Dr. John R. Smith has served as the Marine Geophysical Specialist and the Science Program Director for the University of Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL). He has used various acoustical and in situ methods to study the seafloor and sub-seafloor in many of the world’s oceans, specializing in multibeam bathymetry and backscatter data collection, processing, and interpretation. His research projects have focused on the mapping of seamounts and the unstable flanks of oceanic islands that can fail and cause tsunamis. Dr. Smith has also become involved in deep and shallow-water benthic habitat mapping in support of fisheries assessment and management, along with other special applied research projects such as environmental and engineering studies prior to seafloor mining, the laying of under water power cables, and seawater A/C pipelines. As more areas of the high seas have been set aside as Marine National Monuments or other protected area designations, he has focused on projects in these regions, providing critical baseline and other data to accelerate discovery, delineate features for more targeted study, and assist with resource management.
John received his Bachelor of Science degree in Geological Oceanography from Florida Tech, worked in the offshore petroleum exploration survey industry for several years in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, and then returned to graduate school at the University of Hawaii at Manoa for his Masters and Doctoral degrees, both in Geological Oceanography as well, and eventually a position with HURL. There, he managed the sea floor mapping program, carries out data processing and research, and served in the role of scientific manager, administering all aspects of the science program including peer reviews, panels, scientific equipment upgrades, scheduling of field programs, and functioned as the liaison between scientists, operations, and administration. A bonus of his career path is that he gets to sail to remote areas not often visited, dive in human occupied submersibles, and occasionally operate underwater robotic vehicles.