2014–David M. Karl


David Karl currently serves as Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) at the University of Hawaii.  He grew up in Buffalo, New York on a polluted Lake Erie which at that time was his ‘ocean.’  Karl majored in biology at the State University College at Buffalo, and following graduation taught math and science at an inner city vocational high school before starting his career as an oceanographer.  He received a M.S. degree from Florida State University in 1974, and a Ph.D. degree from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1978– both in Oceanography – before moving to the University of Hawaii as an Assistant Professor of Oceanography that same year.  In spring of 1973, he participated in his first oceanographic research expedition to the Cariaco Basin aboard the RV Eastward.  Since that time Karl has spent more than 1,000 days conducting research at sea including 23 expeditions to Antarctica.  In 1979 Karl participated in the first biology expedition to the recently discovered deep-sea hydrothermal vents at the Galapagos Rift, and he conducted subsequent submersible-assisted vent research at 11° and 21° N on the East Pacific Rise, in the Guaymas Basin and at Loihi Seamount, Hawaii. In 1988 he helped to establish the Hawaii Ocean Time-series (HOT) program that has conducted sustained physical, biogeochemical and microbial measurements and experiments at Station ALOHA on approximately monthly intervals for the past 25 years. In 2006, he led a team of scientists in the establishment of a new NSF-supported Science and Technology Center at the University of Hawaii. C-MORE conducts collaborative research on marine microorganisms from genomes to biomes, and has a vital training mission to help prepare the next generation of microbial oceanographers.  Karl has received numerous awards and honors including the G. Evelyn Hutchinson Medal from the American Society for Limnology and Oceanography, the Henry Bryant Bigelow Medal from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Alexander Agassiz Medal from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and an honorary D.Sc. degree from the University of Chicago.  He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Academy of Microbiology, and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.



The Contemporary Challenge of the Sea:
Science, Society, & Sustainability

Watch the archived video below


In 1999, the Ocean Studies Board (OSB) launched the Roger Revelle Commemorative Lecture to highlight the important links between ocean science and public policy. The series was named in honor of the late Roger Revelle, a leader in the field of oceanography for over 50 years who spearheaded efforts to investigate the mechanisms and consequences of climate change. In recognition of the critical importance of education in linking science and public policy, the OSB has partnered with the Smithsonian Science Education Center and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History to bring the Revelle Lecture to a broader audience. The lecture is held annually in conjunction with the OSB meeting in Washington, DC.


  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • The Office of Naval Research (ONR)
  • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • The Smithsonian Science Education Center
  • The National Museum of Natural History
  • The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation


For more information, please contact:

Kenza Sidi-Ali-Cherif
Program Assistant
Ocean Studies Board
(202) 334-3361