Mathias Medal 1997
William Hargis, Jr.
Researcher Donald W. Pritchard won the first Mathias Medal, in recognition of scientific excellence and outstanding contributions to our understanding of the Chesapeake Bay.
Because of his seminal work dealing with the fundamental characteristics of the Chesapeake Bay during the early years of Bay research, Pritchard was seen as a highly deserving recipient by the selection committee, which was itself made up of well-known scientists and other leaders in the Bay community.
Pritchard, an internationally acclaimed physical oceanographer, developed a classification scheme (now a textbook standard) for the water circulation processes of the Chesapeake as well as other estuarine systems. He served as director of The Johns Hopkins University's Chesapeake Bay Institute from 1949 to 1973 and as the senior research scientist there from 1973 until 1979. In those capacities, and as chairman of The Johns Hopkins Department of Oceanography from 1950 to 1968, he helped establish the scientific agenda and management policy for the Chesapeake.
He most recently served as a professor and dean at the Marine Science Research Center at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Originally trained as a meteorologist at U.C.L.A., Pritchard forecasted sea and swell conditions for amphibious landing operations in Normandy and the Pacific during World War II. He received his Ph.D. in oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, La Jolla in 1952.
Pritchard has served on numerous regional, national and international boards, com-missions and committees and has provided expert testimony on coastal matters. Among the many honors he has received are the Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from the College of William and Mary in 1985 and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region II Annual Environmental Award in 1987.
Highlights of the awards ceremony, held at the National Aquarium in Baltimore on the evening of December 5th, 1990, were the introductory remarks made by Pritchard's long-time friend and fellow Bay researcher, Dr. Eugene Cronin, and the remarks Pritchard made himself as he accepted the award.
The Mathias Medal was sponsored by the Sea Grant programs of Maryland and Virginia and by the Chesapeake Research Consortium, whose members include the major research institutions in the Bay region. Senator Mathias' son, Charlie Mathias, Jr., who had joined his father on a series of voyages during the 1970s to investigate the Bay's health, presented the award to Professor Pritchard.