heather has been working in the Bower Lab since 1997, doing everything from managing field programs, to helping ballast floats, to putting together presentations for conferences, to writing scientific publications and proposals. Heather joined WHOI in 1997, after completing an M.S. in Physical Oceanography from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and a B.A. in Physics and Studio Art from Smith College.
Andrée joined WHOI in 2010 and has been involved in processing, quality control, and analysis of both Eulerian and Lagrangian flow data in an effort to better understand ocean dynamics. Currently, her focus is on mesoscale circulation in the subpolar North Atlantic and its relationship to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. She received her B.A. from the University of Colorado, her M.S. from Boston College, and worked for several years at USGS in Woods Hole before joining WHOI.
Emeritus Research Scholar
Jim has been a critical part of the Bower Lab for over 25 years. Before that, he was instrumental in the development of the predecessor to the RAFOS float, the SOFAR (Sound Fixing and Ranging) float and its use at WHOI by Emeritus Scientists Breck Owens, Phil Richardson and Jim Price. His extensive knowledge in electronics and mechanical systems as been the foundation of the RAFOS float lab at WHOI, from building and tuning the sound sources used for float navigation, to float ballasting, design modifications and improvements.
Intrepid is a true “lab” member. A labrador-golden retriever mix, he joined WHOI in 2017 and is a proud graduate of the Seeing Eye guide dog school in Morristown, NJ. Intrepid spends his days deep in thought on his favorite chair in Amy’s office and accompanying her wherever her busy days take her.
Left to right:
Bower Lab dinner celebrating Amy’s successful completion of PO Department Chair! Front row (left to right): Andrée Ramsey, Amy Bower, Viviane Menezes. Back row (left to right): John Ramsey, Greg Koman, Dana Koman (holding the luminous young Huck), Carter Payne, Adele Anderson, Peter Furey, Heather Furey.
Left to right:
Adele Anderson, Amy Bower, Sijia Zou, Heather Furey, Thomas Meunier (all safely distanced to comply with pandemic protocol!).
Greg Koman 2021-2023 Currently affiliated with University of Massachusetts, Boston
Sijia Zou 2019-2021 Currently affiliated with Xiamen University, China
Viviane Menezes 2015-2021 Currently an Assistant Scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Jian Zhao 2015-2018 Currently affiliated with University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Femke de Jong 2011-2014 Currently affiliated with Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research
MIT/WHOI Joint Program Students
Ping Zhai 2008-2014, Currently affiliated with Princeton University
Visiting Students and Investigators
Hiroki Nagao (Summer Student Fellow, 2021)
Lydia Horb (Guest Student, 2021)
Thanda Newkirk (Summer Student Fellow, 2020)
Masatoshi Miyamoto (Guest student, January 2018 - May 2018)
Anna Simpson (Guest student, Summer 2016)
Lily Kitfield-Vernon (Guest student, Summer 2015)
Wilken-Jon von Appen (Guest student, Summer 2007)
Thomas Meunier 2021-2023 Research Associate, Currently Affiliated with Ifremer Brest
Adele Anderson 2021-2023 Research Assistant
Paula Perez-Brunius 2002-2003 Research Associate, Currently Affiliated with CICESE (Departamento de Oceanografía Física, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior)