In December 2012, OOI RSN Director and Principal Investigator, John R. Delaney, received the 2012 American Geophysical Union’s Athelstan Spilhaus Award. The Award is given for contributions to the enhancement of public understanding of the Earth and space sciences. The Honors Ceremony and Reception for all 2012 AGU awardees, prize recipients, fellows, and medalists was held Wednesday, December 5, at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco. An Honors Banquet took place on Thursday, December 6.
The Spilhaus Award was established in 2003 and is named in honor of geophysicist and meteorologist Athelstan F. Spilhaus Sr. who enthusiastically made innovative contributions to science, education, and public service. The Award is presented not more than once annually to an individual AGU member for devoting portions of their career to conveying to the general public the excitement, significance, and beauty of the Earth and space sciences.
One of the nominating letters described how Delaney uses “...his wonderful talent for engaging the public to help them understand what an intricate system we live with and how closely it is related to our climate, our economy, our food supply, and our security.” Another nominator described him as “...an extraordinary scientist and communicator, in essence, an environmental philosopher.” Several nominating letters mentioned his passion for poetry and praised his use of it “...to articulate the mystery, wonder, and beauty of our science.”
Delaney is Professor of Oceanography at the University of Washington and holds the Jerome M. Paros Endowed Chair in Sensor Networks. He began envisioning a cabled ocean observatory in the late 1980s and for several years led the NEPTUNE project, the precursor to what is now the Regional Scale Nodes component of the OOI. Delaney joined the UW School of Oceanography in 1977 and his research has focused on the deep-sea volcanic activity of the Juan de Fuca Ridge in the Northeast Pacific Ocean. He has led more than 50 deep-sea expeditions, including VISIONS 05, which broadcast the first live high-definition video from the seafloor to audiences around the world.