Robert Ballard is Founder and President of the Ocean Exploration Trust; Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration and Professor of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. He is an Explorer-In-Residence at the National Geographic Society, Commissioner for the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, and a Senior Scientist Emeritus at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He served in the U.S. Navy for more than 30 years and continues to work with the Office of Naval Research. A pioneer in the development of deep-sea submersibles and remotely operated vehicle systems, he has taken part in more than 140 deep-sea expeditions. In 1985, he discovered the RMS Titanic, and has succeeded in tracking down numerous other significant shipwrecks, including the German battleship Bismarck, the lost fleet of Guadalcanal, the U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown, and John F. Kennedy’s boat, PT-109.
He has also discovered hydrothermal vents and “black smokers” in the Galapagos Rift and East Pacific Rise in 1977 and 1979. The author of numerous books, scientific papers, and articles, he has been featured in several National Geographic television programs, including “Secrets of the Titanic” and a more recent five-part mini-series, “Alien Deep with Bob Ballard.” He was a special advisor to Steve Spielberg on the futuristic television show seaQuest DSV. His honors include 21 Honorary Doctorates, National Geographic’s highest award, the Hubbard Medal, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014.
His 1997 best-selling book, Lost Liners, tells the story of the great transatlantic liners through memorable wrecks he has visited.
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Dr. Ballard has 21 honorary degrees and six military awards. He was also a Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving in the Navy from 1967 to 1997. He received the National Geographic Society’s prestigious Hubbard Medal in 1996 for “extraordinary accomplishments in coaxing secrets from the world’s oceans and engaging students in the wonder of science.” In 2014, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Ballard has published numerous books, scientific papers, and a dozen articles in National Geographic magazine. Dr. Ballard also has been featured in several National Geographic television programs, including the record-breaking “Secrets of the TITANIC.”
Robert Ballard graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and Geology. His first graduate degree was in Geophysics from the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Geophysics where he trained porpoises and whales to make a living. Dr. Ballard received a Ph.D. in Marine Geology and Geophysics at the University of Rhode Island.