News Release

Larry Mayer selected as recipient of the Walter Munk medal

Awarded for extraordinary accomplishments and novel insights in the area of physical oceanography, ocean acoustics, or marine geophysics

Grant and Award Announcement

The Oceanography Society

Larry Mayer

image: Pictured here is Larry Mayer view more 

Credit: John Farrell

The Oceanography Society proudly announces that Dr. Larry Mayer, Professor and Director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire, has been selected as the first recipient of the Walter Munk Medal. Dr. Mayer's scientific research, along with the many widely used technologies and software tools that he's been involved in developing, have transformed a number of areas of ocean science, from marine geophysics, to paleocoeanography, to marine archaeology. Dr. Mayer has been influential in defining the international efforts to map the world ocean by 2030, and is known and appreciated for the outstanding mentoring of graduate students and postdocs over the course of his exemplary career.

Dr. Mayer's acheivements will be celebrated during The Oceanography Society Awards Ceremony on February 18, 2020, taking place in conjunction with the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, California.


Walter H. Munk (October 19, 1917-February 8, 2019) was an American physical oceanographer and geophysicist. Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1917, Walter was sent to the United States in 1932 to attend preparatory school, after which he studied at Columbia University and began work in a New York bank. Unhappy with banking, Munk moved west to study at the California Institute of Technology, where he received a BS in applied physics (1939) and MS in geophysics (1940). In 1939, he applied for a summer job at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he met Harald Sverdrup who became his friend, mentor, and doctoral advisor. His planned doctoral study was interrupted by World War II, during which he and Sverdrup developed surf forecasting methods that assisted the Allied landings, the beginning of Munk's lasting research association with the U.S. Navy. After completing his Ph.D. at Scripps in 1947, Walter continued there as an assistant professor, becoming a full professor in 1954, and serving as director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps from 1962 to 1982. In his research, Munk made important contributions to an astonishing range of topics, including tsunami monitoring, large-scale ocean circulation, Earth's rotation, the oceanic lithosphere, ocean waves (including internal waves), tides, ocean mixing, and ocean acoustics (including the development of ocean acoustic tomography). Walter received numerous awards and honors, including election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.K. Royal Society, Guggenheim, and Fulbright Fellowships, the Arthur L. Day Medal of the Geological Society of America, the Sverdrup Gold Medal of the American Meteorological Society, the first Maurice Ewing Medal of the American Geophysical Union and the U.S. Navy, and many more. In addition, he was the first recipient of the Walter Munk Award, awarded jointly by the Oceanography Society, the U.S. Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office, in recognition of distinguished research in oceanography related to sound and the sea


The Oceanography Society (TOS) was founded in 1988 to advance oceanographic research, technology, and education, and to disseminate knowledge of oceanography and its application through research and education. TOS promotes the broad understanding of oceanography, facilitates consensus building across all the disciplines of the field, and informs the public about ocean research, innovative technology, and educational opportunities throughout the spectrum of oceanographic inquiry. TOS welcomes members from all nations. Any individual, business, or organization interested in ocean sciences is encouraged to join and to participate in the activities and benefits of the society.

As a professional society, TOS is committed to supporting a community that encourages the open expression and exchange of ideas, that is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and that is welcoming to all members and to those who participate in its activities. In pursuit of that commitment, TOS is dedicated to the philosophy of equality of opportunity and treatment for all participants.

The Oceanography Society is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization incorporated in the District of Columbia.

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