Geology & Geophysics Milestones

Honoring Earth and Space Scientists

AGU members and others in the news.


On 22 January, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) announced that Paul Farmer will receive the Academy’s Public Welfare Medal for his work improving the delivery of high-quality health care in resource-poor areas of the United States and abroad. Farmer is a cofounder and chief strategist of the international social justice and health organization Partners In Health, a professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass. The NAS established the Public Welfare Medal, its most prestigious award, in 1914 and awards it annually “to honor extraordinary use of science for the public good.” Farmer will receive the Public Welfare medal on 29 April at NAS’s 155th annual meeting in Washington, D. C.

Syukuro Manabe and Susan Solomon will be honored with the 2018 Crafoord Prize in Geosciences this spring, according to an 18 January press release of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The Crafoord Prize is a geosciences complement to the Nobel prizes, which are also awarded by the academy. This year, the Crafoord Prize recognizes “fundamental contributions to understanding the role of atmospheric trace gases in Earth’s climate system.” Manabe, a senior meteorologist in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., is being recognized for his pioneering work in global climate modeling and understanding the interconnectedness of Earth’s atmospheric and ocean systems. Solomon, a professor of environmental studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, was chosen for her groundbreaking work solving the mystery of the Antarctic ozone hole, for integrating ozone processes into models of Earth’s climate system, and for setting the groundwork for modern modeling of the stratosphere. Manabe and Solomon will receive the prize, which includes 6 million Swedish kronor (about $750,000) to be shared equally by the laureates and a prize lecture, during a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, on 24 May. The Crafoord Prize is awarded jointly by the academy and the Crafoord Foundation in Lund, Sweden.

The United Arab Emirates Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science awarded their third annual program grant to three researchers, each working on improving access to water around the world: Ali Abshaev of the Hail Suppression Research Center in Nalchik, Russia, received the award for a project examining the creation of updrafts for the formation of artificial clouds and rainfall; Eric Frew, associate professor of aerospace engineering sciences at the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder and the director of CU Boulder’s Research and Engineering Center for Unmanned Vehicles, plans to use the grant for a project that will use autonomous unmanned aircraft systems for cloud seeding and observations; and Lulin Xue of Hua Xin Chuang Zhi Science and Technology in China received the grant for a project entitled “Using Advanced Experimental – Numerical Approaches to Untangle Rain Enhancement (UAE-NATURE).” Abshaev, Frew, and Xue will share the $5 million grant, which was awarded at a ceremony on 17 January during the 2018 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Four Earth and space scientists were among those recognized by the National Academy of Sciences on 17 January as recipients of medals honoring extraordinary scientific achievements. Mark Hay, professor and chair of environmental science and technology at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, will receive the Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal and its $50,000 prize for his research in algal ecology and work understanding how temperate coral reefs chemically interact with their environment. Kevin McKeegan, professor of Earth, planetary, and space sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, will be presented the J. Lawrence Smith Medal and its $50,000 prize for his study of micrometeorites, measurements of the oxygen isotope composition of the Sun, and work improving our understanding of the formation and early evolution of the solar system. Dean Roemmich, professor of oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, will be honored with the Alexander Agassiz Medal and its $20,000 prize for his pioneering work in studying the large-scale circulation of the ocean, his development of a vast international network of ocean sensors, and his leadership in understanding the ocean’s roles in climate change. Ewine van Dishoeck, professor of molecular astrophysics at Leiden Observatory and Leiden University in the Netherlands and external scientific member of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, will receive the James Craig Watson Medal, a $25,000 prize, and $50,000 in research support for her leading role in molecular astronomy and astrochemistry, research investigating the chemical ingredients needed for star and planet formation and the chemical basis for life, and her outstanding mentorship of younger scientists. These four scientists and 15 other recipients will receive their medals in a ceremony on 29 April during the National Academy of Sciences’ 155th annual meeting.

Sir Stephen Sparks, professor of geology at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom, was knighted as a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to volcanology and geology. During his career, Sparks has focused on volcanology and igneous petrology, mapping and monitoring volcanoes, management strategies for nuclear waste, and natural hazard risk assessment. Among his many honors, Sparks was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2010, was president of International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior, was president of the Geological Society of London, received the 2015 Vetlesen Prize, was president of the Volcanology, Geochemistry, and Petrology (VGP) section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), vice-chaired the AGU Council, and was a member of AGU’s renewed Board of Directors. Sparks was awarded his knighthood as part of Her Majesty the Queen’s 2018 New Year’s Honours published on 29 December 2017.

Citation: AGU (2018), Honoring Earth and space scientists, Eos, 99, Published on 05 February 2018.
© 2018. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0