Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Coordinates: 32°51′56″N 117°15′13″W / 32.865437°N 117.253626°W / 32.865437; -117.253626
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Scripps Institution of Oceanography
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
Location, ,

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.
Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography is the center for oceanography and Earth science based at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, California.

Originally founded in 1903, since becoming part of the University of California system in 1912, the institution has expanded its scope to include studies of the physics, chemistry, geology, biology, and climate of Earth.


The 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 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.

In 2007, the family and wife of late Roger Revelle donated 2.5 million dollars toward the Roger Revelle Chair endowed position,[8] which Shang-Ping Xie now holds.

Research programs[edit]

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.[9]

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.[10] The institution operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels.[11]

The Integrated Research Themes [12] 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[edit]

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

Scripps Oceanography is divided into three research sections, each with its own subdivisions:[13]

California Sea Grant[edit]

On October 25, 1973, California Sea Grant became a college (National Sea Grant College Program) administered by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.[14][15]

Research vessels[edit]

Scripps research vessel Roger Revelle

Scripps owns and operates several research vessels and platforms:[16]

Current and previous vessels larger than 50 ft (15 m)
  • 1906–???? – RV Loma
  • 1907–1917 – RV Alexander Agassiz
  • 1918–1918 – RV Ellen Browning
  • 1925–1936 – RV Scripps
  • 1937–1955 – RV E. W. Scripps
  • 1955–1965 – RV Stranger (Operated as USS Jasper from 1941 to 1947 for the UC Division of War Research)
  • 1947–1956 – RV Crest
  • 1947–1969 – RV Horizon
  • 1948–1965 – RV Paolina-T
  • 1951–1965 – RV Spencer F.Baird
  • 1955–1969 – T-441
  • 1956–1962 – RV Orca
  • 1959–1963 – RV Hugh M. Smith
  • 1959–1970 – RV Argo (Official Navy name was Snatch)
  • 1962–1976 – RV Alexander Agassiz
  • 1962–present – RP FLIP
  • 1962–1974 – RV Oconostota (The Oconostota was known as "The Rolling O" because of its unpleasant motion.)
  • 1965–1980 – RV Alpha Helix (Transferred to University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 1980 (UAF sold vessel in 2007 to Stabbert Maritime)
  • 1965–???? – RV Ellen B. Scripps
  • 1966–1992 – RV Thomas Washington (Transferred to Chile and renamed Vidal Gormaz)
  • 1969–2014 – RV Melville
  • 1973–???? – RV Gianna
  • 1978–2015 – RV New Horizon
  • 1984–present – RV Robert Gordon Sproul
  • 1995–present – RV Roger Revelle
  • 2016–present – RV Sally Ride
  • 2019–present - RV Bob and Betty Beyster

Birch Aquarium at Scripps[edit]

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

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.[17]

Notable faculty members (past and present)[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Popular culture[edit]

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.[20] In 2008, Scripps Institution of Oceanography was the subject of a category on the TV game show Jeopardy!.[21] Scripps has been a story element in numerous fictional works.[22]

2023 grad student low-wage protest[edit]

In June 2023, two graduate students and one recent graduate were arrested at their homes by University of California Police and held in custody overnight.[23] They face two felony charges of criminal vandalism and criminal conspiracy related to a May 30 protest where the accused allegedly protested low graduate student wages by writing chalk messages on a newly opened building. The University alleges $12,000 in damages related to this incident.[24] Union leadership in UAW 2865 and 5810, the local union chapters representing the arrested workers, accuse the University of California of retaliation[25] and reneging on the contracts signed at the conclusion of the 2022 UC academic workers' strike.[26] On July 10, 2023, hundreds of protesters gathered at San Diego's Central Courthouse to protest the arrests, however in a written statement the San Diego District Attorney's office said the arraignment would not move forward because the case had not been submitted to its office for review.[27][28] However, university officials have up to three years to file charges and on July 18, 2023 UCPD obtained a warrant and searched a fourth student's house for evidence of chalk or union affiliation in relation to the May 30 incident.[29]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ Clark, Cindy (2007-05-22). "Revelle Family Endows UC San Diego Chair Honoring Roger Revelle, World-Renowned Oceanographer & Leader in Climate Change Research | Scripps Institution of Oceanography". Retrieved 2023-12-26.
  9. ^ "Education". Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 2013-03-07. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
  10. ^ "Mission and Quick Facts | Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego". Retrieved 2017-01-20.
  11. ^ "Ships". Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 2013-01-17. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
  12. ^ "Integrated Research Themes". Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
  13. ^ "Research Sections". 2013-05-16.
  14. ^ "California". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  15. ^ "History". California Sea Grant. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  16. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "Klaus Hasselmann". Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  19. ^ 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).
  20. ^ "We Fact Checked Aaron Sorkin's Climate Science on "The Newsroom"". Mother Jones.
  21. ^ "What is... A Night in the Spotlight?". 2013-11-20.
  22. ^ "Scripps Institution of Oceanography". EScholarship.
  23. ^ (2023-07-01). "UC San Diego student workers arrested after allegations of conspiracy and vandalism". KPBS Public Media. Retrieved 2023-07-26. {{cite web}}: External link in |last= (help)
  24. ^ "UC San Diego Statement via University Communications". Retrieved 2023-07-26.
  25. ^ "The University of California Is Escalating Its Crackdown on Dissent". In These Times. 2023-07-04. Retrieved 2023-07-26.
  26. ^ Lucas, Peter (2023-07-11). "California Grad Students Won a Historic Strike. UC San Diego Is Striking Back With Misconduct Allegations and Arrests". The Intercept. Retrieved 2023-07-26.
  27. ^ Sridhar • •, Priya (2023-07-10). "UC San Diego students, alum accused of felony for 'chalking' slogans on campus". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved 2023-07-26.
  28. ^ (2023-07-11). "Crowd gathers at downtown SD courthouse in protest of UCSD student worker arrests". KPBS Public Media. Retrieved 2023-07-26. {{cite web}}: External link in |last= (help)
  29. ^ "". Twitter. Retrieved 2023-07-26. {{cite web}}: External link in |title= (help)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]