Ocean Engineer
Ocean Engineer


Dr. Molly Grear is an ocean engineer and marine biologist working in the Coastal Sciences Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Her work focuses on the environmental impacts of installing new ocean technology, as well as using understanding of biological processes and biomechanics to inspire engineering design. Her recent work has also included coastal development projects, such as modeling and determining the energy needs for kelp cultivation, developing a technical assistance program for communities interested in energy transitions, and understanding community centered design methods for marine energy.  Prior to joining the lab in 2020, Dr. Grear led the National Science Foundation's portfolio in ocean science and technology policy, including advising the White House Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology.  

Dr. Grear holds a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Washington, where she studied the potential injury risk of marine mammals from tidal turbine collision through testing and modeling the structural mechanics of whale skin and blubber.

Research Interest

  • Community scale development of marine energy
  • Marine mammal interactions with human structures
  • Environmental impacts of marine renewable energy
  • Ecological engineering in the marine environment


  • Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, 2018
  • M.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, 2016
  • B.E., Engineering Sciences, Dartmouth College, 2012

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology
  • American Geophysical Union




  • Wang T., Z. Yang, W. Wu, and M.E. Grear. 2018. "A Sensitivity Analysis of the Wind Forcing Effect on the Accuracy of Large-Wave Hindcasting." Journal of Marine Science and Engineering 6, no. 4. PNNL-SA-139620. doi:10.3390/jmse6040139
  • Copping, A.E. and Grear, M.E., 2018. Applying a simple model for estimating the likelihood of collision of marine mammals with tidal turbines. International Marine Energy Journal1 no 1
  • Grear, M.E., Motley, M.R., Crofts, S.B., Witt, A.E., Summers, A.P. and Ditsche, P., 2018. Mechanical properties of harbor seal skin and blubber− a test of anisotropy. Zoology126, pp.137-144.


  • Copping A.E., M.E. Grear, R.A. Jepsen, C. Chartrand, and A.M. Gorton. 2017. "Understanding the Potential Risk to Marine Mammals from Collision with Tidal Turbines." International Journal of Marine Energy 19. PNNL-SA-120984. doi:10.1016/j.ijome.2017.07.004


  • Copping A.E., S.A. Breithaupt, J.M. Whiting, M.E. Grear, J.D. Tagestad, and G.A. Shelton. 2016. "Likelihood of a Marine Vessel Accident from Wind Energy Development in the Atlantic." Wind Energy 19, no. 9:1557-1566. PNNL-SA-108588. doi:10.1002/we.1935


  • Carlson, T., Grear, M., Copping, A., Halvorsen, M., Jepsen, R. and Metzinger, K., 2014. Assessment of Strike of Adult Killer Whales by an OpenHydro Tidal Turbine Blade. Report by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).