Awards, Honors & AppointmentsAwards, Honors & Appointments
November 13, 2000

CONTACT: Mario Aguilera or Cindy Clark, (858) 534-3624 

Scripps Diving Officer Inducted into Scuba Diving Hall of Fame

James R. Stewart, diving officer emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, was one of the initial inductees into the NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) Hall of Honor. At a special awards ceremony held during NAUI's 40th Anniversary Reunion Nov. 10-12 in Houston, Texas, Stewart joined 21 other scuba pioneers who were honored for their countless hours of volunteer labor and valuable contributions to the field of scuba diving.

Stewart has been associated with Scripps Institution of Oceanography since 1952. As diving officer from 1960 until his retirement in 1991, he managed the nation's oldest and largest nongovernmental research diving program which became the model for safe and effective conduct of international research diving programs. He remains active in the Scripps diving program.

A native of San Diego, Stewart received a bachelor of arts degree from Pomona College in 1953 and his general teaching credentials from San Diego State College in 1958. He studied marine botany at the graduate level at the University of Southern California and University of Hawaii.

He began diving in 1941 and is one of a dozen individuals at Scripps who, in the early 1950s, began developing training procedures and data collecting techniques that would allow scientists to use diving as a means of conducting underwater research. During the early 1960s, he developed the original University Guide for Diving Safety, which created a means for establishing reciprocal research diving programs throughout the University of California system and various state and federal agencies.

Stewart has directed and participated in numerous kelp bed field projects in which he trained staff and students in the art of kelp bed diving. His work on such projects led to many shipboard diving and collecting trips for the University of California. The scientific community recognizes Stewart as an expert on the interactions of divers and the marine environment, including marine mammals.

Since 1967, he has been responsible for the training and evaluation of all scientists, regardless of nationality, conducting research diving in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans under the auspices of the National Science Foundation's Division of Polar Programs, a position he maintains even after his retirement from Scripps. In addition to the Arctic and Antarctic, he has dived throughout much of the world, including the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Gulf of Mexico, and Mediterranean Sea.

Stewart also acts as a consultant to NASA. He has participated in the development of techniques used in the underwater training of astronauts for extravehicular activity. In the mid-1990s, Stewart formed a national committee to evaluate the engineering concepts necessary for creating a wet training facility for the international space station.

In 1992, Stewart received the National Conservation Award from the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. In 1991, he was elected to the Diving Industry's Hall of Fame by receiving the first Pioneer Award from the Diving Equipment Manufacturers Association. In 1990, he was honored as the San Diego Lifeguard Service's Citizen of the Year. He was the recipient of the Conrad Limbaugh Memorial Award from Los Angeles County in 1989. He is one of only two American recipients of the Golden Trident Award (1987) presented by the southern European research diving community for lifelong contributions to research diving and diving safety; the other American recipient is astronaut Scott Carpenter. In 1986, Stewart received two prestigious diving safety awards. He received the Craig Hoffman Memorial Safety Award from the Undersea Medical Society and the Leonard Greenstone Award from the International Conference on Underwater Education and the National Association of Underwater Instructors.

Stewart is a member of the Coroner's Expert Committee on Diving Related Deaths and a member of the State of California Parks and Recreation Department Board on Underwater Parks and Reserves. He is a member of the executive committee of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences, the Scuba Advisory Committee for National Cooperation in Aquatics, the NAUI Advisory Committee, and he serves as a member of the San Diego/La Jolla Underwater Park Board. In addition, he serves as diving consultant to the U.S. Coast Guard, FBI, U.S. Army Special Forces, National Park Service, and many universities nationwide. He also is a member of the Bottom Scratchers, the world's oldest skin diving club.

Stewart lives in San Diego, Calif.

NAUI is a non-profit, worldwide educational association whose primary purpose is training the general public to dive. NAUI provides practical education and actively promotes the preservation and protection of the world's underwater environments. Members of the organization train and certify leaders and instructors, establish minimum standards for various levels of diver training, and provide various programs, products, and support materials. NAUI's primary purpose is also reflected in the association's motto, "Dive Safety Through Education."