Scripps Oceanography Professor Honored for Antarctic Field Research


New York City's Explorers Club, a century-old international professional society, has awarded Gerald Kooyman of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego its highest honor for accomplishments in polar field research.

Kooyman, a professor emeritus of biology and research physiology, is a distinguished scientist who has conducted research on marine birds and mammals for 45 years. Through extensive field research in Antarctica, he has become one of the world's foremost experts on emperor penguins and Weddell leopard seals.

Kooyman was honored March 17 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City during the Explorers Club's annual gathering to recognize the world's top explorers. This year's event, "The Importance of Polar Places," was intended to coincide with the launch of the International Polar Year (IPY), a major international science initiative launched this month. IPY was developed to bring attention to the importance of the polar regions.

The Explorers Club awarded Kooyman its Finn Ronne Memorial Award for Polar Field Science and Exploration "for his innovative and groundbreaking research on the diving behavior and physiology of Weddell seals and emperor penguins and for scientific achievement during a lifetime of Antarctic field research," according to the award citation.

The Explorers Club bestows the Finn Ronne Award, a memorial honoring the famed Norwegian-born U.S. polar explorer, to individuals "noted for accomplishments in polar field research that best typify the spirit of explorer Finn Ronne." Ronne was well known for his many years spent exploring and mapping Antarctica. Karen Ronne, Finn's daughter, presented the award to Kooyman. Also on stage was Edith "Jackie" Ronne, Finn's wife, the first woman to step on the Antarctic continent and one of two women who spent winter in Antarctica during the Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition of 1947-1948.

Kooyman, a member of the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at Scripps, studies the anatomy and physiology of air-breathing vertebrates as well as the exercise physiology and diving behavior of aquatic vertebrates, marine birds and marine mammals. He was the first scientist to design and implement studies using a time-depth recorder to measure diving in free-diving seals.

In recent years, Kooyman has focused his research on diving and population studies in emperor penguins. During recent expeditions to Antarctica, Kooyman has documented climate-induced changes and their impacts on emperor penguin habitats.

A member of the Explorers Club and several scientific societies, including the American Polar Society, Kooyman in 2005 was the first recipient of the Kenneth Norris Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

About the Explorers Club

The Explorers Club was founded in 1904 by a group of the world's leading explorers of the time. It is a multidisciplinary, not for profit organization dedicated to the advancement of field research, scientific research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. With more than 3,000 members worldwide, the organization is headquartered in New York. For more information see

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