Prior to joining the Schmidt Ocean Institute, Dr. Virmani was the Executive Director of Planet & Environment at XPRIZE and the Rainforest XPRIZE, a competition for innovations in biodiversity assessment technologies. She was also Executive Director of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE to spur innovations of unmanned and autonomous deep-sea technologies that will allow the global bathymetric community to map the seafloor by 2030. Embedded in this XPRIZE was a NOAA Bonus Prize for technologies that could detect a biological or chemical signal underwater and autonomously track it to its source. Dr. Virmani joined XPRIZE in 2014 as the Technical Director for the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE, a competition advancing pH sensor development to measure ocean acidification.
Dr. Virmani has a Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography from the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida. As a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar, she earned a M.S. in Atmospheric Science from SUNY at Stony Brook. She also has a B.Sc. in Physics from Imperial College London and is an Associate of the Royal College of Science.
Dr. Virmani currently serves on the Catch the Next Wave Committee, the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System Federal Advisory Committee, the National Geographic Executive Committee for Research and Exploration, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute Board, and is an External Advisor to the Seabed 2030 Ocean Frontiers Mapping Committee, and a member of the XPRIZE Climate Brain Trust and the World Economic Forum Global Future Councils. She is a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and The Explorers Club, and a Member of the American Meteorological Society and American Geophysical Union.
In her ‘spare’ time, she has produced an award-winning Science Fiction short film and writes a humorous and informative tropical storms blog.