April 1, 2008
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has selected David Ralston, an assistant scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), as one of the recipients of the U.S. Navy’s 2008 Young Investigator Awards. Ralston, who works in the WHOI Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering department, is among 27 researchers honored nationwide in the highly competitive Young Investigator Program. Typically, about 10 percent of the submitted proposals are chosen for funding. This year the ONR received 208 proposals.Ralston will receive up to $100,000 a year for a period of three years to fund his project, “Sediment Transport at Density Fronts in Shallow Water.” Specifically, Ralston will be examining how fresh and salt water mixes and spreads in intertidal regions – salt marshes and mud/sand flats – at the mouth of the Skagit River in Puget Sound, WA. “From a transport perspective, this frontal region is important because flow convergence traps sediment and other material there,” Ralston said. “The trapping can impact whether material stays in the intertidal zone or gets carried offshore.” Ralston will also collaborate with participants in a larger ONR-funded project to study hydrodynamics and morphology on tidal flats near rivers. The Young Investigator program supports basic research by exceptional faculty at U.S. universities and research institutions who received doctorate or equivalent degree within the preceding five years, according to ONR. Ralston earned a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California in 2005. Young Investigators are considered among the best and brightest young academic researchers in the country. The awards recognize research achievements, potential for continued outstanding research efforts, and strong support and commitment from their respective universities and research institutions. Past WHOI recipients of the Young Investigator Award include Ryan Eustice (2007), Steve Jayne and Chris Reddy (2003), Simon R. Thorrold (2002), Peter Traykovski (2001), Britt Raubenheimer (2000), Heidi Sosik (1997), and Deborah Smith (1987).