Wednesday, August 15, 2001
Obituary Notice “Father of Space Oceanography” Robert E. Stevenson
Scripps Institution of Oceanography / University of California, San Diego
FOR RELEASE: August 15, 2001
Stevenson was a retired oceanographer
and had served as the director of the branch Office of Naval Research
(ONR) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) in La Jolla, Calif.,
from 1970 to 1988. He received numerous awards during his career, including
the Meritorious Civilian Service Award from the Department of the Navy,
"for consistently maintaining a high level of scientific achievement
while serving as Scientific Liaison Officer, ONR, SIO.
Stevenson was a World War
II veteran, serving in the United States Army Air Corps. He was navigator
of a B-17 and completed 29 missions in the European theatre. His unit,
the 306th bomb group, flew first over Germany and flew two missions
on D-Day. During the Korean War, he worked in Alaska on classified photo
reconnaissance as a squadron commander.
Stevenson received a Ph.D.
degree in oceanography from the University of Southern California in
Dr. Paul Scully-Power, director
of Space Exploration for Australia, said, "Bob Stevenson was the
Father of Space Oceanography. He instructed each and every one of them
[the astronauts] in the greatest of all endeavours looking at Mother
Earth and understanding what they saw, and recording that which was
new. In this sense, he is singularly responsible for one of the greatest
treasure troves of knowledge that we have today of the Earth."
In 1987 Stevenson was appointed
the Secretary General of the International Association for the Physical
Sciences of the Oceans (IAPSO) and served an eight-year term. In this
position, he brought oceanographers from around the world together to
share knowledge in support of oceanographic research. He organized and
conducted two major International Scientific Oceanographic Assemblies
as part of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, in Vienna
in 1991, and in Honolulu in 1995. In addition to working as Secretary
General for IAPSO, Stevenson continued to work as a consultant to NASA
instructing astronauts on earth observation from space.
At the time of his death, he was writing an instructional CD-ROM on space oceanography for astronauts, co-authored with Scully-Power.
Stevenson is survived by
his wife, Jeani Stevenson of Princeville; and two sons, Robert K. Stevenson
of Fullerton, Calif., and Michael G. Stevenson and his wife, Mary, of
Alexandria, Va.; a granddaughter, Caprice; and numerous cousins.
A memorial service was held in Hawaii on Saturday, Aug. 18.
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Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at University of California, San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. The National Research Council has ranked Scripps first in faculty quality among oceanography programs nationwide Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today in 65 countries. The institution has a staff of about 1,300, and annual expenditures of approximately $155 million from federal, state and private sources. Scripps operates one of the largest U.S. academic fleets with four oceanographic research ships and one research platform for worldwide exploration.
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