Field science, low-tech spirit, awareness in the service of the understanding of the Ocean


In order to help preserve the ocean and better understand its complexity, Sailowtech allows students to contribute to the development of innovative and frugal scientific instruments to make field measurements to study the marine ecosystem.

The ocean measuring instruments developed are intended to be boarded on scientific and educational sailing expeditions that minimize their environmental impact. To do so, Sailowtech gives students the opportunity to build low-tech tools that will reduce the carbon footprint of life on board. Most of the scientific prototypes will be tested on Lake Geneva and then on the open sea. Sailowtech encourages frugal field science, which aims at simple and efficient innovation using a minimum of means.

The transmission of knowledge and raising awareness of the greatest  number of people is a major aspect of the Sailowtech initiative. Through various communication channels, events and workshops, Sailowtech promotes the preservation of the oceans, the low-tech philosophy and the spirit of adventure. The objectives are to make research more  accessible, to contribute to the global understanding of the oceanic ecosystem, while making everyone an actor in the understanding of their environment.

Why the Ocean?
The ocean represents more than 70% of the Earth’s surface and plays a major role in the absorption of atmospheric CO2. It absorbs more than 30% of the man produced CO2. It regulates the global temperature and shelters a rich and diverse animal world. However, little is known about it, especially because of the difficult exploration conditions and the great diversity and complexity of its ecosystem, very different from terrestrial ecosystems.

Join the team !
Sailowtech is actively seeking students to participate in the design of instruments that are intended to be carried on board their first expedition. More than thirty students are already part of the project, and you, are you ready to join us?

Open Semester projects for Spring 2023: 


Subject: Expansion microscopy

Description : An important aspect of plankton biodiversity identification is the study of morphological characteristics. Expansion microscopy enables the vizualization of the internal cellular structures of unicellular eukaryotic plankton. In this project, you will be trained in this method and apply it on actual field samples provided by the Dudin Lab and collected from the Léman Lake. This experience will enable you to derive sampling guidelines for an application onboard a sailboat.

Type : Credited project

Profile required : BA & MA //  SV 

Subject: Green Hous Gases

Description :  Part of the Green House Gases present in the atmosphere is ultimately absorbed in the Ocean, though large uncertainties remain in the concentration of these uptakes, and their consequences on the environment. This project will implement, characterize and validate a LowTech design to sample surface waters for methane and carbon concentrations. This method will be based on samples taken from the Leman-LéXPLORE platform and existing methodologies to compare concentrations of both gases under different conditions accurately. The analysis and comparison will be gone in collaboration with Prof. Daniel McGinnis at Unige.

Type : Credited projet or associative project 

Profile required : BA & MA // CH, PHYS, SIE

Subject: CTD sensor or underwater camera
Description : Based on existing Open Source designs, Sailowtech is working on sensor platforms geared towards environmental data collection on marine ecosystems from a sailboat. You will support the development of a frugal DIY CTD sensor (conductivity temperature depth) and/or underwater camera through prototyping, assembly, testing and documentation.

Type : Associative project 
Profile required :  BA & MA // MT,EL,ME with hands-on experience

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We have projects for ITS, SV, IC, EIS, SC, CSE. If you are passionate about environmental and engineering challenges, contact us.

Main contact for students : [email protected]

Academic coordinator EPFL: Shan Yao (Science Outreach Department and experienced sailor)

Academic responsible : Professeure Rizlan Bernier Latmani (Environmental Microbiology Laboratory  EML)