Patrick Sullivan, PhD

2013 Distinguished Alumni Award

BS in engineering physics, 1978, University of Colorado at Boulder
MS in ocean engineering, 1981, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
PhD in ocean engineering, 1985, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Dr. Patrick K. Sullivan founded Oceanit in 1985. The self-funded research and development technology incubator employs more than 160 scientists, engineers and professionals, providing innovative solutions in aerospace, engineering, information technology and life sciences. Oceanit produces cutting-edge innovations in bio-photonics, neurotoxin detection and optics, and develops technology for missile defense, managing space debris and environmental applications. Sullivan brings more than 35 years of entrepreneurial, business and scientific experience to Oceanit’s “idea factory” business model, which has developed extensive technical infrastructure, such as Hawai‘i’s first and only optical design and fabrication center, and nanotechnology focused on nano-composites and sensors.

Sullivan’s 28 years of CEO experience and broad background in scientific innovations, team building and business has enabled Oceanit to spin out Hoana Medical, Inc., a medical device company that raised nearly $45 million in private equity, as well as $12 million in federal funding. In 2006 Hoana Medical brought to market its first FDA-approved product, which is focused on delivering intelligent medical vigilance to acute care hospitals and has been used by more than 100,000 patients in hospitals throughout the U.S.

Sullivan has served on numerous boards and commissions, including those of the Ocean Research Advisory Panel (appointed by the Secretary of the Navy), Parker Ranch and the High Technology Development Corporation. He currently serves on the boards of Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific and Hoana Medical and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i Military Affairs Council. Sullivan has developed nationally-focused research programs, such as the National Defense Center of Excellence for Research in Ocean Sciences, and the National Electric Vehicle Demonstration program, both collaborations with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He also serves as the honorary consul to the Republic of Indonesia in Hawai‘i. Since 2007, Sullivan has served on the UH Mānoa College of Engineering dean’s council and was a former adjunct faculty member in the Department of Ocean & Resources Engineering.


Tribute video produced by Tom Galli & Stacia Garlach. Mahalo to Pono Shim, Bruce Liebert and Bob Harrison. Special thanks to Betty Brand of Oceanit; Ian Wasnich and Michelle Kostron of Oceanit for recording the interviews with Dr. Liebert and Mr. Harrison; Dr. Sullivan for sharing photos; and Benny Chong for permission to use music from Ukulele Jazz (2005).