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Find Your Science at GSA
3 August 2011
GSA Release No. 11-47
Christa Stratton
Director of Education, Communication, & Outreach

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GSA Announces 2011 Awardees

Boulder, CO, USA – The Geological Society of America will recognize outstanding scientific achievements and distinguished service to the profession at its 2011 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Awards will be presented at the Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Sunday, 9 October.

In addition, the prestigious Penrose, Arthur L. Day, and Donath (Young Scientist Award) Gold Medalists are scheduled to give special half-hour lectures reflecting on their extraordinary scientific careers on Monday, 10 October, from 1:30–3:30. p.m. Members of the media are invited to attend.


Paul F. Hoffman, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University, has been named the 2011 Penrose Medalist in recognition of his eminent research in Precambrian geology. His seminal work includes the application of plate tectonics to Proterozoic geology and the development of the “Snowball Earth” hypothesis. Hoffman’s Gold Medal lecture is titled, “How adolescent Earth made continents but messed up the carbon cycle.”

Susan L. Brantley, Professor of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, will receive the Arthur L. Day Medal for her work in the successful application of chemical kinetics to the interpretation and synthesis of observations of geochemical processes in natural systems. She has led efforts to understand why rates of geochemical reactions differ between field and laboratory settings, and she leads research to understand biological control on rates of geochemical processes. Brantley’s Gold Medal lecture is titled, “Back to the future as a geochemist.”

Jasper A. Vrugt, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California at Irvine, will receive the Young Scientist Award (Donath Medal) and a cash prize of $10,000 for extraordinary contributions in the field of hydrogeology. He is a recognized leader in hydrogeological modeling and uncertainty analysis. His Gold Medal lecture is titled, “Lost between two shores.”


The Subaru Outstanding Woman in Science Award will be presented to Naomi E. Levin, Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University, for her 2008 Ph.D. research, which has had a major impact in the fields of paleoclimate, paleoecology, and human origins. Levin’s dissertation, titled “Isotopic Records of Plio-Pleistocene Climate and Environments in Eastern Africa,” looks at how landscapes and terrestrial organisms responded to past climate change and provides perspective on the effects of future climate perturbations.

The Bromery Award for Minorities will be presented to A. Wesley Ward, Emeritus Scientist, Western Regional Geologist, United States Geological Survey. Ward has a long history of leadership and service to the geosciences, including past president of NABGG (National Association of Black Geologists and Geophysicists), the GSA committee on Women and Minorities, and work with federal Minority Participation Programs which served to increase hiring of women and minorities. Ward led the 1997 U.S. Geological Survey Mars Pathfinder mission that conducted geology and geomorphic studies of the planet’s surface.

Scott F. Burns, Professor of Geology, Portland State University, has received the GSA Public Service Award for his contributions to public understanding of the geosciences. Burns’ research in soils, geomorphology, and environmental and engineering geology is of great intrinsic scientific value, but he also demonstrates a rare talent for contextualizing his understanding of the landscape in terms of its meaning for natural hazards, land use, and human and ecosystem health, and translating it effectively for decision makers and the public.

GSA Distinguished Service Awards will go to two individuals: Richard C. Berg, Acting Chief Scientist and Principal Geologist, Illinois State Geological Survey, and Brendan Murphy, Professor of Earth Sciences, St. Francis Xavier University. Both are honored for their leadership over many years of service and their contributions to advancing the vision and mission of the Society.

Read more about GSA medals and awards at

Photos of GSA award recipients are found at Citations and responses from the 2011 GSA medal and award winners will be posted on this site after the GSA Annual Meeting.