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Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Scripps Institution of Oceanography logo.png
Former names
Marine Biological Association of San Diego
Scripps Institution for Biological Research[1]
Parent institution
University of California San Diego
DirectorMargaret Leinen[2]
Academic staff
Administrative staff
32°51′56″N 117°15′13″W / 32.865437°N 117.253626°W / 32.865437; -117.253626Coordinates: 32°51′56″N 117°15′13″W / 32.865437°N 117.253626°W / 32.865437; -117.253626
A view of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2011, taken from the Birch Aquarium.
A view of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2011, taken from the Birch Aquarium.
Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier
Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography (sometimes referred to as SIO, Scripps Oceanography, or Scripps) in San Diego, California, founded in 1903, is one of the oldest and largest centers for ocean and Earth science research, public service, undergraduate and graduate training in the world. Hundreds of ocean and Earth scientists conduct research with the aid of oceanographic research vessels and shorebased laboratories. Its Old Scripps Building is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. SIO is a division of the University of California San Diego (UCSD). The public explorations center of the institution is the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Since becoming part of the University of California in 1912, the institution has expanded its scope to include studies of the physics, chemistry, geology, biology, and climate of Earth.

Dr. Margaret Leinen took office as Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Dean of the Graduate School of Marine Sciences on October 1, 2013.[2]

Scripps publishes explorations now, an e-magazine of ocean and earth science.


Scripps Institution of Oceanography was founded in 1903 as the Marine Biological Association of San Diego, an independent biological research laboratory. It was proposed and incorporated by a committee of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, led by local activist and amateur malacologist Fred Baker, together with two colleagues. He recruited University of California Zoology professor William Emerson Ritter to head up the proposed marine biology institution, and obtained financial support from local philanthropists E. W. Scripps and his sister Ellen Browning Scripps. They fully funded the institution for its first decade. It began institutional life in the boathouse of the Hotel del Coronado located on San Diego Bay. It re-located in 1905 to the La Jolla area on the head above La Jolla Cove, and finally in 1907 to its present location.[4]

In 1912 Scripps became incorporated into the University of California and was renamed the "Scripps Institution for Biological Research."[1] Since 1916, measurements have been taken daily at its pier.[5] The name was changed to Scripps Institution of Oceanography in October 1925.[1] During the 1960s, led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography director Roger Revelle, it formed the nucleus for the creation of the University of California, San Diego on a bluff overlooking Scripps Institution.

The Old Scripps Building, designed by Irving Gill, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1982.[6][7] Architect Barton Myers designed the current Scripps Building for the Institution of Oceanography in 1998.

Research programs

Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers at sea
Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers at sea

The institution's research programs encompass biological, physical, chemical, geological, and geophysical studies of the oceans and land. Scripps also studies the interaction of the oceans with both the atmospheric climate and environmental concerns on terra firma. Related to this research, Scripps offers undergraduate and graduate degrees.[8]

Today, the Scripps staff of 1,300 includes approximately 235 faculty, 180 other scientists and some 350 graduate students, with an annual budget of more than $281 million.[9]The institution operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels.[10]

The Integrated Research Themes [11] encompassing the work done by Scripps researchers are Biodiversity and Conservation, California Environment, Earth and Planetary Chemistry, Earth Through Space and Time, Energy and the Environment, Environment and Human Health, Global Change, Global Environmental Monitoring, Hazards, Ice and Climate, Instruments and Innovation, Interfaces, Marine Life, Modeling Theory and Computing, Sound and Light and the Sea, and Waves and Circulation.

Organizational structure

Scripps Oceanography is divided into three research sections, each with its own subdivisions:[12]

Research vessels

Scripps research vessel Roger Revelle
Scripps research vessel Roger Revelle

Scripps owns and operates several research vessels and platforms:[13]

Current and previous vessels larger than 50 ft (15 m)

Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Birch Aquarium at Scripps, with the Village of La Jolla in the background
Birch Aquarium at Scripps, with the Village of La Jolla in the background

Main article: Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the public exploration center for the institution, features a Hall of Fishes with more than 60 tanks of Pacific fishes and invertebrates from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest to the tropical waters of Mexico and the IndoPacific, a 13,000-gallon local shark and ray exhibit, interactive tide pools, and interactive science exhibits.[14]

Notable faculty members (past and present)

Notable alumni

Popular culture

In 2014, the institution and its Keeling Curve measurement of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were featured as a plot point in an episode of HBO's The Newsroom.[17] In 2008, Scripps Institution of Oceanography was the subject of a category on the TV game show Jeopardy!.[18] Scripps has been a story element in numerous fictional works.[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Scripps history.
  2. ^ a b "Director's Biography". 2022-01-01.
  3. ^ a b c "About Scripps Oceanography". Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  4. ^ Shragge, Abraham J.; Dietze, Kay (Spring 2003). "Character, Vision, and Creativity: The Extraordinary Confluence of Forces that Gave Rise to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography". Journal of San Diego History. 49 (2).
  5. ^ Graff, Amy (15 August 2018). "81-degree reading likely sets record for highest temperature ever measured in California waters". SFGate. San Francisco. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  6. ^ "Old Scripps Building". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
  7. ^ James H. Charleton (February 12, 1982). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Scripps, George H., Memorial Marine Biological Laboratory / Old Scripps Building" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-06-22. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help) and Accompanying 10 or so photos, exterior and interior, from 1977, 1980, and undated (2.83 MB)
  8. ^ "Education". Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 2013-03-07. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
  9. ^ "Mission and Quick Facts | Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego". Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  10. ^ "Ships". Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 2013-01-17. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
  11. ^ "Integrated Research Themes". Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
  12. ^ "Research Sections". 2013-05-16.
  13. ^ SIO Timeline, from SIO Archives, UCSD online collection. Shor, E., Scripps in the 1950s: A Decade of Bluewater Oceanography, Journal of San Diego History, v29:4, 1983. Shor, E., SIO: Probing the oceans 1936–1976, Tofua Press, San Diego, 1978.
  15. ^ "Klaus Hasselmann". Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  16. ^ J. Baylor Roberts, "An Artist Fashions Replicas of Strange Sea Dwellers" a photograph accompanying "La Jolla, a Gem of the California Coast" National Geographic (December 1952).
  17. ^ "We Fact Checked Aaron Sorkin's Climate Science on "The Newsroom"". Mother Jones.
  18. ^ "What is... A Night in the Spotlight?". 2013-11-20.
  19. ^ "Scripps Institution of Oceanography". EScholarship.

Further reading