2021 Geobiology and Geomicrobiology Division Distinguished Career Award

Presented to Frank Corsetti

Frank Corsetti

Frank Corsetti
University of Southern California


Citation by David J Bottjer

Frank Corsetti has played a fundamental role in building the growth of geobiology over the past twenty years. As a Professor at the University of Southern California (USC), he teaches the undergraduate majors course in sedimentology and stratigraphy. From that base his teaching and research have branched out into a wide variety of syntheses of sedimentological, geochemical, paleobiological and molecular biological approaches. He first made his mark as a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with innovative studies that aimed to provide finer resolution of the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary than was previously known. Frank then went deeper in time with a post-doc on Snowball Earth. These Precambrian studies drew him into the then nascent fields of geobiology and astrobiology. This research in particular has been focused on modern and ancient stromatolites, and whether they had a biogenic or abiogenic origin. With a focus on critical times of change in environments and the evolution of life, Frank has naturally also been drawn to major events recorded in the Phanerozoic. Much recent research has been on the causes and consequences of the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic. Thus within the context of a modern sedimentary geologist Frank has built his outstanding research career through the lens of deep-time geobiology.

While at USC Frank has established himself as an award-winning teacher of undergraduates and mentor for numerous graduate students. Frank has also been unusually active with service to journals. Thus he was an Editorial Board Member for Geobiology, an Associate Editor for Palaios, and an Associate Editor for the Journal of Sedimentary Research. His service to scientific societies has also been expansive, as President (2009-2010) of the Pacific Section of SEPM, and then Vice Chair (2008-2010) and Chair (2010-2012) of the Geological Society of America Geobiology and Geomicrobiology Division. These are the activities of a very busy academic. Yet somehow Frank found the time from 2010-2016 to be the Co-Director of the International Geobiology Summer Course. Many of the graduates of this course have gone on to faculty positions in geobiology. And he now finds the time to be the Chair of the Department of Earth Sciences at USC.

Thus, this Distinguished Career Award presented to Frank Corsetti is in recognition of his contributions as one of the major architects of the emerging field of geobiology, through a unique combination of sedimentological, geochemical, paleobiological and molecular biological approaches, as well as for his extensive service to the profession and outstanding contributions to the education and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students.


Response by Frank Corsetti

Response forthcoming.