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Find Your Science at GSA
27 October 2008
GSA Release No. 08-60
Christa Stratton
Director of Education, Communication, & Outreach

Geological Society of America Honors Science, Stewardship, and Service for 2008

Penrose Medal — Arthur L. Day Medal — Young Scientist Award/Donath Medal — GSA President’s Medal — GSA Distinguished Service Awards — GSA Public Service Award — Bromery Award for Minorities — Subaru Outstanding Woman in Science Award

Boulder, CO, USA – Awards recognizing achievements that represent the best of the earth sciences were presented at the GSA Joint Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, at the Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony on Saturday, 4 October 2008.

George A. Thompson, professor emeritus in the Department of Geophysics at Stanford University, received the prestigious Penrose Medal. Established in 1927 by R.A.F. Penrose, Jr., the medal recognizes outstanding original work that marks a major advance in the science of geology. In nominating Thompson for the award, Mary Lou Zoback, Vice President, Earthquake Risk Applications, Risk Management Solutions, and W. G. (Gary) Ernst, Benjamin M. Page professor emeritus in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University, wrote, “Thompson has illuminated a range of crustal phenomena, profoundly enhancing our understanding of crustal evolution through his simple, elegant geophysical models, which are grounded in structural and petrologic constraints and have stimulated diverse fields of geophysical research.” Thompson was an early leader in geodynamics and tectonic evolution of the western United States, but his contributions have increased scientific understanding of analogous regions across the globe.
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Kenneth A. Farley, W.M. Keck Foundation professor and chair of the Geological and Planetary Sciences Division at the California Institute of Technology, was awarded the Arthur L. Day Medal for outstanding distinction in contributing to geologic knowledge through the application of physics and chemistry to the solution of geologic problems. Farley’s diverse disciplinary contributions are marked by “rigorous theoretical and empirical understanding of the behavior of noble gases in natural materials, and recognizing opportunities for innovative application of noble gas geochemistry to problems of great importance in earth and planetary science,” said University of Arizona’s Peter Reiners.
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Paul A. Kapp, assistant professor at the University of Arizona, received the Young Scientist Award, consisting of the gold Donath Medal (endowed by Dr. and Mrs. Fred A. Donath) and a cash prize of $20,000. The award was established in 1988 to recognize young scientists (aged 35 or younger) for outstanding original research marking a major advance in the earth sciences. In nominating Kapp for the award, George E. Gehrels, University of Arizona, said, “Kapp’s research has led to some of the most original and highly provocative concepts for compositional, kinematic, and dynamic evolution of continental lithosphere. His scholarly activity has led to several breakthroughs in our understanding of the Tibetan plateau and orogenic processes worldwide.”
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Roy J. Shlemon, Roy J. Shlemon & Associates, Inc., was named the 2008 recipient of the President's Medal of the Geological Society of America. GSA President Jack Sharp bestowed the honor for Shlemon’s support of GSA’s Mentor Program in Applied Geology, which bears his name. The Shlemon Mentor Program enhances the geoscience profession by acquainting students with careers in applied geoscience, and providing real-world information and insight to complement their academic learning.
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Three individuals were honored with GSA Distinguished Service Awards for 2008:

Richard B. Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, was awarded the GSA Public Service Award, in honor of Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker, for contributions that have enhanced the public's understanding of earth sciences and served decision-makers in the application of scientific information in public affairs. Alley has worked extensively through active public outreach to communicate scientific advancements in the understanding of past and contemporary climate change. Alley’s expert opinion routinely appears in national and international media, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine, National Public Radio, Nova (PBS) and BBC.
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Lisa D. White, associate dean of graduate studies and professor of geology at San Francisco State University, received the first annual Bromery Award for Minorities. This award, established by Randolph W. "Bill" and Cecile T. Bromery, is designated for those who are instrumental in opening the geoscience field to minorities. White coordinates the SF-ROCKS program (Reaching Out to Communities and Kids with Science in San Francisco), which aims to connect urban youth with earth, environmental, and atmospheric sciences through hands-on investigations with San Francisco State University geoscience faculty and curriculum development for 9th grade science classrooms. It is the goal of SF-ROCKS that through these efforts, a greater diversity of students will enter college in the earth and environmental sciences.
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The Subaru Outstanding Woman in Science Award was presented to Lorraine E. Lisiecki, University of California, Santa Barbara. GSA presents this award in memory of Doris M. Curtis, GSA’s 103rd and first woman, president, as a means to encourage women in the geosciences. Candidates are eligible within the first three years after earning a PhD. Lisiecki’s young career has focused on computational approaches to the comparison and interpretation of paleoclimate records. In her ground-breaking doctoral thesis, according to Maureen Raymo, research professor at Boston University, who nominated Lisiecki for the award, Lisiecki developed the software tools that allowed her (and the scientific community) to understand the source, meaning, and limits of paleoclimate data, and then using those tools, make significant contributions to the understanding of Pleistocene climate evolution.
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For more information about all 2008 GSA medal and award winners, as well as information about the awards, visit

The Geological Society of America, founded in 1888, is a scientific society with more than 21,000 members from academia, government, and industry in more than 90 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA enhances the professional growth of its members and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, GSA encourages cooperative research among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geoscience issues, and supports all levels of earth science education.