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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Oceanography dean elected Fellow of Royal Society

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

Members have included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein


NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – June 20, 2006 – David Farmer, dean of the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the world’s most distinguished scientific academy and the oldest such organization in continuous existence.

“This is a highly prestigious society, and Dean Farmer’s induction is a strong testimony to the quality and value of his work,” said M. Beverly Swan, URI provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We are honored to have him at URI's Graduate School of Oceanography. He is a valued colleague and leader.”

Founded in 1660, the Royal Society is an independent academy promoting the natural and applied sciences. Fellows are elected for life by peer review, and have included most of the leading scientists in the world throughout history, including Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. There are currently more than 60 Nobel Laureates among the Society's approximately 1400 Fellows and Foreign Members.

A resident of South Kingstown, Farmer is one of 44 Fellows and six Foreign Members elected in May for their contributions to science. He was recognized as “the world leader in the use of acoustics to study the oceans, through both the development of instrumentation and the interpretation of data.” His work has led to new insights on coastal oceanography, air-sea interaction in storms and related fields.

“The Royal Society is a wonderful institution, famous for its support of excellence in science, and I am delighted to join its ranks,” said Farmer. “In large measure this recognition is a tribute to the collective achievements of the many talented students and colleagues with whom I have enjoyed working over the past thirty years.”

Farmer became dean of URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography in 2001. Previously he had been a senior scientist at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in British Columbia, one of Canada’s largest marine institutes, where he led an active graduate student program through the University of Victoria.

A native of the United Kingdom, Farmer received bachelor's and master's degrees from oMcGill University and a doctorate from the University of British Columbia. His research interests include the study of upper ocean physics, internal waves, coastal flows, ocean acoustics, the study of lakes, sea-ice, fjord circulation, long range detection of fish populations, the impact of noise on marine mammal communication and related topics. He has a particular interest in the application of acoustical techniques to ocean research and has explored their use in topics ranging from ocean surface bubble populations to the fracturing of sea ice.

He is a recipient of the Rosenstiel Award for Marine Science, The Oceanography Society's Walter Munk Award, and the Canadian Oceanographic and Meteorological Society's President's Prize. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a life member of the Oceanography Society, a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, and a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.