2021 AGI Medal in Memory of Ian Campbell

Presented to Marcia McNutt

Marcia McNutt

Marcia McNutt
National Academy of Sciences


Citation by The Ian Campbell 2021 Nominating Committee

Dr. McNutt’s contributions to the geosciences have been exceptional over a long and productive professional career, beginning with her post-Ph.D. position as a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1982, she became an assistant professor of geophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was appointed in 1988 as Griswold Professor of Geophysics at MIT. Dr. McNutt participated in 15 major oceanographic expeditions and served as chief scientist on more than half of these expeditions. In addition to her outstanding oceanographic and plate tectonics research and leadership, Dr. McNutt has served as the head of six major professional science and geoscience organizations, including serving as the president of the American Geophysical Union. Dr. McNutt was the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey for four years, and she is the current president of the National Academy of Sciences, the United States’ premier science organization which advises the nation on issues related to science and technology. In these major leadership roles, Dr. McNutt has been a very effective advocate of the geosciences and the important role that geoscientists play in addressing many societally relevant problems.


Response by Marcia McNutt

I am honored and humbled to have been chosen the 2021 Ian Campbell Medalist. I certainly didn’t earn it by myself.

There are numerous colleagues who have helped me develop the friendships, skills, and confidence to function as a successful geoscientist and state survey director. My most special thanks go to Frank Kottlowski, former Director of the New Mexico Bureau of Mines & Mineral Resources, who first gave me the opportunity to become acquainted with an incredible organization called the Association of American State Geologists. The members of that group became my mentors, confidantes, and personal network whose collective wisdom, outlook and style showed me how it could be done. I have also enjoyed a number of long-standing professional and productive relationships with colleagues at the national level in geological societies, advisory committees, and the U. S. Geological Survey. Finally, I gratefully acknowledge the University of Wisconsin Extension Service to whom the WGNHS was administratively attached. That organization has a fundamental commitment to build and nurture what they call ‘capacity’ of individual citizens, local groups, county boards and commissions, and entire communities. By ‘capacity,’ they mean the ability to recognize, and effectively and responsibly deal with local issues and problems. It became obvious to me that successful state surveys should have a similar capacity-building commitment albeit with a relevant geological component. Communicating clearly and respectfully with all survey customers is an essential element in capacity building, and I have emphasized this throughout my career.

All of these individuals and organizations have helped shape who I am and what I have tried to accomplish.