Robert Ballard – 2005
Nearly 20 years ago, Dr. Robert D. Ballard ushered in a new era of exploration by reaching into the depths of the ocean with innovative technologies and finding the wreck of the Titanic.
This sensational discovery fueled a string of notable finds–from the Bismarck to underwater World War II graveyards in the Pacific to John F. Kennedy’s PT-109– and it propelled Ballard into the role of celebrity scientist.
Six decades earlier, Roy Chapman Andrews gained comparable fame for a series of paleontological finds–including the first complete nests of dinosaur eggs–that he recovered from the unknown reaches of Mongolia. Andrews was well-decorated for his successes, earning, among other awards, a coveted Hubbard Medal from the National Geographic Society. That same honor, among many others, would be bestowed generations later on Ballard, as well.
In February 2005 the paths of these two scientists crossed when Ballard visited Andrews’s hometown and alma mater to receive the Roy Chapman Andrews Society Distinguished Explorer Award. This award honors Andrews’s legacy by recognizing the accomplishments of today’s scientific explorers. Recipients earn a commemorative bronze statue created by O.V. Shaffer as well as a $5,000 cash prize.
Ballard received the award in a special ceremony on Friday, February 25.
He presented an illustrated acceptance lecture about his exploring career as part of the program.
The ceremony filled Eaton Chapel on the College Campus, and every attendee was captivated by Ballard’s eloquent speech, but more importantly his amazing discoveries over the years.
Ballard signed copies of his books following the ceremony, and he was the guest of honor later that evening at a celebratory dinner with members of the Society and other interested guests.
The Distinguished Explorer Award program is a principal focus of the Roy Chapman Andrews Society. Founded in 1998, the Society’s mission is to honor the legacy of one of the most celebrated explorers of the 20th century by educating the public about Andrews’s life, work, and adventures; promoting the value of scientific exploration and discovery; and emphasizing Andrews’s lifetime ties to Beloit.
Dr. Ballard is an Explorer-in-Residence for the National Geographic Society and a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.
Ballard is also the founder of the JASON Project. JASON was established in 1989 after Ballard received thousands of letters from school children wanting to know how he discovered the RMS Titanic.