Swift Receives 2011 Ocean Sciences Award

James H. Swift received the 2011 Ocean Sciences Section Award at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting, held 5–9 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given in recognition of outstanding and long-standing service to the ocean sciences.


swift_jamesJames H. Swift has served the oceanographic community widely and extraordinarily well for 3 decades, full of enthusiasm for exciting ideas and careful measurements, invariably self-effacing, but without ever compromising his high standards. His deeply thoughtful and eminently practical service almost always occurs in a research setting, often where he himself is actually engaged so that science and service are closely and comfortably joined, much to the benefit of his colleagues in many lands. A particular expression of this happy marriage is the generosity with which he shares the beautiful data sets that he has collected or synthesized.

His contributions span the world ocean. The support of planning is meticulous. The service measurements are of standard setting quality. Extremely large data sets are assembled, checked, and distributed with great speed and user friendliness. Excellent analytical tools are developed and supported for community use. A vast experience is shared liberally and cheerfully. Ideas, suggestions, and data are offered without reserve.

Swift’s selfless service to the ocean sciences community around the world is remarkable for its quality, breadth, duration, and influence. His colleagues are fortunate to be the beneficiaries.

Knut Aagaard, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle


Thank you very much, and my most sincere thanks to AGU and the Ocean Sciences Section for this award. I am deeply honored to be named in the company of those who have previously received this award, many of whom are friends and respected mentors. I note especially Curt Collins and Dick Lambert, who epitomized solid program management and respect for the people doing science, and my former graduate school office mate Tom Kinder, who used to joke to me as I toiled away on data that someday I would be “Chief Hydrographer of the Western World.”

Knut Aagaard, my dear friend and former graduate advisor, not only has the most amazing knowledge and understanding of the oceans but is also a patient man, allowing me, during my student days, to find my way within my mixed bag of interests, stumbling into the ocean data world as I tried to better understand the Nordic Seas. As I completed my dissertation a phone call from Joe Reid set the course for a stimulating and productive postdoc with him at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), where I rubbed shoulders with Bob Williams and the rest of the former Geochemical Ocean Sections Study Operations Group (now the Oceanographic Data Facility). What wonderful people I have worked with!

I am forever grateful for the support of my family and for the interest and support of SIO, an institution whose enlightened leadership values the many means—some nontraditional—by which ocean science can be advanced. The fact that my community values this as well—as expressed by this award—is an amazing honor. It is wonderful to be able to do daily what one loves and to be smiling on the way to work. Thank you.

James H. Swift, SIO, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla