National Ocean Exploration ForumNational Ocean Exploration Forum

Champion of the Ocean Award

Established by the Urban Coast Institute of Monmouth University, the Champion of the Ocean Award honors individuals who have undertaken actions and demonstrated sustained leadership in advancing a future in which coasts and oceans are clean, safe, sustainably managed, and preserved for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations. In October 2016, the selection of Dr. Robert Ballard as the awardee converged with the National Ocean Exploration Forum, and The Rockefeller University joined with Monmouth in hosting the award ceremony and luncheon as the culmination of the 2016 Forum.

Honoree: Dr. Robert D. Ballard

Dr. Robert D. Ballard is President of the Ocean Exploration Trust which owns and operates the E/V Nautilus. He is also a Professor of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography, where he serves as the Founding Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration, which houses the Inner Space Center. He is Senior Scientist Emeritus in the Department of Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, served as a Commander in the U.S. Navy, is an Explorer-in-Residence for the National Geographic Society,​ and past c​o-​c​hair ​of the Ocean Exploration Advisory Working Group for NOAA's Science Advisory Board​,​ on which he also served.

Dr. Ballard was a ​member ​of ​the President's Panel for Ocean Exploration, which led to the creation of the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research​,​ and was appointed as a Commissioner to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. He has participated in or led over 150 ocean expeditions​,​ was ​served as ​Co-Chief Scientist of the 1977 Galapagos Rift Expedition that discovered the first hydrothermal vents, ​​d​iscovered ​the first ​black smokers ​in 1979​,​ as well as ​located numerous maritime and ancient shipwrecks including the RMS Titanic, the German Battleship Bismarck, the USS Yorktown, and President Kennedy's PT-109.