2021 Award Recipients

The diverse field of individual recipients—students, young professionals, and career professionals—have distinguished themselves in their work, through technological accomplishment, volunteer service, or mentorship. In addition, MTS honored a company for its outstanding contribution for the advancement in a marine technology and our MTS Committees and Sections who are foundational to the advancement of the MTS mission. Our awardees work with unfailing commitment to tackle problems that impact our globally connected society in real and tangible ways that many people aren’t fully aware of. The awards were presented at OCEANS 2021 San Diego-Porto.  

2021 recipients include: 
Compass Distinguished Achievement Award: Presented to an individual whose career includes achievements that have had a significant impact on the fields of marine science and technology. 

Recipient – Daniel RudnickDirector of the Instrument Development Group, Scripps Institute of Oceanography 

  • Prof. Dan Rudnick is being recognized for outstanding contributions to physical oceanography, his many multidisciplinary collaborations, his dedication to ocean observing, and his astute understanding of stakeholder/community needs.  Rudnick is a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he formerly was Deputy Director of Education and Director of the Climate Ocean Atmosphere Program and currently serves as the Director of the Instrument Development Group. He is considered one of the world's leading experts in applying subsurface observations to advancing our understanding of the ocean dynamics, heat budgets, and circulation. To that end, he has collaborated with many ocean modelers to ensure that glider data are used and useful for model validation and data assimilation methods.     

Compass International Award: Presented to an individual, company, or organization (outside the United States) for outstanding contributions to the advancement of marine science and technology. 

Recipient – Integrated Marine Observing System Australia   

  • Since 2006, the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) has successfully operated a wide range of marine technology throughout Australia’s coastal and open oceans, turning observations into open data for the marine and climate science community, decision makers and international collaborators. IMOS has provided Australia with a step-change in marine observing and data management capability over the last fifteen years. Specifically it has advanced sustained ocean observing through operating ~10% of the global Argo; maintaining a wide range of sensors on ships of opportunity (both research and commercial); maintaining deep water mooring sites including in the Southern Ocean; developing and operating a national glider fleet, a national high frequency radar network, a national autonomous underwater vehicle facility, a national network of long-term reference sites and coastal moorings; a nationally coordinated animal tagging and monitoring network; and a sensor network on the Great Barrier Reef.  

Compass Industrial Award: Presented to any industrial firm (excluding government and non-profit organizations) that has demonstrated outstanding contributions to marine science and technology. 

Recipient – Kongsberg Maritime  

  • Kongsberg Maritime’s history as part of leading Norwegian industrial powerhouse KONGSBERG stretches back over 200 years. Today, more than 18,000 merchant ships, fishing vessels, cruise liners, ferries and superyachts, as well as offshore support and research vessels, offshore installations and government craft, depend on Kongsberg Maritime technology and people, wherever they are. 

Lockheed Martin Award for Ocean Science and Engineering: Presented to an individual who has demonstrated the highest degree of technical accomplishment in the field of marine science, engineering, or technology.  

Recipient – Dr. Christopher Scholin, President/CEO - Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute 

  • Dr. Scholin has made significant contributions to the field of harmful algal blooms (HABs). An important part of Dr. Scholin’s work has also been to foster and promote a shared vison for how to advance and disseminate ocean technology. This has included assisting NOAA and others in their strategic developments for genomics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence. MTS would like to thank Lockheed Martin for their ongoing sponsorship of this award and their gift of $2,500 to the recipient being honored this year.  

John P. Craven Mentor Award: Recognizing the long and impactful career of John Piña Craven, the award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding and sustained service to the field of marine technology through mentoring. 

Recipient – Roy Watlington, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of the Virgin Islands and the co-founder of the Caribbean Coastal Ocean Observing System (CARICOOS). 

  • Roy has devoted the last forty years to teaching, researching, and observing the waters in and around the Caribbean. He has taught science in public high schools and oceanography in multiple Historically Black Colleges and Universities including UVI, University of District of Columbia, and the Washington Technical Institute. His enthusiasm for science and his genuine interest in his students makes him an approachable teacher who excites students about science.   

Ocean News and Technology Young Professional Award: Presented to an MTS member, 35 years old or younger, who has demonstrated leadership in the Society and works in a professional capacity in management, engineering, or research and development in a marine technology field.  

Recipient – Mathew Biddle, Integrated Systems Solutions 

Matt is being recognized for his exceptional work of supporting the integration and management of marine life data for the US Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). Matt’s broad experience and outstanding cyberinfrastructure data management skills and abilities enable him to successfully lead and manage the extensive coordination and collaboration across multiple federal, state, tribal, and industry partners and stakeholders that is essential for responsive and productive IOOS data collection and management.  

Walter Munk Award: The Walter Munk Scholar Award: This award is jointly sponsored and awarded by the Walter Munk Foundation for the Oceans (WMFO) and the Marine Technology Society (MTS). The Award is presented annually to a scholar currently enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate or postdoctoral program. Established in 2019, the Award honors Walter Munk’s legacy of daring exploration and discovery through ocean scientific and technology research, ocean education or ocean conservation; open to those from any country or territory.   

Recipient - Elizabeth-Wright Fairbanks, Rutgers University  

Elizabeth (Liza) Wright-Fairbanks, a PhD student at Rutgers University, has made outstanding contributions to the technological development, application, and propagation of a novel glider-based pH sensor for ocean acidification observations scalable to the global level. Liza has been intimately involved in the development of the novel sensor since the inception of this initiative. She collaborated with industry partners Sea-Bird Scientific and Teledyne Webb Research during sensor development and testing. 

Special Commendation: This Award is presented to an individual, group or organization in recognition of outstanding accomplishments leading to significant advances in marine affairs. Open to anyone in management, public service, and the social science fields.  

Recipient - Nanda Kumar 

Nanda Kumar, who tragically died this year, served as Secretary of the MTS India Section. Known for his honest and energetic personality, Nanda helped found the MTS India Section and was the founder of the company Elekronik Lab, a marine communications and navigations company based in Chennai. Nanda was instrumental in founding the MTS India section and facilitated meetings with marine industry professionals from India and abroad. He worked closely with MTS student sections and gave lectures to students interested in pursuing marine science careers. He also was a passionate advocate for mariners to receive proper health care while at sea. Nanda attended OCEANS conferences in Italy and Alaska, and his dedication to MTS resulted in the India Section receiving the Best Section Award. He motivated students to start MTS Student sections in India and offered internships to students He was a passionate and dedicated promoter of Safety at Sea and over sea for the past 25 years and worked for the welfare of mariners on telemedicine. Mr. Kumar was often consulted on maritime communication & security issues by many countries/Governments. A fishing vessel tracking solution he developed is currently being used in 5 countries. He was a strong pillar for the growth of MTS India   

MTS Outstanding Service Award: Presented to an MTS member or member organization in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in fulfilling the objectives and missions of the Society. 

Recipient – Steve Browne, MTS Dynamic Positioning Committee   

Steve has been a strong, avid and visible supporter of the MTS Dynamic Positioning Committee (DPC) since its inception. This support predated his appointment to the Technical Committee and subsequent elevation as Chairman of the MTS DP Conference sub-committee, a position he has held for the last nine years. He has long experience in management of marine technology companies and is currently serving as General Manager of Offshore Analysis & Research Solutions, LLC.  

MTS Outstanding Section Award: Presented to an MTS Section in recognition of activities conducted in the advancement of the objectives of the Society. 

Recipient – Gulf Coast 

  • The Gulf Coast Section annually hosts the Oceans In Action Workshop, a leading forum in the region on educating private industry and researchers on the operational needs of local federal agencies, which has expanded this year to include the Port Security Summit. Additionally, the Section hosted the Global OCEANS 2020 conference, an international opportunity to educate professionals worldwide on new efforts in marine science and technology. This conference also boasts a Student Poster Competition, for which the Gulf Coast Section covered the cost of the awards for this program. The Section routinely provides funding and volunteers to the Hurricane Bowl and the National Ocean Sciences Bowl when held in the area and supports the MATE ROV competition. The Section interacts routinely with the USM Student Section, providing support and assistance whenever needed. The section is active and engaged with more than 200 members.   

MTS Outstanding Student Section Award: Presented to an established MTS Student Section that demonstrates superior performance in the advancement of the Society’s objectives. 

Recipient – New Jersey    

  • Formed in 2016, participating institutions include Stockton University, Rutgers University, Monmouth University, and the Stevens Institute of Technology. As a statewide section, student members across the state have access to a larger peer group with the same shared interests, unique and complimentary marine technology facilities housed at each participating institution, and a network of mentors across a much broader spectrum of the marine technology section. The section is very active and has participated in fieldwork experiences (glider deployments, sonar surveys) at the various institutions, including: Rutgers and Northwestern Michigan College for MTS camps; Great Lakes TechSurge; Stockton University; and others.     

MTS Fellow: Since 1975, the MTS Fellow title has been awarded to MTS members who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of the Society’s objectives and who have distinguished themselves in their fields.  

Recipient - Dick Crout, MTS Vice President for Sections 

  • Dick is a long-standing member of the Marine Technology Society and is actively involved at the local Section level, as well as at the national/international level. Dick has served in every level of officer in the local Gulf Coast Section and is currently Treasurer. Annually, he supports the Oceans In Action Workshop in any way he is needed and has served as emcee, financial POC, and speaker. For the 2009 OCEANS conference, Dick served as the Chair for the Technical Program Committee. This began what is now more than a decade of support to OCEANS conferences, as Dick immediately began to serve on the Joint OCEANS Administrative Board (JOAB) and continues in this role today. Over this time period, he has advised numerous Local Organizing Committee Members as they coordinate their events. For Global OCEANS 2020 and the upcoming OCEANS 2023 conference, Dick served/serves as the Financial Chair. He is also currently serving as the MTS Vice President for Sections.