Maureen E. Raymo, winner of AGU’s 2019 Maurice Ewing Medal
Maureen E. Raymo

Maureen “Mo” Raymo’s contributions to the geosciences transformed the understanding of Earth’s climate on tectonic, orbital, and shorter timescales. Mo pushed the envelope in research on the marine record of orbital variability in Earth’s climate over the past few millions of years and authored highly cited and inspiring papers. She did not remain within this broad topic but branched out to research linkages between climate and tectonic regimes, climate variability and oceanic geochemical cycles (including the carbon cycle), and the effects on deep-sea biota and deep-sea circulation patterns. She provided new insight into the correlation between ocean circulation and climate in SE Asia, Africa (over the time of evolution of humans), and the U.S. West—an impossibly impressive list. Her research on the interplay among ocean circulation, ice sheets, and climatic records over the initiation of Northern Hemispheric glaciation and changes in the dominant variability of glacial-interglacial climate change has inspired a large volume of research that is important for our understanding of changes in Earth’s climate.

In addition to her scientific excellence, Mo has been a superb supporter of her many undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral advisees, encouraging them to bring out the best in their research and copublishing outstanding work. She has been a major contributor to the paleoclimate research that has been used in the evaluation of anthropogenic climate change and cited in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. In addition, she has been a popularizer of science, as shown in the book Written in Stone: A Geological History of the Northeastern United States, cowritten with her father. This book is an excellent example of making science accessible to people who are interested but not professionals. This interest in making science accessible to nonprofessionals is also shown in her active involvement in public lectures on climate change, in producing web content (e.g., “How high will the waters rise?”), and in contributing to articles for the general public (“How the New Climate Denial Is Like the Old Climate Denial,” February 2017,  Atlantic).

Mo Raymo has served the paleoclimate community in many ways, including decades of service in the Ocean Drilling Programs, as well as membership in the Advisory Council of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. At a time when not only climate change science but science in general is under assault, it is exciting and gratifying to see that Mo Raymo, who combines excellence in research with advocacy for science, has been rewarded with the Maurice Ewing Medal.

—Ellen Thomas, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.; also at  Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn.


Thank you, Robin; the Navy; my nominator, Ellen Thomas; and fellow AGU members.  It is a wonderful honor to receive the Maurice Ewing Medal especially as, every day, I go to work in the Lamont-Doherty Core Repository, a testament to the foresight of “Doc” Ewing, who insisted that the Lamont research ships collect “a core a day.”  Decades later, a revolution in our understanding of Earth’s natural climate variability would spring from these innocuous cylinders of deep-sea mud.  I arrived at Lamont in 1982, a decade after Ewing’s departure—by that time women had become a significant cohort of the graduate student body.  Today, I would like to thank those gals for providing fellowship, support, and peer mentoring, before “mentoring” was even a word in our vocabulary. Thank you, Delia Oppo, Christina Ravelo, Rosanne D’Arrigo, Terry Plank, Robin Bell, Lisa Tauxe, Julia Cole, Suzanne O’Connell, Emily Klein, Carol Raymond, Kerry Hegarty, Ellen Kappel, Anne Grunow, and others.  Somehow, we all thought a career as a scientist would be possible, even though there was very little physical evidence to that effect.  I believe it was our critical mass that gave us confidence and strength.

Of course, I’d like to also thank my family, my partner, Ray, and especially my now grown children, Victoria and Daniel, for their unwavering love and support over the years. I’d also like to thank two organizations that never made me feel anything less than a scientist fully deserving of a seat at the table—the National Science Foundation and the International Ocean Drilling Programs.  My career would not have been possible without the early support provided by these organizations.  Last, I’d like to thank my colleagues at Lamont, to where I returned in 2011.  It is an absolute pleasure to go to work every day and be among so many smart and inspiring people who are passionate about our planet’s past, present, and future.  I am truly grateful.  Thank you.

—Maureen E. Raymo, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, N.Y.


(2020), Maureen E. Raymo receives 2019 Maurice Ewing Medal, Eos, 101, Published on 17 January 2020.

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