Kinder Receives 2002 Ocean Sciences Award

Thomas Kinder received the Ocean Sciences Award at the Awards Program on 11 February, in Honolulu, Hawaii for outstanding and longstanding service to the ocean sciences.


kinder_thomasThomas Kinder has earned the Ocean Sciences Award through outstanding service and unselfish cooperation in research. Dr. Kinder has successfully encouraged, facilitated, and implemented activities that have strengthened the foundation on which nearshore and continental shelf research is based. Dr. Kinder obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1976. He subsequently spent 8 years as a research scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory. In 1987, he left his research position to become a Scientific Officer in Physical Oceanography at the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Two years later, he became Team Leader of the Coastal Dynamics Program at ONR, an activity that funds research on nearshore processes, including the study of waves, currents, and sediment transport on beaches, and on the physical oceanography of continental shelf flow fields. It was in the field of nearshore processes that Dr. Kinder has made an undeniable impact.

In the 1980s, the nearshore research community was fragmented and lacked focus. Dr. Kinder spent the next 14 years strengthening nearshore research activities, partially by encouraging and facilitating the planning and execution of a series of systematic, well-organized field experiments and supporting modeling studies that addressed major scientific issues in nearshore processes. Tom Kinder also worked to improve interactions among nearshore scientists. He encouraged the nearshore community to attend and to present results at the AGU Fall Meeting, which has become the largest annual meeting of U.S. nearshore researchers (and usually one of the largest sessions at AGU).

In addition to increasing communication among scientists, Dr. Kinder worked to improve communication among agencies involved in nearshore research. These efforts helped establish multi-agency funding for joint research projects, which focused and thus increased available resources. For example, the series of nearshore experiments at Duck, North Carolina, the largest and most comprehensive anywhere, were jointly funded by the ONR, the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Science Foundation.

Tom Kinder spent considerable effort encouraging and counseling young scientists. During his tenure at ONR, five nearshore researchers received ONR Young Investigator awards. Tom played a critical role as advocate in that process and generously mentored young scientists throughout his tenure. Additionally, Dr. Kinder always was willing to discuss almost any issue with senior (as well as junior) scientists, offering his opinion or providing counsel when appropriate.

Although not of a technical nature, and often behind the scene, Dr. Thomas Kinder’s contributions to U.S. nearshore science may have been the most important from any individual in the last 20 years. It is a pleasure to be able to provide a citation for someone who so clearly deserves this award.

Steve Elgar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Mass., USA
Ken H. Brink, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Mass., USA
John S. Allen, Oregon State University, Corvallis, USA
Bob Guza, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, Calif., USA.


John, thank you for your kind and flattering remarks. I also thank the American Geophysical Union and its officers for having this award. I am deeply honored.

Everything worthwhile that I accomplished in ocean science was with the help of partners, either one or many. So this award also includes all those who have worked with me.

More broadly, I know personally many fellow oceanographers whose service to ocean science at least equals my own. So I view this individual award to me as representing all those who helped and as a reminder of all those who do so much to enable the ocean sciences to remain sound and vibrant.

On a personal note, when Bob Weller surprised me with the news of the award, I shared my happy feelings with my wife. During the conversation, I said, ‘You know, when they give you this award it means you are really old.’ I was fishing for a reply such as ‘You’ve still got it!’ or ‘You’re really not that old!’ Uncharacteristically, she replied, ‘I’m sure you’re right, dear.’

So I thank you again for this award, and remind you that it represents the efforts and accomplishments of many. It brings a warm glow to the heart of a really old oceanographer.

Thomas Kinder, Hayfield High School, Springfield, Va., USA