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Alford Bio

Matthew Alford was a Senior Oceanographer and Associate Professor at the Applied Physics Laboratory and School of Oceanography at the University of Washington, until July 2014 when he accepted a faculty position at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  He grew up in Alabama and Virginia, and attended Swarthmore College with a double major in English and Astrophysics.  He began on the swimming and soccer teams, but after a year fell in love with beach volleyball and backpacking.  After Swarthmore, he moved out west to get his PhD in Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he continued playing beach volleyball and also learned to surf.  He moved to Seattle in 1998 and has remained there since, teaching and researching while playing guitar and surfing the Northwest's cold but uncrowded waves.  In 2002 he received the Office of Naval Research's prestigious Young Investigator Program (YIP) Award, and in 2009 received the University of Washington College of Fishery and Ocean Sciences' Distinguished Research Award.  He has over 60 refereed publications in top-tier journals including Nature and Journal of Physical Oceanography, and has led several ambitious experiments funded by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation.  As an avid surfer, he has long sought to understand the subsea analogue to the surface waves we see breaking on beaches - the so-called "internal swell" that turns out to be vital to the way the ocean climate system works.  His research group, Wavechasers, travels to faraway places such as the Arctic, Western Samoa, Greece, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Taiwan - building and deploying high-tech robotic systems to detect and measure the waves as they travel across the oceans.  Afterwards, he generally manages to tack on trips to explore, hike and surf the surface waves in these areas, too.