Renowned Scripps Scientist Receives Elite Recognition in Oceanography

Dariusz Stramski awarded Nils Gunnar Jerlov Medal


The Oceanography Society (TOS) has selected Professor Dariusz Stramski, a renowned expert in optical oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, as the 2024 recipient of the Nils Gunnar Jerlov Medal in recognition of his significant and wide-ranging contributions to the field.

With a distinguished career spanning over 40 years, Stramski has made profound impacts on the study of ocean optics. Born in Poland, Stramski received his master of science degree with honors in oceanography in 1978 and PhD in Earth sciences in 1985 from the University of Gdańsk in Poland. He then continued his professional career in the Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences, the Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie Marines in Villefranche-sur-Mer in France, Université Laval in Québec City (Canada), University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography where he founded the Ocean Optics Research Lab in 1997.

“I am deeply honored to be the 2024 recipient of the Nils Gunnar Jerlov Medal from The Oceanography Society, carrying the name of the pioneer and early leader of modern optical oceanography,” Stramski said. “It is a great honor and privilege to join the outstanding past recipients of this award and I greatly appreciate this recognition of my work. I would like to express my gratitude to TOS and the colleagues who put forward and supported my nomination for this award.”

Stramski will be honored during the Ocean Optics XXVI Conference in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain October 6-11, 2024. 

Stramski’s research began with groundbreaking measurements of wave-induced underwater light fluctuations during his graduate studies, which laid the foundation for his lifelong dedication to understanding the complex interactions between light and seawater. His subsequent work has encompassed a diverse array of topics spanning radiative transfer in the ocean, the application of optical methods in oceanography, and the development of innovative optical technologies.

“The optical theory and measurements are firmly embedded in studies of a great variety of ocean science and engineering questions. One perfect example is the optical remote sensing from satellites," he said. "Looking back in time, the beginning of my research career in the 1970s coincided with the first visualization of phytoplankton chlorophyll distributions in the ocean from satellite measurements with the proof-of-concept ocean color CZCS (Coastal Zone Color Scanner) sensor. We have come a long way since then.

"Just a few months ago we witnessed the successful launch of an amazing new satellite mission PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem). This mission is equipped, for the first time, with unprecedented capabilities for hyperspectral optical measurements of ocean color and atmospheric properties from ultraviolet to infrared, and additionally accompanied by measurements of polarization properties of light.”

Stramski’s contributions in more than 100 peer-reviewed publications are vast and varied. He has explored the interactions of light with numerous marine particles, from viruses and colloids to phytoplankton, minerals, and bubbles. His meticulous experiments have measured both absorption and scattering properties across a broad spectral range, in addition to detailed characterizations of concentration, composition, and size distribution of suspended particulate matter. His theoretical work has pushed the boundaries of the field, employing novel reductionist concepts and approaches to advance inverse optical models and algorithms. 

These models support studies of the world’s oceans using satellite remote sensing and in situ optical observations. Stramski’s contributions notably also encompass the development of innovative technologies to measure the particle size distribution of submicron particles as well as the spatial and temporal variability in underwater light fields, including low-light environments. Stramski’s multifaceted contributions continue to shape ocean optics research, benefiting both scientific understanding and practical applications.

“Unexplored scientific areas and unrealized potential advancements associated with various challenges to improve an understanding of interactions of light with the optically complex medium of seawater have been at the core of my inspiration and motivation to conduct research by combining experimental and theoretical work along with efforts to expand the optical measurement technologies,” he said.

Beyond his research, Stramski is celebrated as a distinguished collaborator, thorough editor, excellent educator, and influential mentor. He has led numerous research projects, participated in many oceanographic expeditions in various regions of the world’s ocean, and has been actively involved in teaching and various professional activities. He has served as an Associate Editor of the journal Limnology and Oceanography and a member of expert panels, working groups, and science teams, with notable contributions to IOCCG and NASA MODIS, VIIRS, and PACE missions. At Scripps Oceanography, where he has worked since 1997, he has taught and mentored students from diverse backgrounds, significantly impacting their academic and professional trajectories.

“Science has been my guiding light, my solace and my reward, and I am grateful to have had the opportunities to pursue a passion in the science of ocean optics,” he said. “The recognition with the Jerlov Medal not only represents a personal achievement but also stands strongly as a tribute to collaborative efforts and unwavering support of numerous individuals who have played a pivotal role in my research journey.”

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. 

-- Adapted from The Oceanography Society



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