Meet Yi Chao: Oceanographer and Former NASA Scientist Empowering Remote Ocean Data Collection | Wave Makers

January 19, 2022

Harnessing the heat in the Ocean to power exploration.

In this episode, host Tamara Kahn speaks with Dr. Yi Chao, CEO and Founder of Seatrec Inc., about their efforts to accelerate ocean research with a unique energy harvesting solution. Listen to hear about his journey from NASA JPL to commercializing ocean technology. And learn about the power of temperature differences! What a diver feels as a temperature change as they explore deeper into the wild blue, Seatrec engineers see as thermal energy that can be turned into energy. And harvesting this unlimited supply has the potential to make ocean data more available to the many stakeholders that rely on it.  From improved hurricane and weather predictions to better farming of marine food supplies, powering oceanic drones and sensors in an efficient way reduces cost and increases the rate of data acquisition. Yi talk about how his NASA experience and funding from sources like the US government have helped commercialize this innovation, addressing the bottleneck of energy in the efforts to better observe our ocean. Yi also holds that collaboration is key. Check out the UN-endorsed Seabed2030 project to which the Seatrec team is contributing.

Show Transcription
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Tamara Kahn

Before diving into promoting the incredible innovations of the ocean and water industry, Tamara spent a decade ocean bound for weeks at a time, working with state-of-the-art geophysical sensors in some of the most challenging environments, the salty depths of the world’s oceans. She enjoyed managing projects with advanced technology and collaborating with a diverse workforce and clientele, but her international travels made her witness to some of the worst challenges facing humanity, from ocean pollution to water scarcity. She resolved to pivot her career into sustainability and ecological resilience. Since earning a Masters of Advanced Studies in Climate Science and Policy from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Tamara develops and facilitates programs that enable STEM students, researchers, policymakers, government officials and tech companies to form mutually beneficial partnerships, innovating and collaborating internationally towards sustainable solutions. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Geological Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin and contributes technical knowledge along with expertise in strategic collaboration and a zest for innovative thinking. Tamara is most happy near a body of water, relishes any chance to SCUBA and loves learning new languages and cultures.