Dr. Joe McInnis

Dr. Joe McInnis

Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Accepting the award: Dr. Joe MacInnis

Dr. Joe MacInnis is the first person to explore the ocean beneath the North Pole. Supported by the Canadian government, he led ten research expeditions under the Arctic Ocean to develop the systems and techniques to make scientific surveys beneath the polar ice cap. His teams built the first undersea polar station and discovered the world’s northernmost known shipwreck.

After graduating from the University of Toronto, Dr. MacInnis studied diving medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Two years later, he was appointed medical director of the American Man-In-Sea program funded by Edwin Link, the United States Navy and National Geographic. His pioneering research on the health and safety of deep-sea divers took him on high-risk projects in the North Atlantic, the North Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Canada’s first deep-sea explorer has logged more than 5,000 hours beneath the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. Among the first to dive to the Titanic, he was co-leader of a $5-million expedition to film the world’s most famous shipwreck in the giant-screen Imax format. This project inspired the deep diving elements of James Cameron’s Academy Award-winning movie. For the past ten years, Dr. MacInnis has been studying leadership in life-threatening environments and how it can be used to help resolve global issues like climate change. He’s spent time with astronauts who built the International Space Station, dived three miles beneath the Atlantic Ocean with marine scientists, and worked with the Canadian Forces on a leadership project in Afghanistan.

Dr. MacInnis has written ten books about undersea science and engineering projects and the leadership needed to make them succeed. Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter called him, “The poet-laureate of the deep ocean.” His latest book, DEEP LEADERSHIP, was recently published by Random House.

His research has earned him his nation’s highest honour, the Order of Canada.