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Physical Oceanographer Chosen to Receive Ketchum Award for Coastal Science

October 24, 2007

Dr. Richard Garvine, a physical oceanographer who has specialized in the circulation of coastal waters and estuaries, has been named the 14th recipient of the Bostwick H. Ketchum Award from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

Administered by the WHOI Coastal Ocean Institute, the Ketchum Award honors an internationally recognized scientist who demonstrates an innovative approach to coastal research, provides leadership in the scientific community, and makes a link between coastal research and societal issues.

Garvine will officially receive the award, one of the Institution’s highest honors, during a lecture and reception in Woods Hole on January 7, 2008. The award—which includes a bronze medal and an honorarium—was last granted in October 2003 to WHOI marine chemist John Farrington.

Garvine is the Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Marine Studies at the University of Delaware, while also holding a joint appointment as a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His research has focused on circulation and mixing of waters on the continental shelf, particularly coastal upwelling, river plumes, estuarine circulation, and oceanic fronts.

Together with his graduate students, he discovered and named the Delaware Coastal Current. With his studies off Delaware and off the Connecticut River, Garvine pioneered the study of buoyant coastal plumes—lenses of lighter, fresher water that lay on top of denser, saltier ocean waters. Coastal plumes often support high levels of biological productivity and sometimes harmful algal blooms (also known as “red tides”). These freshwater plumes can also carry oil and pollutant spills to long distances away from their sources.

Garvine has investigated the physics of ocean currents and their relation to forcing by winds, tides, and runoff along the coast. He helped build models of how water masses and heat, salt, buoyancy, and crab and fish larvae are exchanged between estuaries, the continental shelf, and deep water at the shelf-break.

In the nomination letters for the award, colleagues cited Garvine as “one of the foremost coastal physical oceanographers,” and a man with “the ideal combination of excellent science and a strong record of achievement in applied, interdisciplinary problems.”

“The strong support letters that we received for this nomination clearly demonstrate that Rich Garvine has the deep respect of many of his colleagues, several of whom are past recipients of the Ketchum Award,” said Don Anderson, director of the Coastal Ocean Institute.

Peers also noted his service to students: Garvine has mentored and advised 15 successful doctoral candidates and 23 master’s degree candidates over the course of his academic career.

“He is a tremendous adviser and tremendous researcher,” said WHOI physical oceanographer Glen Gawarkiewicz, who studied for his doctorate under Garvine and nominated him for the medal. “He has been an unfailing supporter of young scientists in coastal oceanography and is generous with his time and energy for students and post-docs throughout the field.”

Garvine earned his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University. After a short stint at General Electric and eight years teaching at the University of Connecticut, Garvine joined the faculty of the University of Delaware in 1977.

He is the author of more than 65 peer-reviewed papers, and a member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, and The Oceanography Society.

The Ketchum Award was established by WHOI in 1983 in tribute to the late Bostwick H. “Buck” Ketchum, an internationally respected  oceanographer. Ketchum was associated with the Woods Hole Oceeanographic Institution for 40 years and was a leader in the development of biological oceanography. Buck Ketchum’s pioneering research provided the basis of understanding of productivity of the oceans, and his early work is still cited by scientists in the field.

In later years, Ketchum turned his attention to the effects of human activities on the coastal zone and the need for research into problems in that area. At the time of his death in 1982, he was one of four co-editors of a six-volume series Wastes in the Oceans published by John Wiley & Sons. He retired in 1977 as associate director of the Institution.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, independent organization in Falmouth, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the oceans and their interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment.