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Dr. Robert Ballard

Ocean Explorer

A native of Kansas, Dr. Ballard received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in geology and chemistry and his doctorate in marine geology and geophysics from the University of Rhode Island in 1975 before spending thirty years at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. There, he helped develop deep submersibles and remotely operated vehicle systems. Dr. Ballard is best known for his historic discoveries of hydrothermal vents, the ill-fated RMS Titanic, the German battleship Bismarck, President Kennedy’s PT-109, and numerous other contemporary and ancient ship- wrecks around the world. During his long career, he has conducted more than 150 deep-sea expeditions using the latest in exploration technology.


Dr. Ballard is president of The Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) and the Nautilus Exploration Program, which aim to explore the ocean, seeking out new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, archaeology, and chemistry, while pushing the boundaries of education, outreach, and technological innovation. He is founder of the Center for Ocean Exploration at the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Ballard was the innovator behind the telepresence technology of the university’s Inner Space Center, which provides video and audio links from live shipboard explorations to students, educators, and scientists on land for inter- active experiences in oceanographic research.


He has received prestigious awards from The Explorers Club and the National Geographic Society—the Explorers Medal and the Hubbard Medal, respectively—as well as the Lindbergh Award from the Lindbergh Foundation. In 2003, President George W. Bush presented him with the National Humanities Medal in the Oval Office of the White House. In addition to his PhD in marine geology and geophysics, he has received more than twenty honorary doctorates and is a recipient of the Newcomb Cleveland Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for the best paper of the year in the prestigious journal Science.

Dr. Robert Ballard
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