Dr. John "Fred" Grassle received the highly prestigious Japan Prize for his "contribution to marine environmental conservation through research on ecology and biodiversity of deep-sea organisms". His most notable research findings are the elucidation of "chemosynthetic ecosystems" and the "patch mosaic hypothesis", which suggested that even superficially similar deep-sea environments actually contain many different microhabitats, each of which hosts a unique set of species.
Fred was one of the founders of the Census of Marine Life (CoML), which turned into the biggest scientific collaboration ever to elucidate the diversity of life in the oceans.
He devoted himself to making the research findings publicly available through the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). Today, OBIS is managed by the IODE programme of IOC-UNESCO, and is used around the globe for planning ocean conservation policies.
Link: Japan Prize announcement