Geology & Geophysics Milestones

Honoring Earth and Space Scientists

AGU members and others in the news.


The Cassini mission team will receive the 2018 John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration from the Space Foundation. The foundation presents the Swigert Award annually for a significant advancement of space exploration during the previous year. The Cassini mission, which ended in September 2017, was recognized for its more than 20 years of work revolutionizing our understanding of Saturn, its rings and moons, and how planetary systems form. The team of the Cassini mission, which was a joint mission of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency, will receive this award on 16 April during the opening ceremony of the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Northwestern University announced, on 13 April, the winners of the 2018 Nemmers Prizes. Among them, receiving the first Nemmers Prize to be awarded in Earth sciences, is Francis Albarède, who is recognized for “his fundamental applications of geochemistry to earth sciences.” Albarède is an emeritus professor of Geochemistry at École Normale Supérieure de Lyon in France; an adjunct faculty at Rice University in Houston, Texas; and a world leader in using geochemistry to understand the history of Earth and the solar system. He has contributed to knowledge of high-temperature geodynamic processes, planetary sciences, and marine geochemistry, according to a prize announcement. The honor includes a cash award of $200,000.

Jim Green, who is currently the director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, will step into his new role as NASA chief scientist on 1 May. Green was appointed to this new position on 10 April by acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot. Green has served as director of the Planetary Science Division, part of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, since 2006, overseeing key missions to many solar system destinations and setting the groundwork for future NASA missions to Mars and Europa. After Green begins as chief scientist, Lori Glaze will serve as acting director of the Planetary Science Division. Glaze is currently the chief of the Planetary Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Laboratory at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

On 5 April, France Córodva, director of the National Science Foundation, was inducted into the U.S. News and World Report’s STEM Leadership Hall of Fame. Córdova is an astrophysicist who focused her research on high-energy cosmic phenomena and instrumentation. Córdova is president emerita of Purdue University; is chancellor emerita of the University of California, Riverside; was NASA’s chief scientist from 1993 to 1996, the youngest person and first woman to hold that position; is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Association for Women in Science; is a Kilby Laureate and a recipient of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal; was chair of the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents from 2012 to 2014; and is a past member of the National Science Board. Córdova and three other honorees were inducted into the hall of fame at an awards luncheon at the U.S. News STEM Solutions Presents Workforce of Tomorrow conference in Washington, D. C.

Ellen Stofan was named the head of the National Air and Space Museum on 5 April. Stofan will come to the position from her current role as a consulting senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. A leader in the planetary science community for decades, Stofan served as NASA chief scientist from 2013 to 2016, has addressed the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Future of Space Technologies at Davos, has conducted research in planetary sciences in the United States and internationally, and coauthored two National Geographic books about the future of planetary science. Stofan will begin her tenure at the museum, located in Washington, D. C., on 30 April.

Five early-career astronomers were named 2018 Sagan Fellows as part of the NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP) on 3 April. The Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowship, named in honor of the late Carl Sagan, is one of three prestigious fellowships within NHFP and is awarded to outstanding early-career researchers who focus on extrasolar planets and the origin of life. Ian Czekala will research the birth of stars and their young planetary systems at the University of California, Berkeley. Johan Mazoyer will investigate the possibility of detecting exo-Earths with large space-based coronagraph instruments at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Erik Petigura will research the origin of small planets at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Kamber Schwarz will study the evolution of volatile molecules in protoplanetary disks and exoplanet atmospheres at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Daniel Tamayo will research the dynamical evolution of exoplanet systems and how to characterize such systems at Princeton University in Princeton, N. J. The Sagan Fellows will begin their research at their chosen institutions in the fall of 2018.

Kenneth Graham began his appointment as the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla., on 1 April. Graham has worked with NOAA for many years as a leading meteorologist at National Weather Service (NWS) offices around the United States. In his positions within NOAA and NWS, Graham aided Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts in Forth Worth, Texas; advised response teams after the 2011 Deepwater Horizon oil spill; and worked with Mississippi and Louisiana decision makers to predict and mitigate impacts of recent hurricanes along the Gulf Coast. Graham took over the position from Ed Rappaport, who returned to his position as the center’s deputy director after serving as acting director since May 2017.

Joan Schmelz was elected vice president of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) on 20 February. Schmelz is currently the program director for the Universities Space Research Association and has a long history of leadership in the astronomical community. In addition to her research in solar and stellar astronomy and many other accomplishments, Schmelz is the deputy director of Arecibo Observatory, was a program officer of the National Science Foundation, and was chair of the AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy. In her new position, she plans to continue her advocacy efforts for gender diversity and will be a key player in preparing the Astro 2020 decadal survey. Schmelz will serve in the office for 3 years starting in June.

The Solar Physics Division of the AAS named Sarbani Basu and Nicholeen Viall as recipients of two of their annual prizes. Basu will receive the 2018 George Ellery Hale Prize, which is awarded for outstanding long-term contributions to solar astronomy, for her decades of work understanding quakes, oscillations, and “ringing” in the Sun and in distant stars. Basu is a professor and chair of the Department of Astronomy at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and will continue her stellar ringing work with data from various NASA satellites. Viall, an astrophysicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., was chosen as the 2018 Karen Harvey Prize recipient for her work on understanding the solar corona, the solar wind, and near-Earth space weather. The Karen Harvey Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the field by early-career scientists. Basu and Viall will each receive their award and deliver a prize lecture during the Triennial Earth-Sun Summit in Leesburg, Va., in late May.

Citation: AGU (2018), Honoring Earth and space scientists, Eos, 99, Published on 18 April 2018.
© 2018. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0