John A. Knauss

John Atkinson Knauss (September 1, 1925 – November 19, 2015) was an American oceanographer, meteorologist and former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 1989 to 1993.[1]

John A. Knauss
John A Knauss NOAA.jpg
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
6th Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
In office
PresidentGeorge H.W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Preceded byWilliam Eugene Evans
Succeeded byD. James Baker
Personal details
Born(1925-09-01)September 1, 1925
Detroit, Michigan
DiedNovember 19, 2015(2015-11-19) (aged 90)
Saunderstown, Rhode Island
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Michigan
University of California
Occupationoceanographer, meteorologist, physicist, professor

Knauss received a Bachelor of Science in meteorology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Master of Science from University of Michigan in physics, and a Ph.D in oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California. While a graduate student, he made the first comprehensive measurements of the Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent.[2] Knauss's PhD dissertation focused on the Equatorial Undercurrent in the Pacific Ocean, also known as the Cromwell Current.[3] In 1962 he was appointed the Dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island and served there until 1987.[4]

Knauss and Athelstan Spilhaus, Dean at University of Minnesota and head of the National Academy Science Committee on Oceanography, worked to establish the National Sea Grant Program, cooperating with Senator Claiborne Pell, the sponsor of the National Sea Grant Program Act in 1966. The National Sea Grant College Program and Act was signed into law on October 15, 1966.[3] The Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship, named in his honor, provides a unique educational and professional experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources, matching highly qualified graduate students with "hosts" in the legislative and executive branch of government located in the Washington, D.C. area, for a one-year paid fellowship.[5]

He served on the Stratton Commission that led to the creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970, and from 1989 to 1993 was its administrator.[6]

Knauss served as President of the American Geophysical Union from 1998 to 2000, and was awarded the Waldo E. Smith medal for "extraordinary service to geophysics" in 2006.[7]

He resided in Saunderstown, Rhode Island and was professor emeritus at the University of Rhode Island.[8] In 2015, he died after a period of declining health.[9]


  1. ^ Knauss Tribute: GSO and John Knauss Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine, Oceanography 14:2, 2001.
  2. ^ "A Tribute to John A. Knauss (1925–2015) - Oceanography".
  3. ^ a b "John Knauss: 50 Years of Service to Oceanography - Oceanography".
  4. ^ Oral History of John Atkinson Knauss, Interview conducted by Laura Harkewicz, 1 November 2005]. 2006. University of California.
  5. ^ Grant, Sea. "Sea Grant > Funding & Fellowships > Knauss Fellowship".
  6. ^ John Knauss, who helped create NOAA and later led it, dies at 90 Washington Post, Dec 7 2015.
  7. ^ "Waldo E. Smith Medal (INACTIVE)". 30 August 2011.
  8. ^ "The development of oceanography at GSO".
  9. ^ "Dr. John A. Knauss, instrumental in founding NOAA's Sea Grant program, has passed away".
Government offices
Preceded by
William Eugene Evans
Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1989 – 1993
Succeeded by
D. James Baker