Deep-Sea Explorer and Discoverer of the Titanic Robert Ballard

"Adventures in Deep Sea Exploration: Living the Dream"

March 1, 2012
Student Union Apollo Room 

Best known for his 1985 discovery of the Titanic, Robert D. Ballard, Ph.D., has succeeded in tracking down numerous other shipwrecks, including the German battleship Bismarck, the U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown, and John F. Kennedy’s boat, PT 109.

"I grew up wanting to be Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," Ballard notes. He has lived up to that aspiration with more than 100 deep-sea expeditions, using both manned and unmanned vehicles. Beginning in 1973, Ballard participated in his first international expedition, Project FAMOUS (French-American Mid-Ocean Undersea Study), the first manned exploration of the Mid-Ocean Ridge, which helped to confirm the newly emerging theory of Plate Tectonics. By 1979, Ballard was scientist-in-charge of the exploration program that discovered the first "Black Smokers"—smoking chimneys of almost pure crystalline zinc sulfide that create a mineral-rich environment to support unique evolutionary variants of common fish and snails.

Ballard has discovered some of the oldest shipwrecks ever found, including two ancient Phoenician ships off the coast of Israel and four 1,500-year-old wooden ships (one almost perfectly preserved) in the Black Sea. He is a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence and a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, as well as the founder and president of the Institute for Exploration at Mystic Marinelife Aquarium in Connecticut. In addition to his Ph.D. in marine geology and geophysics, Ballard has 13 honorary degrees and six military awards, and in 1996 he received the National Geographic Society's prestigious Hubbard Medal for "extraordinary accomplishments in coaxing secrets from the world's oceans and engaging students in the wonder of science."

Please also join us on Friday, March 2, for the Wright State University Honors Institute Symposium on Exploring the Ocean. For more information, please visit the Honors Institute 2012 page.