John Delaney's passion is for the global ocean, the ultimate life-support system of the planet. Since 1997, he has directed development of the regional cabled ocean observatory that evolved from NEPTUNE into the Regional Scale Nodes (RSN) program within the National Science Foundation's Ocean Observatories Initiative. He leads the University of Washington team of scientists and engineers who are designing, building, and installing this first U.S. regional cabled ocean observatory. The RSN network of cables, instruments, sensors, and moorings will enable adaptive, real-time interactive research on energetic and episodic natural phenomena operating throughout the world's oceans. Delaney presents public lectures and talks (TED) in venues around the world on the potential of new technologies to revolutionize ocean science and education.
His honors include:
•2012 - American Geophysical Union Athelstan Spilhaus Award for his contributions to the enhancement of public understanding of the world's oceans
•2006 to present - Jerome M. Paros Endowed Chair in Sensor Networks at the University of Washington
•1995 - Fellow, American Geophysical Union
•1991-1992 - Distinguished Research Award
•1979-1980 - University of Washington Teaching Award.
Delaney began his career working inside active volcanoes on the Galápagos Islands, and also worked as an economic geologist. From there he moved to underwater volcanoes and was Chief Scientist on the cruise that found the first submarine hot spring system on the Endeavour Segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge. In the early 1990s, he realized that understanding the mid-ocean ridges required a multidisciplinary approach, and he initiated the two-decade-long NSF RIDGE Program. He served as the program's first chair in 1988 and continued on the Steering Committee until 1992. In 1994, Delaney founded and led InterRidge, an international organization of >20 nations focused on ridge-crest research. Delaney has also served on several NASA Committees charged with defining the nature of missions to Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, suspected to harbor both a liquid ocean and submarine volcanoes.
Delaney has published more than 100 scientific papers and articles, and has served as chief scientist on more than 45 oceanographic research cruises that have routinely used submersibles and underwater robotic and autonomous vehicles (e.g., Jason, ROPOS, and Sentry). In the summer of 1998, Delaney led a joint expedition with the American Museum of Natural History to successfully recover four volcanic sulfide structures now on display in AMNH's Hall of the Planet Earth. This US/Canadian effort was the subject of a NOVA/PBS and BBC documentary entitled Volcanoes of the Deep.
In September 2005, Delaney co-led the VISIONS'05 research expedition, which successfully broadcast the first-ever live, high-definition video from the seafloor. Scientists, educators, and the general public, viewed the real-time broadcasts from the underwater volcanoes of the Northeast Pacific over cable and satellite television and on the web via the ResearchChannel. It was during the VISIONS '05 expedition that Delaney was inspired to write Theater in the Round: Modern Science at Sea. Based on the successes and reception of the VISIONS '05 broadcasts, the UW team has gone on to host live broadcasts from sea during three other expeditions: Enlighten '10, VISIONS '11, and VISIONS '13.
John is passionate about educating teachers and next-generation scientists about the oceans. During the mid-1990s he co-led the REVEL (Research and Education: Volcanoes, Exploration and Life) program with V. Robigou that brought ~ 80 middle- and high-school teachers on blue-water research expeditions. This program allowed teachers from across the nation to actively participate in scientific inquiry and to work side by side with researchers to develop projects and bring at-sea experiences directly into the classroom. Delaney continues this passion through co-teaching OCEAN 411 Sea-going Research and Discovery. This hands-on class allows undergraduate and graduate students to participate in UW-RSN expeditions and to work alongside engineers, scientists, and the underwater robotic vehicle teams as they work to install the regional cabled observatory. As part of this 1- to 2-quarter-long class students develop and complete science and public engagement projects.