Chief Scientist and Professor
Environmental Systems Research Institute (aka "Esri") and Oregon State University
[Audio] As a child transfixed by the Apollo 11 moon landing, I briefly considered a career in outer space. But Jacques Cousteau, brought me back to Earth, and to our own "inner space," the oceans. Captain Nemo, Long John Silver, and Fletcher Christian were characters that filled my imagination. So my path was set toward ocean science and ultimately toward creating "treasure maps" of scientific insight.
Fast forward to the early 1990s. A few years after the deepsea vehicle Argo I was used to discover the wreck of the HMS Titanic, I was presented, while a graduate student at UCSB, with some of the first geographic information system (GIS) data sets of the ocean floor that were collected with that vehicle. It was then that I first became acutely aware of the need to develop even better ways of displaying, analyzing, and interpreting ocean data: from the seafloor up to its surface, and along coastal regions. Our mapping efforts continue in earnest, as today only 5-10% of the global ocean floor has been mapped in detail. We have better maps of the entire surface of the Moon, Venus, and Mars.
My students, colleagues, and I continue to develop and improve mapping technologies, for which now there is an additional demand in government and conservation. It is now known that virtually no part of the ocean is unaffected by human activities (e.g., fishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and YES, climate change). The maps we develop help people to make better decisions about what to protect, where to be safe, or how we can best use ocean resources to generate energy.