Dr. Robert Ballard is the founder and head of the Institute for Exploration (IFE) at Mystic Marinelife Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut. Specializing in deep-ocean archaeology, IFE's goal is to establish this new field of research utilizing evolving technology such as advanced mapping and imaging systems, underwater robotics and manned submersibles. He founded the JASON Project in 1989 after receiving thousands of letters from school children wanting to know how he discovered the RMS Titanic. The mission of the JASON Foundation for Education, founded in 1990 to administer the program, is to excite and engage students in science and technology and to motivate and provide professional development for their teachers.
Ballard received his undergraduate degree in geology and chemistry from the University of California. He attended graduate school at the University of Southern California, the University of Hawaii's Graduate School of Oceanography and received his Ph.D. in marine geology and geo-physics from the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Ballard is a distinguished military graduate of the University of California with a Commission in Army Intelligence. Later his Commission was transferred to the U.S. Navy. During the Vietnam War, he served on active duty as an Ensign, Lt. J.G. and finally as a Lieutenant. Dr. Ballard joined the U.S. Naval Reserves as a Commander.
Dr. Ballard has led or participated in more than 100 deep sea expeditions including the use of the deep-diving submersibles ALVIN, ARCHIMEDE, TRIESTE II, TURTLE, BEN FRANKLIN, CYANA and NR-1. These expeditions included the first manned exploration of the Mid-Ocean Ridge, the discovery of warm water springs and their unusual animal communities in the Galapagos Rift, the first discovery of polymetallic sulfides, the discovery of high temperature "black smokers," the discovery of R.M.S. Titanic, the discovery of the German battleship Bismarck, 11 warships from the lost fleet of Guadalcanal and exploration of the luxury liner Lusitania.
The summer of 1997 proved to be a summer of firsts for Dr. Ballard and a team of scientists conducting the first deep-ocean archaeological expedition. Using the Navy's deep-sea nuclear research submarine, the NR.1, Ballard and his team returned to the Mediterranean Sea for an expedition to a previously identified debris field suggesting the presence of a fleet of ancient Roman shipwrecks dating to the Fourth century A.D. What they found in this landmark trip were ships complete with their cargo of shipping containers and column stones spanning five centuries of Roman history beginning in the first century B.C.
Dr. Ballard has published over 50 scientific articles in journals including Science, Nature, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, and the Journal of Geophysical Research. He received the Newcomb-Cleveland award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for an article he co-authored in Science, detailing the discovery of high temperature vent fields in the East Pacific Rise. Dr. Ballard has also written many popular articles for the general public, including ten articles in National Geographic magazine.
The books he has written on his discoveries of the R.M.S. Titanic, Bismarck, and the Lusitania are worldwide bestsellers. His first novel, "Bright Shark," and "Explorer," a children's pop-up book, were released in 1992. "The Lost Ships of Guadalcanal," was published in October of 1993 and his autobiography, "Explorations," was published in 1995. His newest book, "Lost Liners," was published in the Fall of 1997.
Dr. Ballard has participated in the production of numerous television programs for the BBC, Open University, National Geographic Educational Films, Nippon Television, German Television, the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, Public Television, Walter Cronkite's Universe and several National Geographic television specials. From 1989 to 1991, he hosted National Geographic EXPLORER, a program shown weekly on TBS. Dr. Ballard was technical advisor on "seaQuest DSV" during its premiere season in 1993/1994.