[ skip to content ]

Departmental History

First established in 1969 as the Institute of Oceanography, the Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences moved into a new building on the Old Dominion University campus in Norfolk in 1997. New facilities contain laboratories for biological, chemical and geological studies. In 1991, the Commonwealth Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography began operation in a building near the campus and houses all of the physical oceanography laboratories.

The Department maintains a 55-foot research vessel, the R/V Fay Slover. Smaller vessels, suitable for near shore investigations, are also maintained by the department. Research requiring larger vessels is made possible through the cooperation of such government agencies such as NSF and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Old Dominion University is a member of CRC (Chesapeake Research Consortium), COL (Consortium for Ocean Research and Education) and an associate member of UNOLS (University National Oceanographic Laboratory System), and of the University for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).

Norfolk, Virginia is one of seven major cities comprising Hampton Roads, one of the world's largest major seaports. Norfolk is the center of this Eastern Virginia region and the hub of the world's largest natural harbor. It is a major center of research and development and a home for extensive scientific and technological activities in marine science, aerospace technology, ship design and construction, advanced electronics and nuclear physics. NASA-Langley, the birthplace of the space program, is located in Hampton, Virginia.

Jacques Zaneveld

Jacques Simon Zaneveld served from 1959-1975 as a faculty member and Chairman of the Biology Department and founder of the Department of Oceanography. The interview discusses Zaneveld's background in the Netherlands, various research grants and projects, expeditions to the Antarctic (where the "Zaneveld Glacier" was established in his name), the development of oceanography at ODU, changes to the Biology Department, and environmental concerns.

Ludwick Lecture

by Donald Swift

I first met Jack Ludwick in 1966, when I was an assistant Professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, and he was head of Geological Research at Gulf Oil Research Laboratory in Pittsburgh. I answered a want ad and was invited to the laboratory for an interview. The meeting was pure Ludwick. Jack told me what he and his lab were doing, on and on, in meticulous and exhaustive detail, until my head fairly swam, then abruptly asked me what I was doing: I came belatedly awake with the feeling that a steel trap had just clanked shut on me.

Jack's history as I know it starts in World War II when he was an Air Force weather officer, stationed on a Pacific island. Jack did not see combat. After the war, he got his degree at Scripps in the 50's from Francis Shepard, the "Father of Marine Geology." Those were truly the early days. There weren't any dedicated oceanographic vessels then, so Shepard, a wealthy New Englander, simply bought a yacht. Jack, like Francis Shepard, was from a well to do background (but in California) and like him was fiercely independent; they got along well. Jack's great formative experience with Shepard was being brought up seasick, on the deck of the ship, being given asextant, and told to find himself. In turn, every student that Jack Ludwick ever had went through this ritual.

Jack Ludwick became Director of the Institute of Oceanography at ODU in 1968. When I got to ODU (for the first of two times as a faculty member) in the summer of 1968, Jack wasn't there yet. Ron Johnson arrived several weeks after I did. Jacques Zaneveld was still the Director of the Institute of Oceanography. Until my arrival, he had been the entire faculty.

Jacques was a crusty old Dutchman who did not get along with the Dean of Science. The Dean, Melvin Pitman, was a Virginian with a broad country accent, a cheerfully domineering man who rather reminded me of Nikita Kruschev. My memory on this (I must be confusing the two men) says that he once took off his shoe and banged it on the table, something that Nikita Kruschev actually did. I met Jake Becher and George Ofelt then, the dean's bright young men, whom he had just installed in the Physics Department. Jake is still in the Physics Department, and George, until recently, was our optical oceanographer. At any rate, Zaneveld didn't get along with the dean, and in fairness to the dean, Zaneveld was probably a better scientist than administrator (he was an algologist, who sent students down to dive through the Antarctic ice to find macroalgae).

The dean wanted someone who could drive the expansion of the Institute with the New Slover Money. When he turned to Jack Ludwick he probably got both more and less than he bargained for. The contrast between the emotional, expansive, politicking and not very polished dean, and my reserved, conservative, urbane and stubborn new colleague was even more striking than the contrast between Pitman and Zaneveld. Jack hated being pressured and the dean loved to coerce people. But Jack was a scientist's scientist. The dean had hired him on the strength of his Scripp's credentials, and Jack didn't let him down on academic issues.

Jack wanted to instrument the Bay Bridge Tunnel in 1968. He called his Scripps classmate Harris B. Stewart ("Stew"), then head of Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories in Miami. Stew's response was tepid, and I could sense Jack's frustration. Intellectually, Jack knew that he ought to pull strings and use his connections but he detested the process and was not good at it. Ironically, Stew, the ultimate political animal, wound up, vision-handicapped and semiretired, as the somewhat superfluous marine science director at ODU for several years.
The students tell a story about Jack and me dating from this time that is wrong in all its details, but truly captures the difference in our temperaments. Jack was determined to get basic science out of his "back garden," lower Chesapeake Bay.

We went out on the Holton, and emplaced current meters on the Sand Wave Fields, the students and I often dove to inspect the bottom. The story has Jack asking me to take notes as the equipment went over the side, and reports Jack's horror as I produced a book of paper matches, ripped off the cover, and proceeded to take notes on it with a pencil stub.

The details are wrong because the story takes place too late in our relationship to be true. During his first weeks as the new Director, Jack carried a notebook, producing it to take notes whenever he learned something else about his new kingdom. I was so impressed that I have been carrying a notebook ever since, and would have had one during the Holton episode, but there is a psychological truth to the story just the same.

Jack wrote relatively few papers. He polished them slowly and carefully, partly because it was his nature to do things slowly and carefully, and partly because he made such great demands on himself and others. He assumed that reviewers would also make great demands and would attack him harshly. In many respects, Jack was his own worst enemy. But his papers are still read. In the early sixties, Jack would have described himself as a sedimentologist, as I would have, because the leading edge of our discipline at that time dealt with sedimentary petrography and related topics. As the decade progressed, we both became involved in sediment dynamics, the emerging synthesis of sedimentology with boundary layer physics. Jack's mathematical skills were strong; while I poked determinedly ahead into this new region, he could freely fly. Jack also had a good intuitive sense of science and could see the directions in which to move. He was in many respects a mentor to me at that time.

Jack was very conservative. He liked to describe himself as an "economic royalist", a term that Franklin Roosevelt had used to scornfully lash out at business interests who had opposed him. Jack could say some startling things, what Sandy, my wife (who was fond of him), called his "clunky remarks". I can remember his explaining to me and an astonished departmental secretary why Apartheid was a fair and appropriate policy for South Africa to pursue. If there was a coherent thread to the "clunky remarks," it was a respect for authority, no matter whether its policy was appropriate or not. Two souls shared Jack, one authoritarian and one libertarian, and when the dean told Jack to do something particularly stupid, the conflict between these halves of my friend fairly led to steam coming out of his ears.

Jack had an esthetic side. He liked the opera, and he liked going to concerts. He once told me how he and his wife Nora drove through the nearly deserted streets of Pittsburgh during a heavy snowstorm to go to a Sunday performance of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Only the true diehards were there, he said. Yet Jack's approach to art was distinctly Ludwickian. Jack and I used to eat lunch in the faculty dining room at Webb Center (it was the Student Center then; Louis Webb, another old-time Virginian, was still President) We often ate with Wayne Bowman from the English Department. One day, Jack explained to us that he was very interested in the novel, and wanted to get a list of the 100 best novels to read. Wayne and I scoffed; that wasn't the way to approach the novel and there probably wasn't any such list, we said. Jack spent the afternoon in the library, and the next day triumphantly appeared at lunch with somebody's list of the 100 most important novels. But the 19th century heyday of the novel failed to hold Jack's attention. It was the French post- modernist novels that engaged him, mainly because these people were experimental. Jack told me about one such novel that was unpaged and unbound; you could read the pages in any order. Jack generally didn't have much of an ear for poetry, although he was interested in the French Symbolist poets Verlaine and Malarme; these were the "slide rule" poets who hoped to synthesize poetry and mathematics. This was another side of Jack emerging; the radical frozen inside the conservative. Jack disapproved of tradition. He had little interest in history and scoffed at religion ("But how could you listen to the sermon, Don...").

We survivors honor the dead with our memories. At least once a week, I still have an argument with Jack Ludwick.

This piece was written by Dr. Swift, now Professor Emeritus, who at the time was Eminent Professor and Slover Chair of Oceanography. It began as a speech delivered at the Department's Ludwick Dinner in 1995. Then-Assistant Professor Fred Dobbs, editor of the newsletter, cajoled Dr. Swift into writing it down.

Year Lecturer Affiliation (at the time)
2022 Dr. Jaia Savitsky University of Colorado Boulder
2021 Cancelled given COVID-19
2020 Cancelled given COVID-19
2019 Gideon Henderson University of Oxford
2018 Kevin Trenberth National Corporation for Atmospheric Research
2017 Michael R. Landry Scripps Institution of Oceanography
2016 William Ruddiman University of Virginia
2015 Robert Anderson Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
2014 George Philander Princeton University


Lisa Levin

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

2012 Andrew H. Knoll Harvard University
2011 Christopher German Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
2010 William Jenkins Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
2009 Kerry A. Emanuel Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2008 Mimi Koehl University of California, Berkley
2007 Bruce Runnegar University of California, Los Angeles
2006 Edward Boyle Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2005 Robert Beardsley Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
2004 Hans Paerl University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2003 William Curry Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
2002 John Hedges University of Washington
2001 Rana Fine University of Miami
2000 Robert Dean University of Florida
1999 David Karl University of Hawaii
1998 Ken Bruland University of California, Santa Cruz
1997 Joe Reid Scripps Institution of Oceanography
1996 Rudy Slingerland Pennsylvania State University
1995 Frederick Grassle Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
1994 John Bane University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
1993 Karl Turekian Yale University
1992 Margaret Leinen University of Rhode Island
1991 Eric Mills Dalhousie University
1990 Peter Brewer Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
1989 Kirk Bryan Princeton University
1988 Charles Nittrouer University of New York at Stony Brook

Handin, J.W., Ludwick, J.C. and Krumbein, W.C., 1950. Discussion of "Pulsational transport of sand by shore agents". Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, 31(6), pp.936-937.

Menard, H.W. and Ludwick, J.C., 1951. Applications of hydraulics to the study of marine turbidity currents. Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, Special Publication No. 2, pp. 2-13.

Ludwick, J.C., 1956. A volumeter for measuring porosity of incoherent sands. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 26(3).

Ludwick, J.C. and Walton, W.R., 1957. Shelf-edge, calcareous prominences in northeastern Gulf of Mexico. AAPG Bulletin, 41(9), pp.2054-2101.

Glezen, W.H. and Ludwick, J.C., 1963. An automated grain-shape classifier. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 33(1).

Levinson, A.A. and Ludwick, J.C., 1966. Speculation on the incorporation of boron into argillaceous sediments. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 30(9), pp.855-861.

Ludwick, J.C. and Henderson, P.L., 1968. Particle shape and inference of size from sieving. Sedimentology, 11(3‐4), pp.197-235.

Ludwick, J.C., 1970. Sand waves in the tidal entrance to Chesapeake Bay: Preliminary observations. Chesapeake Science, 11(2), pp.98-110.

Ludwick, J.C., 1971. Particle shape; classification of thickness using slotted screens. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 41(1), pp.19-29.

Bowker, D.E., Fleischer, P., Gosink, T.A., Hanna, W.J. and Ludwick, J.C., 1973. Transmissometry and suspended matter in lower Chesapeake Bay-Correlation with ERTS multispectral imagery.

Bowker, D.E., Fleischer, P., Gosink, T.A., Hanna, W.J. and Ludwick, J.C., 1973. Correlation of ERTS multispectral imagery with suspended matter and chlorophyll in Lower Chesapeake Bay.

Ludwick, J.C., 1974. Tidal currents and zig-zag sand shoals in a wide estuary entrance. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 85(5), pp.717-726.

Ludwick, J.C. and Wells, J.T., 1974. Particle Size Distribution and Small-Scale Bed-Forms on Sand Waves, Chesapeake Bay Entrance (No. TR-12). OLD DOMINION UNIV NORFOLK VA INST OF OCEANOGRAPHY.

Wells, J.T. and Ludwick, J.C., 1974. Application of multiple comparisons to grain size on sand waves. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 44(4).

Ludwick, J.C., 1975. Variations in the boundary-drag coefficient in the tidal entrance to Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. Marine Geology, 19(1), pp.19-28.

Ludwick Jr, J.C., 1976. Bus priority systems: simulation and analysis (No. UMTA-VA-06-0026-76-1Final Rpt.).

Ludwick, J.C., 1978. Coastal currents and an associated sand stream off Virginia Beach, Virginia. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 83(C5), pp.2365-2372.

Granat, M.A. and Ludwick, J.C., 1980. Perpetual shoals at the entrance to Chesapeake Bay: Flow-Substrate interactions and mutually evasive net currents. Marine Geology, 36(3-4), pp.307-323.

Ludwick, J.C., 1981. Bottom sediments and depositional rates near Thimble shoal channel, lower Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 92(7), pp.496-506.

Ludwick, J.C. and Domurat, G.W., 1982. A deterministic model of the vertical component of sediment motion in a turbulent fluid. Marine Geology, 45(1-2), pp.1-15.

Perillo, G.M. and Ludwick, J.C., 1984. Turbulence measurements over a sand wave in lower Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, USA. Marine geology, 59(1-4), pp.283-304.

Shideler, G.L., Ludwick, J.C., Oertel, G.F. and Finkelstein, K., 1984. Quaternary stratigraphic evolution of the southern Delmarva Peninsula coastal zone, Cape Charles, Virginia. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 95(4), pp.489-502.

Perillo, G.M. and Ludwick, J.C., 1984. Geomorphology of a sand wave in lower Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, USA. Geo-marine letters, 4(2), pp.105-112.

Timpy, D.L. and Ludwick, J.C., 1985. Bore Height Measurement with Improved Wavestaff. Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal, and Ocean Engineering, 111(3), pp.495-510.

JC Ludwick Memorial

Site Navigation

Presidential Inauguration

ODU commemorated the inauguration of President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., during Homecoming Weekend 2022. Relive the historic weekend.

Fall Open House

It's time to fall in love with ODU! Join us for our last Open House event of the semester on Saturday, November 19.

Commencement 2022

Visit the Commencement Office for information on event times, caps & gowns, tickets and more!