Walter Munk, considered by many to be one of the world's greatest living oceanographers, has been selected as an honorary fellow of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA). Munk will formally become an honorary fellow at the plenary session of 148th Meeting of the ASA in San Diego on Nov. 17.
Munk, who has been affiliated with Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, since 1940, is a professor of geophysics and holds a Secretary of the Navy/Chief of Naval Operations Oceanography Chair at the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) at Scripps Institution.
ASA awards an honorary fellowship to "a person who has attained eminence in acoustics or who has rendered outstanding service to acoustics." Munk is the 17th honorary fellow named since ASA was founded in 1929. That year, legendary American inventor Thomas A. Edison was named the society's first honorary fellow.
Munk is being honored "for the invention of acoustic tomography." Tomography is a method of producing a three-dimensional image of the internal structures of a solid object by observing and measuring the passage of waves of energy through the object. Munk applied tomography to the study of the ocean, sending acoustic signals undersea over long distances and measuring the time it took for the signal to arrive at a receiver. Such data provides scientists with a view of the ocean's physical characteristics, such as density.
Munk received a Ph.D. in oceanography from Scripps in 1947. His research focuses on physical oceanography and geophysics leading to the understanding of ocean currents and circulation, tides, wave propagation in solid and fluid bodies, and the wobble of the earth's axis during rotation. He pioneered the use of high-speed computers for analyzing geophysical data.
He is a member or fellow of more than a dozen professional societies and has received numerous awards during his long career, including three Guggenheim Fellowships, the inaugural Maurice Ewing Medal from the American Geophysical Union and the U.S. Navy, and the 1999 Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences for his fundamental contributions to the field of oceanography, the first time the prize was awarded to an oceanographer. He received the National Medal of Science in 1985. He is a member of the National Academy of Science and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London.
The Acoustical Society of America is dedicated to increasing and diffusing the knowledge of acoustics and its practical applications. ASA's nearly 7,000 members represent a variety of fields related to sound, including physics, aeronautics, oceanography, architecture, speech and hearing, noise control, bioacoustics and engineering.