First African American Woman to Dive to the Ocean Floor and Titanic Discoverer to Headline Honorees at AltaSea’s Drive-In Experience, The Blue Hour, on October 10

Dr. Dawn Wright, the first African American female to dive to the ocean floor, and Dr. Robert Ballard, one of the most accomplished deep-sea explorers, to be honored during AltaSea’s first-ever awards show.

LOS ANGELES--()--AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles will honor two ocean exploration pioneers, Dr. Dawn Wright and Dr. Robert Ballard, during their inaugural The Blue Hour, a spectacular drive-in experience focusing on LA as the global capital of the Blue Economy and importance of educating young people on ocean exploration and conservation.

The awards will be the first-ever awards given by AltaSea – a unique public-private ocean institute that convenes and nurtures the best and brightest pioneers and organizations in science, business and education. The three awards – the Explorer Award, the Ocean Innovation Award, and the NextGen Award – serve to recognize those who have both paved the way and inspired the next generation of ocean innovators and explorers through their work.

“AltaSea is honored to recognize the pioneers who have dedicated their careers to exploring the ocean and paving the way for the next generation of ocean scientists and discoverers,” said AltaSea CEO Tim McOsker. “Dr. Wright and Dr. Ballard are innovators in their fields, and AltaSea is fortunate to work with them to make the ocean a place to enjoy for years to come.”

Dr. Dawn Wright will receive the Ocean Innovation Award. Dr. Wright serves as the chief scientist of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri). Early in her career, Dr. Wright became the first African American female to dive to the ocean floor.

She currently plays a critical role at Esri by strengthening the scientific foundation for their software and services. She also represents the company, a world-leading geographic information system software, research and development company, to the international scientific community. Additionally, Dr. Wright is an active board member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other conservation agencies. A professor of Geography and Oceanography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, Dr. Wright was honored as Oregon Professor of the Year in 2007.

Dr. Robert Ballard, founder and president of the Ocean Exploration Trust, has been named the recipient of the Explorer Award. Among the most accomplished deep-sea explorers in the world, Dr. Ballard is best known for his discoveries of the sunken R.M.S. Titanic, the German battleship Bismarck, and numerous other shipwrecks around the world. In addition, Dr. Ballard discovered the deep-sea hydrothermal vents and surrounding biology communities based on chemosynthesis off of the Galapagos Islands. He has received many awards for his work, including the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal from President George W. Bush in 2003.

The recipient of the NextGen Award is a local 4th grader, Avantika Vijesh. Avantika has lent her voice to AltaSea’s Project Blue which gives students the platform to support Los Angeles as the center of Blue Economy and ocean conservation education.

“The youth movement in raising awareness for climate change these past few years has been impressive, and AltaSea knows the next generation of leaders, scientists and policy makers is critically important in our fight to save the ocean,” said McOsker. “Avantika’s passion for the ocean is inspiring, and we know that with people like her, our cause is in good hands.”

Space at the October 10 experience is limited, and tickets can be found here:

About AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles

AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles, a nonprofit corporation, is dedicated to accelerating scientific collaboration, advancing an emerging blue economy through business innovation and job creation, and inspiring the next generation, all for a more sustainable, just, and equitable world.

For more information on AltaSea, please see our website:


Jacob Scott


Jacob Scott