September 21, 2021

MBARI President Chris Scholin receives the Lockheed Martin Award for Ocean Science and Engineering

The Marine Technology Society has recognized MBARI President Chris Scholin with the Lockheed Martin Award for Ocean Science and Engineering at the OCEANS 2021 San Diego – Porto conference. Image: © 2014 MBARI

MBARI President Chris Scholin is the 2021 recipient of the Lockheed Martin Award for Ocean Science and Engineering. The Marine Technology Society (MTS) presents the award annually to an individual who has demonstrated the highest degree of technical accomplishment in the field of marine science, engineering, or technology.

The award recognizes Scholin’s significant contributions to the development of autonomous technology for studying environmental DNA, or eDNA. His vision inspired the innovative Environmental Sample Processor (ESP). This “lab in a can” collects water samples to detect drifting bits of genetic material. MBARI has successfully deployed the ESP in marine and freshwater systems. This groundbreaking tool can warn about human health threats like blooms of toxic algae.

“It’s truly an honor to receive this award from the Marine Technology Society. It goes without saying that the development of the ESP technology has been a team effort, which is exactly what David Packard intended when he founded MBARI—scientists and engineers working together to advance ocean exploration, discovery, and stewardship,” said Scholin. “We are hopeful this technology can help transform resource management practices and inform ocean conservation.”

The Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) is a collaborative effort among a team of scientists and engineers at MBARI. Image: © 2013 MBARI

The society celebrated Scholin’s work to foster and promote a shared vision for how to advance and disseminate ocean technology. The Marine Technology Society highlighted his assistance to NOAA and others in their strategic developments for genomics, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence.

Scholin became the President and CEO of MBARI in 2009. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation and Consortium for Ocean Leadership

The $2,500 award and recognition piece were presented on Tuesday, September 21, during the OCEANS 2021 San Diego – Porto Conference in San Diego, California, following the MTS Annual Meeting. Scholin attended the ceremony virtually to accept the award.

MBARI Senior Scientist Bruce Robison won the Lockheed Martin Award for Ocean Science and Engineering in 2002, and James Bellingham—previously Director of Engineering at MBARI and now at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Assured Autonomy—also won in 2004.

Article by Madison Pobis

For additional information or images relating to this article, please send an email to