member login | membership renewal       search button   facebook icon   facebook icon   facebook icon     print icon


  home > awards and honors > the munk award

Awarded in Recognition of Distinguished Research
                     in Oceanography Related to Sound and the Sea

About the Award

The Walter Munk Award is granted jointly by The Oceanography Society, the Office of Naval Research and the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy. Since 1993, The Oceanography Society has presented this award to recognize:

  • Significant original contributions to the understanding of physical ocean processes related to sound in the sea
  • Significant original contributions to the application of acoustic methods to that understanding
  • Outstanding service that fosters research in ocean science and instrumentation contributing to the above

The award consists of a medal designed by Judith Munk, a commemorative lapel pin, and a certificate bearing the signatures of the Secretary of the Navy and the President of The Oceanography Society.

Nomination Procedure

Nominations must consist of:

  • A nominating statement (no more than 5 pages)
  • A suggested one-paragraph citation of no more than 100 words
  • An abbreviated CV of the nominee
  • Up to five additional letters of endorsement (2 page maximum) solicited by the master nominator (only one of which may be from the candidate's institution—international endorsements are encouraged)

The nominations deadline for the next award is March 31, 2017. All nominations should be submitted either as MS Word or Adobe PDF files to



photo of C. Wunsch

Carl Wunsch

Dr. Carl Wunsch has been selected as the 2015 recipient the Walter Munk Award for Distinguished Research in Oceanography Related to Sound and the Sea.

Dr. Wunsch is the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physical Oceanography, Emeritus, in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as Visiting Professor of Physical Oceanography and Climate, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University.

The citation for him reads as follows:

Carl Wunsch is honored as one of the fathers of ocean acoustic tomography and as a principal contributor to our understanding of the physical processes that affect the propagation of sound in the sea. He adapted the machinery of inverse methods and ocean state estimation to use acoustic data to infer the ocean sound-speed (and therefore temperature) field and to interpret a wide variety of other oceanographic data. He applied inverse methods to the data obtained in pioneering tomographic experiments and made seminal contributions to the theoretical developments that underlie the field.

Dr. Wunsch will receive the award during the 170th Meeting of Acoustical Society of America in Jacksonville, FL (November 2–6, 2015), and he will also be recognized during the Ocean Sciences Meeting in New Orleans, LA (February 21–26, 2016). He will also give presentations at both meetings.


Previous Awards

photo of W.S. Holbrook

2013 Award — W. Steven Holbrook

Dr. W. Steven Holbrook is Professor of Geophysics, University of Wyoming, and Adjunct Scientist, Physical Oceanography Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Dr. Steve Holbrook has been selected as the 2013 recipient of the Walter Munk Award for Distinguished Research in Oceanography Related to Sound and the Sea. Dr. Holbrook will be honored during presentations at the December meeting of the Acoustical Society of America as well as the Ocean Sciences Meeting in February 2014.

The citation for Dr. Holbrook reads as follows:

Steve Holbrook is honored as the father of the new field of "Seismic Oceanography". His use of low frequency seismic reflection profiling to image the water column has provided quantitative and novel insights into the structure and dynamics of internal waves, eddies and mixing processes. With his innate and relentless curiosity, he has provided unprecedented views of the internal workings of the ocean. His generous collegiality has also been a stimulus to the formation of an interdisciplinary seismic oceanography community.

photo of W. Kuperman

2011 Award — William Kuperman

Dr. William Kuperman, Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Marine Physical Laboratory of the University of California San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography has been selected as the 2011 recipient the Walter Munk Award for Distinguished Research in Oceanography Related to Sound and the Sea.

Dr Kuperman’s achievements were noted in a letter supporting his nomination:

Bill Kuperman is at the forefront of a revolution in our understanding of wave scattering physics. This revolution is changing such diverse fields as medical imaging, seismology and oceanography. Practitioners now use chaotic scattering fields as coherent lenses and random noises as coherent sources. Complex propagation environments that once confounded the interpretation of received signals are now are said to “enrich their information content”. Bill and colleagues have discovered how to extract this information and are opening new avenues for the remote sensing of the ocean. For oceanographers, the benefits of this revolution are just emerging.

2009 Award — James F. Lynch

James F. Lynch of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was honored as the latest recipient of the Walter Munk Award for Distinguished Research in Oceanography Related to Sound and the Sea. Dr. Lynch was recognized for his achievements during ceremonies held on October 27 and 28, 2009, at the Acoustical Society of America Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

In addition to receiving an engraved medal and lapel pin designed by Judith Munk, Dr. Lynch received a certificate signed by the Secretary of the Navy and The Oceanography Society President. The certificate includes the following citation:

The United States Navy and The Oceanography Society present The Walter Munk Award to James F. Lynch, for improving the understanding of oceanographic processes that affect acoustic signals in shallow water, for the development of acoustical methods for measuring these processes, and for leadership of and service to the US ocean acoustics community.

Dr. Lynch will also be recognized during activities at the 2010 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, Oregon.


2006 Award — Peter F. Worcester

2003 Award — H. Thomas Rossby

2001 Award — Robert C. Spindel

1999 Award — Robert Pinkel

1997 Award — Stephen A. Thorpe

1996 Award — Leonid M. Brekhovskikh

1994 Award — David M. Farmer

1993 Award — Walter Munk