University of Georgia oceanographer Samantha Joye has been awarded the 2022 Captain Don Walsh Award for Ocean Exploration.
Awarded jointly by the Marine Technology Society and the Society for Underwater Technology, the award is named for American oceanographer and marine policy specialist Capt. Don Walsh, who co-piloted the bathyscaph Trieste when it made its daunting record descent on Jan. 23, 1960, into the deepest point of the world’s oceans – the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.
The award recognizes outstanding, sustained, international contribution to the development, application and propagation of marine technology toward the advancement of ocean exploration.
Joye, Regents’ Professor, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of marine sciences, is an internationally recognized educator and deep ocean explorer whose work has revealed unexpected connectivity between elemental cycles, unanticipated feedbacks between geological elemental and microbial dynamics, and fundamental controls on microbial populations and their activity.
An expert in ocean biogeochemistry and microbial ecology, her work has focused on the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California, and along the North American Atlantic Margin. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on deep water habitats and extreme environments and tracks the cycles and fate of hydrocarbons, nutrients, sulfur metals, and trace gasses and interrogating the microbial communities that cycle these materials.
“Captain Don Walsh — a pioneering oceanographer and ocean explorer — has always been a source of inspiration for me,” Joye said. “This award recognizes my two passions — exploring the oceans and developing instrumentation to assess and monitor contemporaneous changes in ocean physics, chemistry and biology.”
For the past two decades, Joye has studied natural seepage and chemosynthetic habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. She has led exploration missions across the Gulf of Mexico to discover and document otherworldly environments, including mud volcanoes, brine pools and gas hydrate sites. Her research during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill environmental response significantly advanced the understanding of the critical role of microorganisms in degradation of oil and factors that enhance microbial degradation and optimize their environmental response.
“Dr. Joye’s contributions to the advancement of ocean exploration are significant and exemplify the qualities MTS and SUT are proud to recognize with this award. We are excited to see her innovative techniques and application of marine technology continue to impact the ocean community,” said Zdenka Willis, MTS president.
“I’m extremely honored to be named the 2022 Walsh Award winner,” Joye said.” I am excited to continue to explore at the frontier to advance ocean science, as Capt. Walsh has always done.”