Geology & Geophysics AGU News

Shaar Receives 2016 William Gilbert Award

Ron Shaar will receive the 2016 William Gilbert Award at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 12–16 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes outstanding and unselfish work in magnetism of Earth materials and of the Earth and planets.



Ron Shaar
Ron Shaar

It is my privilege to introduce Ron Shaar as the 2016 recipient of the William Gilbert award, in recognition of his important contributions to the study of geomagnetic paleointensity.

Quantifying the magnetic field strength over the Earth’s surface and through geologic time is one of the grand challenges in our field. Together with his advisors, Ron has developed important and innovative approaches, including novel selection of research materials, such as archeo-metallurgical slags. The results have been remarkable, showing very large and rapid changes in geomagnetic field strength on several occasions. These “Levantine spikes” appear to be robust features, and other research groups, inspired by Ron’s results, have now found equivalent features in other localities. These observations have major implications for geodynamo processes, and the repercussions are just beginning to be felt.

Ron has also done excellent fundamental research on the micromagnetic structures in these materials and on the mechanisms of remanence acquisition and stability. His study of the archeological slag using magnetic force microscopy was comprehensive and adept, integrating the observed magnetic microstructures with previous micromagnetic modeling results and with bulk-sample properties including hysteresis and anisotropy, to obtain a deep understanding of how these materials acquire and retain remanence, and how they “remember” the strength of the field in which they cooled.

Ron has also demonstrated leadership and service to the GPE research community through the development and distribution of well-designed open-source cross-platform software for analyzing paleointensity data. The Thellier_GUI software provides a rational, objective, and consistent basis for estimating the paleofield strength and for quantifying the uncertainty in that estimate, helping us all to get the most out of our experimental data.

I believe that Ron Shaar is an outstanding young scientist, an emerging leader in our field, and a superb choice for the 2016 William Gilbert Award.

—Mike Jackson, IRM, Minneapolis, Minn.


I am deeply honored to receive this award and I thank the nominators, the committee, and Mike Jackson for his kind citation. When I first visited the IRM as a graduate student the first thing I saw was Mike’s smile expressing something like “hey, you came to the right place. It’s going to be fun.” This is exactly what I felt then and what I feel now.

My path toward a career in paleomagnetism was not a straight line. Ten years ago I was an electrical engineer looking for some outdoor geological adventures more as a hobby than a career. After my doctoral advisors Hagai Ron, Amotz Agnon and Ronit Kessel from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem introduced me to paleomagetism I realized that this unique field of research is the best the scientific world can give.

I am proud and grateful for being part of our incredible Geomagetism and Paleomagnetism community. The more I get to know the people who shape and form it I realize how fortunate I am to be surrounded by such inspiring supportive and generous scientists. I can name here only few senior colleagues that I had the great privilege to learn from: Jeff Gee, Cathy Constable, Mike Jackson, Josh Feinberg, and Joe Kirschvink. Thanks for each one of you.

I will forever be grateful to my scientific parents Late Hagai Ron and Lisa Tauxe, who paved a path for me to follow with endless support and guidance. Finally, I owe a very special debt to Lisa Tauxe, my ultimate role model for uncompromising excellence and leadership and the kindest human beings I have ever met.

It is a wonderful thing to start my new position at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with this early career award. Thank you.

—Ron Shaar, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel

Citation: AGU (2016), Shaar receives 2016 William Gilbert Award, Eos, 97, doi:10.1029/2016EO060877. Published on 14 October 2016.
© 2016. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0