Working from a Sailboat

Larry Mayer and Val Schmidt


Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 3:00pm
Chase 130

A CCOM double feature! Director Larry Mayer and Research Project Engineer Val Schmidt both worked aboard sailing vessels this summer and will share their experiences. Larry will present, "Mapping the Northern Margin of Greenland and Searching for the Vega from the 51’ Sailboat Explorer of Sweden," while Val will present, "Journey to the Aegean: Searching for Ancient Civilization Aboard the STS Bodrum."


Larry Mayer has a broad-based background in marine geology and geophysics that is reflected in his association with both the Ocean Engineering and Earth Science Departments.

He graduated magna cum laude with an Honors degree in Geology from the University of Rhode Island in 1973 and received a Ph.D. from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in Marine Geophysics in 1979. At Scripps his schizophrenic future was determined as he worked with the Marine Physical Laboratory's Deep-Tow Geophysical package, but applied this sophisticated acoustic sensor to problems of the history of ocean climate. After being selected as an astronaut candidate finalist for NASA's first class of mission specialists, he went on to a Post-Doc at the School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island where he worked on problems of deep-sea sediment transport and paleoceanography of the equatorial Pacific.

In 1982, he became an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Oceanography at Dalhousie University and, in 1991, moved to the University of New Brunswick to take up the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Ocean Mapping.

In 2000, he became the founding director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire and the co-director of the NOAA/UNH Joint Hydrographic Center. Dr. Mayer has participated in more than 90 cruises (over 70 months at sea!) during the last 40 years and has been chief or co-chief scientist of numerous expeditions including two legs of the Ocean Drilling Program and seven cruises on the USCG Icebreaker Healy mapping unexplored regions of the Arctic seafloor in support of a potential U.S. submission for an extended continental shelf under the Law of the Sea Treaty.

Dr. Mayer has served on, or chaired, far too many international panels and committees and has the requisite large number of publications on a variety of topics in marine geology and geophysics. He is the recipient of the Keen Medal for Marine Geology, an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Stockholm, the University of New Hampshire's Excellence in Research Award and the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography's Distinguished Alumni Award. He served on the President's Panel for Ocean Exploration, and chaired a National Academy of Sciences committee on "National Needs for Coastal Mapping and Charting.” He is currently co-chairing NOAA's Ocean Exploration Advisory Working Group and chairing the National Academy of Sciences committee on the “Impacts of Deepwater Horizon on the Ecosystem Services of the Gulf of Mexico.

His research deals with sonar imaging, remote characterization of the seafloor, advanced applications of 3-and 4-D visualization to ocean mapping problems and of late, applications of seafloor mapping to Law of the Sea issues.

Val Schmidt received his Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of the South, Sewanee, TN in 1994. During his junior undergraduate year, he joined the Navy and served as an officer in the submarine fleet aboard the USS HAWKBILL from 1994 to 1999. In 1998 and 1999, the USS HAWKBILL participated in two National Science Foundation sponsored “SCICEX” missions to conduct seafloor mapping from the submarine under the Arctic ice sheet. Val served as Sonar and Science Liaison Officer during these missions. Val left the Navy in 1999 to work for Qwest Communications as a telecommunications and Voice Over IP engineer from 2000 to 2002. In 2002, Val began work as a research engineer for the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University where he provided engineering support both on campus and to several research vessels in the academic research fleet. Val acted as a technical lead aboard the US Coast Guard Icebreaker HEALY over several summer cruises in this role.

Val completed his Master’s Degree in Ocean Engineering from the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire in 2008. His thesis involved development of an underwater acoustic positioning system for whales that had been tagged with an acoustic recording sensor package.  Val continues to work as an engineer with the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping where his research focuses on seafloor and water column mapping from autonomous underwater vehicles, sensor development and sonar signal processing.