Veverka Receives 2011 Whipple Award

Joseph Veverka received the 2011 Whipple Award at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting, held 5–9 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding contribution in the field of planetary science.


veverka_JThe Whipple Award is the highest honor given by the AGU Planetary Sciences section. The award is named for Fred Whipple, a gifted space scientist most noted for his work on understanding comets.

We have selected Joe Veverka, the James A. Weeks Professor of Physical Sciences and a professor of astronomy at Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y., as this year’s Whipple Award winner. This selection is especially appropriate, not only because many of Joe’s major contributions to our field have been in the small body arena but also because Joe was Fred Whipple’s last graduate student!

Joe has been a pioneer in the use of photometry and the development of photometric phase functions from telescopes and spacecraft to characterize the nature and physical properties of planetary surfaces, focusing especially on small bodies. He led, along with his many students and postdocs, important studies that enabled albedo determinations on asteroids, comets, planets, and satellites and thus the direct comparison of their surface properties to laboratory data sets.

Joe has been involved as a key coinvestigator, team leader, or principal investigator on a remarkable number of robotic space exploration missions, including Mariner 9, Viking, Voyager, Mars Observer, Galileo, Mars Global Surveyor, Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR), Cassini, Comet Nucleus Tour (­CONTOUR), Deep Impact, and Stardust-​NExT.

Joe has also performed important service work for our community, including serving as an editor at Icarus, chair of numerous NASA working groups, chair of the Committee for Planetary Exploration (­COMPLEX), and, most recently, as chair of the National Research Council’s Planetary Science Decadal Survey’s Small Bodies Panel. Beyond these academic and community service achievements, Joe has been an outstanding teacher, advisor, and mentor to many of the leaders in our field.

Joe’s service to his discipline exemplifies the “selfless service” that AGU values as a model for its members, and his scientific contributions are great. He is qualified in every respect to receive the Fred Whipple Award.

Laurie Leshin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N. Y.


Thank you, Laurie.

I am honored and delighted to receive this award because of the recognition it represents on the part of my friends and colleagues in the Planetary Sciences section of AGU, and also because the award is named after Fred Whipple, my thesis advisor at Harvard. Fred was a most remarkable individual, who, in his work, combined keen intellectual curiosity, unusual scientific skill, and a lot of common sense. One of the things that I learned very early from Fred is that no amount of erudition is a substitute for practical common sense.

We are fortunate to be living at a time when planets, asteroids, and comets are no longer mere points of light in the night sky but are bodies to which we can send our spacecraft and instruments to study individual objects in detail. As scientists, we are also fortunate to have supporting us large groups of engineers and technicians whose dedicated efforts make these endeavors successful. Exploring our solar system has been and will continue to be a great adventure. With ongoing missions such as European Space Agency’s Rosetta and NASA’s New Horizons, Dawn, and Osiris Rex, our understanding of the building blocks of our solar system, the comets, asteroids, and related objects will continue to grow dramatically.

In conclusion, allow me once again to express my sincere thanks to you, my colleagues, for this award and to the memory of Fred Whipple, who got me started in planetary science. And would it be inappropriate for all of us to thank the universe for providing us with a solar system so full of fascinating planets, satellites, asteroids, and comets for us to study, explore, and learn to understand?

Joseph Veverka, Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y.

Benitez-Nelson Receives 2006 Ocean Sciences Early Career Award

Claudia Benitez-Nelson received the AGU Ocean Sciences Early Career Award at the 2006 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif., in recognition of significant contributions to and promise in the ocean sciences.



benitez-nelson_claudiaIt gives me great pleasure to introduce the AGU Ocean Sciences Early Career Award winner, Claudia Benitez-Nelson. Claudia grew up in Seattle and entered the University of Washington as a chemistry major at the age of 13. It was at UW that Claudia was introduced to oceanography, and by the time she finished, she had B.S. degrees in both physical chemistry and chemical oceanography. At UW, Claudia was a member of the women’s soccer team, an interest she still pursues with great passion. Claudia went on to get a Ph.D. in 1999 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program where she studied phosphorus cycling under the tutelage of Ken Buesseler. Following a postdoc at the University of Hawaii, Claudia was hired as an assistant professor at University of South Carolina in 2002 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2006.

Those of you who are sports enthusiasts should be familiar with the term ‘franchise player.’ This is the one individual that a team wants to protect and keep at all costs. As the director of our Marine Science Program, I consider Claudia to be our ‘franchise faculty member.’ Claudia teaches with a great deal of passion, and despite being a very demanding teacher, the students give her rave reviews. This past year Claudia won the Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award, USC’s most prestigious teaching award. For her efforts outside the classroom Claudia received the 2005 Faculty of the Year Award from the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Claudia gives an inordinate amount of her time to both professional and community activities. On a local level, Claudia has established a program called ScienceQuest. This started out as an after-school activity at a local middle school and has grown into an NSF-funded project with science clubs at several parks in Columbia. On the national level, Claudia serves on the ORION Science and Technology Advisory Committee and the 2007 ASLO Meeting Organizing Committee.

Claudia’s research utilizes a variety of geochemical and radiochemical tools to examine the biogeochemical cycling of phosphorus in the ocean. Her research has been instrumental in demonstrating that the incorporation of particulate phosphorus in biologically produced material is the primary mechanism for the removal of phosphorus from the upper ocean. Her work has shown that the remineralization of particulate phosphorus occurs rapidly and is an important process for the regeneration of both inorganic and organic phosphorus compounds to the dissolved phase. Recently, Claudia has begun using both solid and liquid state 31P NMR to elucidate the chemical composition of particulate P.

Although Claudia’s accomplishments to date are exceptional, I have no doubt that the best is yet to come. She is quickly becoming one of the leaders in the field of chemical oceanography and serves as a mentor and role model for aspiring young scientists. Claudia Benitez-Nelson is most deserving of the 2006 Ocean Sciences Early Career Award.

Robert Thunell, University of South Carolina, Columbia.


Thank you, Bob, for those generous words. I would also like to thank Billy Moore, Ken Buesseler, Adina Paytan, Michael Rutgers van der Loeff, Peggy Delaney, and Dave Karl for writing letters of support. It is such an honor to be recognized by the Ocean Sciences section of AGU.

I have had the good fortune to work with excellent scientists. The common bond they share is their dedication to research and education. My first exposure to ‘real’ oceanography occurred on a cruise with Jim Murray and Al Devol at the University of Washington. They showed me how to work hard while having fun. While I was a first-year graduate student at WHOI, my advisor, Ken Buesseler, sent me half way around the world to participate in an Arabian Sea JGOFS cruise. The trust Ken had in me to accomplish the job set the foundation for a fantastic advisor-student relationship that exists to this day. Ken taught me how to be an outstanding scientist and the importance of surrounding oneself with excellence. I would not be here if weren’t for the expertise of his research group, Café Thorium. After 5 years in New England, I jumped at the opportunity to work with Dave Karl at the University of Hawaii. He taught me the importance of long-term data sets and how to glean complex interactions in marine systems by viewing them as a whole. When it came time for me to find a permanent position, my mom gave me an important piece of advice: Go to the place that wants you the most. I found that at the University of South Carolina, an environment that has been supportive and encouraging and provided me with many opportunities for following my true passion of interdisciplinary research. Billy Moore and Bob Thunell have been incredible mentors and have made my time at USC so productive.

I love my work and have the best job in the world. Whether it’s having a graduate student propose a new research avenue, seeing a struggling undergraduate finally understand the material, or just waiting on deck for a glimpse of that elusive green flash—it’s all a joy. In fact if it weren’t for my husband, Bryan, and two wonderful children, Julia and Noah, I’d lose myself completely in my work.

To say I lean heavily on all those mentioned above and many others for support would be an understatement. Every day I strive to develop similar relationships with the students in my lab. As this is called an Early Career Award and based on the subsequent performance of previous winners, I think it’s safe to say that I’m expected to keep up the good work. Fortunately, I am surrounded by excellent colleagues, students, and an amazing technician, Renee Styles. All of whom make it easy to carry on and pass the excitement and knowledge onto others.

Claudia Benitez-Nelson, University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Schmittner Receives 2006 Ocean Sciences Early Career Award

Andreas Schmittner received the Ocean Sciences Early Career Award at the 2006 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif., in recognition of significant contributions to and promise in the ocean sciences.


schmittner_andreasI am pleased to introduce Andreas Schmittner as a recipient of the Ocean Sciences Early Career Award, in recognition of his contributions to understanding global change through coupled modeling of the Earth system. Andreas is addressing an exceptionally broad range of topics spanning physical oceanography, atmospheric sciences, ecology, chemistry, and geology.

Andreas’s degrees are in physics (undergraduate, University of Bremen, 1996; Ph.D., University of Bern, 1999). He was a postdoc and a lecturer at University of Victoria, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute in Jena, and at the University of Kiel before moving to Oregon State University. In spite of many moves, he wrote 27 papers in the short time since his Ph.D. His papers are widely cited and appear prominently in the IPCC fourth assessment.

Andreas has advanced understanding of the transient response of thermohaline circulation to greenhouse warming in models of intermediate complexity by incorporating the hydrologic cycle, implementing seasonal cycles, and improving treatments of ocean mixing, energy and moisture transport, and the cryosphere. These model improvements also led to studies of multiple climate equilibria, moisture transports associated with short-term climate variability, and mechanisms of glacial and millennial-scale climate change. More recently, Andreas has modeled oceanic nutrients, biology, gases, and isotope tracers for simulation of the carbon cycle. With these improvements he is addressing long-term ecological impacts of climate change, for example, by demonstrating surprisingly rapid biological changes of the North Pacific in response to freshwater anomalies in the North Atlantic, and global responses to the rise of tectonic gateways in the geologic past.

Andreas’s work integrates paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic data to help understand processes that are not well expressed in modern property distributions or historical changes. His work helps to constrain projections of future changes, which are of obvious and urgent concern to humanity. His modeling approach brings to mind Einstein’s dictum that we must seek theories that are as simple as possible, but no simpler. Andreas seems to find just the right niche between simplicity and complexity that yields useful answers.

A current project for Andreas is an AGU monograph on thermohaline circulation, which will document the current state of the art and set the stage for the new advances. Many of us are watching in anticipation to see what comes next. Andreas’s warm and generous collaborative spirit makes him an emerging leader and a great educator. He is a most worthy recipient of the AGU Ocean Sciences Early Career Award.

Alan C. Mix, Oregon State University, Corvallis.


Thank you, Alan, for your kind introduction. I feel privileged to be part of the scientific community. Receiving recognition from this community, in particular in the form of this prestigious award, is a great honor.

I have been moving a lot in the course of my career, and I had the pleasure to see such beautiful places as the Swiss Alps and Vancouver Island and meet many extraordinary scientists. I believe that the exposure to different labs has been very important for my scientific development. It has opened my eyes to different aspects, and allowed views under multiple angles, of the highly interdisciplinary science of climate change. I am most grateful to Christof Luepkes, my supervisor during the diploma thesis at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar Research, in Bremerhaven, Germany, for introducing me to numerical modeling and for his great sense of humor; Thomas Stocker, my Ph.D. supervisor at the University of Bern, Switzerland, who gave me the opportunity to study the fascinating world of ocean circulation and abrupt climate change; Andrew Weaver, my postdoctoral supervisor at the University of Victoria, Canada, who guided me to the world of three-dimensional ocean circulation modeling; and Michael Sarnthein, at the University of Kiel, who taught me a lot about Earth’s history. All of these great mentors gave me a lot of freedom to explore my own research ideas while at the same time supporting me in the most generous way and enthusiastically sharing their profound knowledge of the Earth system.

I enjoyed and learned a lot from discussions and interactions with many researchers. Thank you, Oleg Saenko, Andreas Oschlies, Katrin Meissner, Eric Galbraith, Damon Matthews, Mike Eby, Rolf Kaese, Masa Yoshimori, Tracy Ewen, Willem Sijp, Mara Weinelt, Christof Appenzeller, Martin Heiman, Sandy Harrison, Martin Werner, Karen Kohfeld, Xavier Giraud, and many others. I am particularly indebted to my new colleagues in Corvallis, for their warm welcome and for helping me get started in the United States. I now have the pleasure to work with great scholars such as Alan Mix, Peter Clark, Nick Pisias, Steve Hostetler, Ed Brook, Joe Stoner, and Pat Bartlein and to participate in the exiting new project PALEOVAR. Thank you, Peter Clark, for nominating me, and all those of you who wrote what must have been terribly exaggerated letters.

Thank you, Susanne, for your love and support. Ella, thank you for brightening every day of my life since your birth on July 14, 2006.

Andreas Schmittner, Oregon State University, Corvallis.

Benoít-Bird Receives 2008 Ocean Sciences Early Career Award

benoit-bird_kellyKelly Benoít-Bird received the 2008 Ocean Sciences Early Career Award at the 2008 AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held 17 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes significant contributions to and promise in the ocean sciences. Benoít-Bird’s response to receiving the award follows.


Thank you to the colleagues who supported my nomination and the Ocean Sciences section for selecting me for this year’s Early Career Award. I am so privileged to spend my days (and often nights) doing a job I love. One of the things I enjoy most about being in the interdisciplinary field of oceanography is working as part of a group of scientists whose strengths complement each other, bringing about ideas and results that would not have been possible without teamwork. I am lucky to collaborate with wonderful people who both challenge and inspire me. Special thanks to Whitlow Au, Van Holliday, Oscar Schofield, Margaret McManus, Tim Cowles, Mark Moline, William Gilly, Mark Benfield, Scott Heppell, and Ron Kastelein and each of their research groups. I would like to thank all of my colleagues in the College of Oceanic and Atmos-pheric Sciences at Oregon State University who continue every day to foster the culture of collaboration that is a tradition at OSU. Upon arriving in Corvallis 4 years ago, I had been in my new office for less than 2 hours when I was approached by a senior colleague who wanted to get me excited about an idea for a collaborative proposal. That doesn’t happen everywhere, and it is truly a gift. I also need to thank the collaborators who work with me most closely—my students—and in whose achievements I find the greatest satisfaction. A special thank-you to my husband and research technician, Chad Waluk, who makes 3 months per year of at-sea research possible and who fills those months, and the ones in between, with laughter. Finally, there could be no greater honor than to have my work recognized by all of you, my peers and my role models in ocean sciences.

Kelly Benoít-Bird, Oregon State University, Corvallis

Fox-Kemper Receives 2011 Ocean Sciences Early Career Award

Baylor Fox-Kemper and Josh K. Willis each received the 2011 Ocean Sciences Early Career Award at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting, held 5–9 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes “significant contributions to and promise in the ocean sciences.”


fox-kemper_baylorI am pleased to introduce Baylor Fox-Kemper as a recipient of the Ocean Sciences Early Career Award, in recognition of his fundamental contributions to understanding oceanic general circulation, the dynamical nature of the eddy-filled oceanic mixed layer, and their connection to climate modeling.

It is always a pleasure to see a new star shine in the field of science, and it is a special pleasure when that emerging source of light is committed to fundamental research and its application to socially important issues and is articulate in communicating the work to others. Baylor is that new star in the field of oceanography and its intersection with the important problem of climate dynamics.

His research work is characterized by its broad scope and its depth and sophistication of approach and by the clarity of his thinking. His doctoral thesis was an investigation of the very fundamental problem of the mechanism that bounded the response of a weakly dissipative ocean circulation to persistent wind forcing, and it yielded a clear and innovative discussion of the basic nature of the wind-driven ocean circulation. He next moved, with colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to unravel the complex character of the response of the oceanic mixed layer to eddy structures within the layer that lead to its re­stratification. Again, with colleagues, he has further developed models that describe the complex interactions between the dynamics on the gyre or planetary scales and the eddying dynamics near major ocean currents that are shaped by, and themselves strongly affect, the largest-scale motions.

He has been recognized as a star from the first, with awards for his presentation at the 2003 Conference on Atmospheric and Ocean Fluid Dynamics. On a personal note, I was deeply impressed by Baylor from the first when he asked me to be his Ph.D. advisor. It was, for me, a very stimulating and embarrassingly easy job. Baylor was one of those rare students for whom the advisor’s principal challenge is to gracefully get out of the way and not be trampled in the student’s rapid intellectual progress to the degree. It will be terrific fun to see what the future holds for Baylor and for our field as a consequence of his continuing contributions.

Joseph Pedlosky, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Mass.


Thank you, Joe. Thanks also to my letter writers for their submissions and to AGU and the Ocean Sciences section for this honor. I am proud and overwhelmed to join the other recipients of this award.

Research is filled with fun—not the “fun” of debugging code—but the fun of sharing and finding new ideas with colleagues. I’ve been lucky to have had lots of fun with colleagues and with my students. Fun gets me up in the morning and keeps me up late debugging code.

I disagree that Joe advised me by getting “out of my way.” I remember many insightful discussions that improved our work together and the way I think now. Joe and my other frequent collaborators—Raf Ferrari, Gokhan Danabasoglu, Keith Julien, Bill Large, and Markus Jochum—deserve a large share of the credit for this award. Other scientists gave me tips at crucial moments: Jim Mc­Williams, Paola Rizzoli, Peter Molnar, Carl Wunsch, Walter Munk, and many others. The unfailing support of my family is the foundation upon which all of my work is built.

I have been trying to figure out what message the Ocean Sciences section is sending. Despite claims made in proposals, I am unsure what makes for a good research problem. We all like elegance, generality, clean setups, trusty code, and clear hypotheses with big implications. However, these vagaries don’t add up to an algorithm for generating good topics; they only recognize them. Improving parameterizations is a good, and often overlooked, problem by many of these criteria. A good parameterization is perhaps the most elegant and concise description of what we know about a process, and based on this award apparently others agree. I hope this award inspires others to join in the fun of developing parameterizations.

Baylor Fox-Kemper, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder

Willis Receives 2011 Ocean Sciences Early Career Award

Baylor Fox-Kemper and Josh K. Willis each received the 2011 Ocean Sciences Early Career Award at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting, held 5–9 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes “significant contributions to and promise in the ocean sciences.”


willis_joshAs a young scientist, Josh Willis has shown exceptional ability to recognize problems that are within the reach of expanding observational capabilities and then to fully exploit these opportunities. He has made major contributions to understanding sea surface height variability in relation to its subsurface causes and thereby to addressing important issues in ocean circulation and climate. Josh’s early career spans revolutionary transitions in global ocean observations from the era of expendable bathythermographs (XBTs) to that of Argo floats, and his work eloquently articulates the value and potential of today’s integrated satellite and in situ ocean observing system.

As a community leader, Josh is now charting the future of satellite altimetric missions, ensuring that the high-quality time series of sea surface height will be sustained for many more years. He has assumed the large and serious responsibility of continuity in a data set that is internationally acclaimed as a major resource in oceanography for the past 20 years.

The excellence of Josh Willis’s scientific achievements together with his demonstrated leadership make him highly deserving of the AGU Ocean Sciences Early Career Award.

Dean Roemmich, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, Calif.


What an exciting time to be an oceanographer. As humankind conducts an uncontrolled experiment with the Earth’s climate, the oceans are at the epicenter of unprecedented change. How will they react? How will those changes affect us? Although the answers are sometimes alarming, I think we have an obligation to pioneer this new frontier of discovery—to pry open the mysteries of our changing ocean and tell its stories to the world. Indeed, I think the world is waiting to hear them.

I owe a great deal to my many mentors along the way. My Ph.D. thesis advisor, Dean Roemmich, has always been an inspiration to me. Dean has always been masterful at posing intriguing questions and providing insightful guidance as I have run wild in the wilderness of the global ocean observing systems and their revolutionary transitions. He has also encouraged me when I’ve needed it, which is at least as important as all the rest. Since moving to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Lee Fu, Ichiro Fukumori, and Bill Patzert, who have also been instrumental to my career, all in very different ways. To all of these and many others, I say thanks. Were it not for you, life would definitely not be this exciting.

Josh K. Willis, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

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

Nowlin Receives 2006 Ocean Sciences Award

Worth D. Nowlin Jr. received the Ocean Sciences Award, which was presented to him on 22 February at the 2006 Ocean Sciences meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, for outstanding and long-standing service to the ocean sciences.


nowlin_worthThe Ocean Sciences Award is presented in recognition of outstanding and long-standing service to the ocean sciences community. It is a pleasure to make the 2006 citation for Worth D. Nowlin Jr., Distinguished Professor of Oceanography at Texas A&M University [College Station].

Worth has, for more than four decades, served as a community leader of mesoscale and large-scale studies of oceanic distributions of properties, the dynamics of ocean circulation, shelf circulation in the Gulf of Mexico, and the development of the coastal module of the Global Ocean Observing System. He has had a tremendous impact on all facets of oceanography and colleagues and students alike.

Worth has published some 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and hundreds of technical reports. He takes great pride in mentoring his graduate students, who span several generations on a direct lineage from his major professor, Distinguished Professor Robert O. Reid, and ultimately to his ‘scientific grandfather,’ Harald U. Sverdrup, the Norwegian pioneer of modern oceanography and the lead author of The Oceans, the ‘bible of oceanography’ for every oceanographer of my generation.

He has served the ocean community through numerous organizations, including the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Office for International Decade of Ocean Exploration, the Journal of Physical Oceanography, the Intergovernmental Ocean Commission, the Joint Oceanographic Institutions, the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), the NSF/University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) Fleet Improvement Committee, the Global Ocean Observing Systems (GOOS), the Intergovernmental GOOS, and the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System.

Worth Nowlin has been associated with Texas A&M University for half a century, as an undergraduate and master’s student in mathematics, a Ph.D. student in oceanography, faculty member, department head, deputy dean, and since 1987 distinguished professor, the highest academic rank. Worth has brought in untold research grants and contracts and continues to have an incredible influence on colleagues, postdocs (18), graduate students (31), and technicians at Texas A&M University and institutions around the nation and the world.

Worth is a no-nonsense Texan who does not mince his words. He is full of good ideas and willingly shares opinions and advice. He will give you honest and direct answers to questions you ask, and sometimes—actually often—to questions you do not ask. He is an ‘archetype A’ personality. He demands far more of himself than he does of others, and he never shirks a task. Worth has a very proactive way of operation: ‘He does not wait for his ship to come in; he swims out to meet it,’ according to a colleague.

Worth collects fountain pens and uses them daily, yet somehow never seems to use his shirt pocket as a blotter. He plays racquet ball with a vengeance. He likes to do his own landscaping under the hot Texas sun. Worth is a gourmet cook, a dedicated student of vintage wines, and a gourmand. He dearly loved his cat of 23 years, and when it died, welcomed two more into his life. Worth and his wife, Laura, are generous with both money and time. Worth has on several occasions paid the tuition for students out of his own pocket when funds were in short supply. Worth is a tough guy, but according to a former student, ‘while he is pretty slender around the waist, you will run out of tape if you measure him around the heart.

It is my pleasure to recognize Worth D. Nowlin Jr., Distinguished Professor, and the recipient of the 2006 American Geophysical Union Ocean Sciences Award.

Björn Kjerfve, Texas A&M University, College Station


I am very honored to receive this award.

I thank AGU and those who were involved in the nomination and selection process. During the past 40 years, it has been my privilege to work with individuals from many different sectors of the ocean sciences community. I would like to thank just a few of those who profoundly altered my life. Thanks to:

  • Robert O. Reid, who was my major professor and continues today as my scientific mentor.
  • Hugh McLellan, who introduced me to observational oceanography and allowed me to direct my first observational oceanographic project, a month-long survey of the Gulf of Mexico in 1962.
  • Feenan D. Jennings, who introduced me to the federal government complex at ONR and has remained my lifelong friend and a godfather to my children.
  • Joseph Reid, who introduced me to research in the Southern Ocean and to large-scale oceanography.
  • William J. Merrell, from whom I learned a great deal about management and who remains a valued friend.
  • D. James Baker, a great friend, scientific colleague, and confidant from his time at Harvard through his many positions until his current one as president of the Philadelphia Museum of Natural History.
  • Helmuth Sievers, Chilean Navy, retired, who helped me understand the value of international cooperation.
  • Dale Pillsbury, my good companion during 11 years of research in the Southern Ocean.
  • The late George Needler, who worked with me during WOCE and planning for the climate component of the Global Ocean Observing System, and who was a special friend.
  • Neville Smith, for his work in the design of the Global Climate Observing System.
  • Ann Jochens, who guided my recent research projects and taught me much about ethics and excellent administration.
  • My spouse, Laura Nowlin, who taught me the values of effective communication and is the love of my life.

“To mention the numerous others who have helped me qualify for this award would take more time than allowed. I thank you again and hope you enjoy the remainder of this fine meeting.

Worth D. Nowlin, Jr., Texas A&M University, College Station

Clark Receives Ocean Sciences Award

H. Lawrence Clark received the 2008 Ocean Sciences Award at the 2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting, held 2–7 March 2008 in Orlando, Fla. The award is given in recognition of outstanding and long-standing service to the ocean sciences.


clark_h_lawrenceThe AGU Ocean Sciences Award is presented in recognition of outstanding and long-standing service to the ocean sciences community. It is my pleasure to make the citation for Larry Clark, our 2008 recipient of the Ocean Sciences Award.

Larry worked in the Ocean Sciences Division of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for over 25 years. Beginning in 1981 as program manager for the Oceanographic Technology Program, Larry helped foster innovative technology development that advanced oceanographic science. He managed three interdisciplinary components of the program: technology development, acquisition of shared-use instrumentation, and shipboard technical support services. Larry did much to advance ocean sciences by encouraging and stimulating development of oceanographic technology. He was instrumental in the evolution of ocean observatories.

Larry’s responsibilities at NSF were expanded in 1993 when he became program manager for Oceanographic Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination. Besides his former duties of directing oceanographic technology, Larry now also oversaw elements of the Ocean Science Division’s international and ocean education activities, the Arctic System Science Program (ARCCS), and the Coastal Ocean Processes (CoOP) Program. Larry’s abilities to foster innovative science, obtain funds for research, and conduct rigorous scientific reviews and evaluation were major contributions to the success of CoOP. Under Larry’s leadership, NSF Ocean Sciences began the Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE) program, which advanced ways ocean scientists can contribute to “K-to-grey” education.

As head of the Ocean Sciences section and director of the Ocean Sciences Division of NSF, Larry fostered interdisciplinary research. He represented NSF Ocean Sciences in the National Ocean Partnership Program, the Interagency Working Group for Ocean Observations, and the Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology. Through Larry’s leadership, the critical role of NSF’s basic research in ocean science was supported in these initiatives.

In addition to his many contributions to oceanography through his work at NSF, Larry has a long record of involvement with the Oceanography Society (TOS), culminating with his service as president of TOS. Larry has helped organize TOS meetings, created education initiatives, and made efforts to entrain minorities into oceanography.

People who have been fortunate to work with Larry will attest to his integrity, diligence, and dedication. He has advanced ocean science through his promotion and leadership of interdisciplinary research and advances in ocean instrumentation. Larry has altruistically devoted his career to oceanographic science and deserves recognition through this award.

Michael R. Roman, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Cambridge


Thank you, Mike, Cindy, and the AGU Ocean Sciences section. And thank you, friends and colleagues, who nominated me and supported my receiving this award. It is an honor and a privilege to be here today. And it is especially so for me, after having looked on the AGU Web site and noticed some of the previous recipients of this award—many of whom have been my mentors and people I hold in great esteem.

I feel privileged for having had an avocation for the oceans—messing around on boats and being in and on the water—become a gratifying vocation for 25 years. I realized early on that I would not be on the cutting edge of science and personally making great advances in our knowledge of the oceans. But I had a rewarding career facilitating and helping others, who were on the cutting edge, advance our field. Whatever I may have accomplished is as much the result of efforts by the people with whom I have worked as with my own doing. I had the privilege of spending a career with some of the most dedicated, hardworking, interesting, and smart people engaged in scientific research. And many of you are in this auditorium today.

If you will indulge me, I would like to leave you with a thought. Please raise your hand if you have ever reviewed a research or other proposal for the NSF, ONR, or any other agency—nearly everyone here. If you did not raise your hand, one of my former colleagues will be visiting you soon!

Throughout my career, I tried never to lose track of the human element behind the proposals and projects I dealt with. Instruments and ships and computer models do not advance science; people do. Scientific advances come from the intellectual creativity, curiosity, wisdom, experience, and talent of people working in all modes of our profession. Many of these human qualities do not lend themselves to the formal structure and formatting of proposals. As funding competition increases and there is more emphasis on bureaucratic imperatives and performance matrices, the human element behind the proposals can get lost. Ocean science can suffer as a result. So I hope that the next time you review a proposal you will look beyond the science and the scoring sheet and the panel ratings and consider the individual behind the proposal; do not lose track of the human element that is key to advancing our knowledge of the oceans.

Thank you for the award. I had a great career, and I wish you the best success in yours.

H. Lawrence Clark, National Science Foundation (Retired), Arlington, Va.

Schlitzer Receives Ocean Sciences Award

Reiner Schlitzer received the 2010 Ocean Sciences Section Award at the 2010 Ocean Sciences Meeting, held 22–26 February 2010 in Portland, Oreg. The award is given in recog­nition of outstanding and long-standing service to the ocean sciences.


schlitzer_reinerIt is my privilege to nominate Reiner Schlitzer (Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany) for the AGU Ocean Sciences Section Award. His contributions in data management for large international research projects (World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER), and GEOTRACES) and his development of the impressive data manipulation and visualization tool Ocean Data View (ODV) are meritorious contributions.

The massive data sets collected in the past few decades by international projects are only as valuable as they are accessible for easy manipulation and investigation by the broader ocean sciences community. Reiner created, disseminated, and continues to support the powerful yet facile ODV (, which allows quick manipulation of very large data sets, giving unprecedented and rapid access to the science. ODV was developed such that thousands of oceanographers and students can learn it quickly and almost immediately make headway with their own data sets. Putting many more minds onto the questions that can be answered using global data sets is of incalculable value, and that is what ODV has done.

It is impossible to attend ocean sciences meetings where ODV is not most often the software of choice to present findings. At present, there are 2100 different visitors to the ODV Web site each month, downloading 60 gigabytes of software and data. The number of registered users is now at 16,500 and rising by 300 per month. There are Japanese and Russian translations of the ODV manual, again demonstrating Reiner’s dedication to service to the international community.

I thank the award committee for its deliberations on the merits of Reiner Schlitzer as a recipient of this very important award. He is absolutely deserving of this recognition.

Dennis A. Hansell, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Fla.


Thank you, Dennis, and thank you very much to AGU for this award. Data management has for a long time been seen as something quite technical and boring—certainly not as interesting and exciting as the scientific analysis of data and the discovery of new insights and knowledge. Yet recognition of the fundamental value of data management is growing, especially in our field of environmental sciences, where large and comprehensive data sets are needed to make scientific progress.

My interest in data analysis and visualization arose more than 2 decades ago during my Ph.D. work supervised by Wolfgang Roether. The objective was to apply new inverse methods then developed by Carl Wunsch to infer deep-water spreading rates on the basis of 14C measurements and a large hydrographic data set kindly provided by Joe Reid. Development of software to read Joe’s tape and to quality control and process the data for use in the model can be seen as the start of the work that eventually led to ODV. The first public version of ODV was released in 1990. The need for improvements in support of my own research as well as the constructive interaction with a growing user group have motivated further development ever since.

Design and implementation of ODV was influenced by the ATLAST and Java Ocean Atlas software and has benefited from fruitful collaborations with Peter Rhines and Jim Swift. The ODV software development would not have been possible without the long-term support of the Alfred Wegener Institute and the financial contribution from the European Commission. Much of the work was carried out during evenings and over weekends. I am grateful to my partner, Sabine, for her love, understanding, and support over all the years.

Reiner Schlitzer, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany