The National Academy of Sciences Honors Scripps Professor with Agassiz Medal


Scripps Institution of Oceanography Professor Emeritus Charles S. "Chip" Cox has been awarded the Alexander Agassiz Medal from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Cox, a professor of oceanography in the Physical Oceanography Research Division at Scripps Institution, University of California, San Diego, will receive a medal and a $15,000 prize during the NAS annual meeting on April 30 in Washington, D.C.

Awarded every three years for original contributions in the science of oceanography, the Agassiz Medal was established by a gift from Sir John Murray. It has been presented since 1913.

Cox was honored "for his pioneering studies, both theoretical and instrumental, of oceanic waves, microstructure and mixing, and of electromagnetic fields in the ocean and in the seafloor."

A marine science pioneer, Cox is recognized for several fundamental contributions to geophysics. Throughout his career, Cox’s approach has consistently been to look for problems that are soluble with new observations and then to proceed by developing both innovative sensors and theory to establish a foundation for those coming after him.

His research has been aimed at measuring the fine-scale fluctuations in temperature and salinity within the ocean waters due to their ability to reveal levels of turbulence. He has developed free-fall instruments for these measurements and studied the electrical conductivity of the earth below the sea by measuring the penetration of electromagnetic fields into the seafloor.

Cox’s affinity for the sea began in Hawaii, where he grew up building and sailing small boats. He received a B.S. degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1944. In 1948 he joined Scripps as a graduate research oceanographer.

After receiving his Ph.D. from Scripps Institution in 1954, Cox joined the Scripps research staff as an assistant research oceanographer. He held that position until 1960, when he was appointed an associate professor of oceanography. He was elevated to full professor of oceanography and research oceanography in 1966.

He has been a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow, a Fulbright scholar at the University of Tokyo, and a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He was elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and received the 1992 Ewing Medal–given by the AGU and the U.S. Navy–for leadership in geophysics.

In 1996 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Cox, a resident of Del Mar, Calif., is the author of more than 60 scientific papers.

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