North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun wel­comed leaders from the public and pri­vate sec­tors to the Marine Sci­ence Center in Nahant on May 3, pro­viding a tour of the facility that high­lighted the ground­breaking research being done off the coastal shores of Massachusetts.

Vis­iting the facility were state Attorney Gen­eral Martha Coakley, Senate Pres­i­dent Therese Murray, State Rep. Ann-​​Margaret Fer­rente of Gloucester, and Roger Berkowitz, pres­i­dent and CEO of Legal Sea Foods. A senior aide from U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s office also attended.

Geof­frey Trussell, director of the Marine Sci­ence Center, told vis­i­tors the facility is focused on research that yields effec­tive solu­tions to global chal­lenges in areas such as health, sus­tain­ability and security.

We are focused on being a near-​​shore, coastal marine research lab­o­ra­tory, because we think that those issues are most ger­mane to the economy and the sta­bility of the region,” Trussell said.

Neu­ro­bi­ol­o­gist Joseph Ayers described the vast research he and his team are involved with in the area of robotics. Ayers has devel­oped the robotic lob­ster and lam­prey, which have mul­tiple poten­tial appli­ca­tions including under­water mine detec­tion. He is also working on a project involving robotic bees that can pol­li­nate crops, and devel­oping a non-​​polluting mar­i­cul­ture system to cul­ti­vate food fish in the ocean.

Mean­while, Purnima Ratilal, assis­tant pro­fessor in the Depart­ment of Com­puter and Elec­trical Engi­neering, described her inno­v­a­tive research that uses Ocean Acoustic Wave­guide Remote Sensing tech­nology to detect and cap­ture images of shoals of fish — infor­ma­tion that is not only crit­ical to marine researchers but also highly useful to fish­ermen. The tech­nology is capable of map­ping thou­sands of square kilo­me­ters of ocean in a matter of sec­onds, and it can show how these shoals of fish form and how they move.

Pres­i­dent Aoun said this work under­scores a key research mis­sion at North­eastern — to pursue use-​​inspired research that meets soci­etal needs. He also touted not only the research at the facility but also the edu­ca­tional out­reach and research oppor­tu­ni­ties it pro­vides for K–12 stu­dents and for stu­dents enrolled in the University’s inno­v­a­tive marine sci­ence program.

What we do is impact society,” Aoun said.