Dr. Robert Ballard

Founder and Chief Scientist, Immersion Presents President, Institute for Exploration

Q. How and where do you conduct your work?

A. I’ve worked in oceans all over the world—using ships, submersibles, and remotely operated vehicles. These days I can do a lot of my work without actually being at sea. I use telepresence to participate in expeditions that are taking place thousands of miles away. I can sit in front of a command console at the Inner Space Center in Rhode Island that is exactly the same as the command console on an oceanographic research vessel. It’s quite a thrill to do research in deep, remote areas of the ocean during the day and then sleep in my own bed at night.

Q. What do you like the best about your job?

A. I love to explore, make new discoveries, and share those discoveries with the rest of the world. I also enjoy inspiring the next generation of explorers!

Q. What do you like the least about your job?

A. I don’t like being away from my family, but with the telepresence science that I’m pioneering, I don’t have to be away nearly as much as I used to.

Q. Why do research in the ocean in general and in the Monterey Bay region specifically?

A. The ocean covers the majority of planet Earth and yet we’ve explored only a small fraction of it. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is an amazing place because it has really interesting geology and a huge variety of ecosystems, all packed into a relatively small area. A big interest of mine is making the national marine sanctuaries as accessible to the public as our national parks. The telepresence system in place in Monterey Bay is getting us one step closer to that, which is really exciting. Also, I grew up in San Diego, so the waters of California have always been near and dear to my heart!

JASON Learning: A Partnership of Sea Research Foundation and National Geographic