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CINAPS ... bridging the gap between technology, communication, and the scientific exploration of aquatic ecosystems.

CINAPS acquires numerous types of data to observe, monitor and analyze coastal marine ecosystems in the Southern California Bight. Our scientific motivation is to gather information relevant to issues such as coastal water quality, ecosystem preservation, habitat dynamics and climate change. In particular, a main area of CINAPS research is addressing scientific questions regarding the formation, propagation and prediction of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).

Please click here to learn more about the scientific endeavors of the CINAPS team.


Continuous observation and monitoring of a coastal marine ecosystem requires the utilization of many facets of technology. From gathering in situ data by use of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) to utilizing remotely sensed satellite imagery to examining organisms under an electron microscope, CINAPS has created a unique technology chain to study the coastal marine environment in the Southern California Bight.

Find out more about the implemented technology here.


Collaboration and communication are the heart of the CINAPS research team. Combining resources from three distinct university laboratories and all of our collaborating partners requires consistent effectual communication. Additionally, acquiring and combining data from the diverse set of deployed sensor platforms we utilize requires an intelligent sensor network and communication infrastructure.


Intelligent integration of science, technology and communication is what drives the CINAPS research and makes us a very unique and effective entity for observing and monitoring marine ecosystems and the associated geobiophysical processes in the Southern California Bight region.

CINAPS (pronounced [sin-aps]) is the Center for Integrated Networked Aquatic PlatformS located at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, California. The goal of CINAPS is to bridge the gap between technology, communication, and the scientific exploration of local and regional aquatic ecosystems. More specifically, the center is aimed at maintaining a finger on the pulse of our local coastal waters and the timely dissemination of information related to harmful algal blooms and general water quality to scientists, policy makers and the general public.

Like the chemical synapse in the human brain, CINAPS is a specialized interface that forms a communication circuit between each of the pieces in our coastal observing system, allowing for optimization of sensing and sampling strategies and to provide information about the performance of the system as a whole. CINAPS attains this broad goal by bringing together the minds and resources of experts in applied oceanography, robotics, phytoplankton ecology, and computer science.

CINAPS work is currently focused on regions of the Southern California Bight and is made up primarily of three different research groups at USC:

  1. Caron Lab: Researchers in David Caron's group study the role of phytoplankton and protists in aquatic microbial ecology, and specifically focus on dynamics of harmful algal blooms in Southern California waters.

  2. RESL (the Robotic Embedded Systems Laboratory): Computer scientists and engineers in Gaurav Sukhatme’s group develop robotic and computational tools and techniques to design and understand multi-scale, distributed natural phenomena.

  3. usCLAB: Oceanographers in Burt Jones' group focus on understanding integrated coastal ocean processes such as the coupling between physics, chemistry and biology in the initiation of algal blooms.

CINAPS is, by its very nature, a highly collaborative group that brings together expertise from several fields to work towards the common goal of tackling some of the difficult problems facing aquatic ecosystems today. This collaboration extends far beyond the walls of USC to a large network of partners, and we aspire to wholly integrate the public into our understanding of our complex but important coastal ecosystem.