2022 AGI Medal in Memory of Ian Campbell

Presented to Jean Marie Bahr

Jean Marie Bahr

Jean Marie Bahr
Department of Geoscience, University of Wisconsin


Citation by Priscilla Croswell Grew

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) recognizes Dr. Jean Bahr, Professor Emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as the 2022 recipient of AGI’s highest award, the Medal in Memory of Ian Campbell for Superlative Service to the Geosciences. Dr. Bahr is honored for her unselfish service to the geosciences through proactive leadership of professional societies, inspirational mentorship of students and colleagues, valued advice on science for sound public policy, and influential research contributions at the intersection of hydrology and living systems. Dr. Bahr has served as President of both AGI and GSA. She has chaired the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board and the Committee on Restoration of the Everglades. She has been an outstanding career mentor to scores of women. She is distinguished in the tradition of Ian Campbell as an educator and public servant of uncommon integrity who has worked tirelessly on behalf of geosciences, her fellow citizens, and the Nation.

After earning her B.A. in Geology at Yale University in 1976, Dr. Bahr spent 4 years helping communities develop water resources, including 2 years in Mali, West Africa. Her continuing service throughout her career has been recognized by the GSA Hydrogeology Division’s Distinguished Service Award in 2006 and AGU's Ambassador Award in 2017 in recognition of her "outstanding contributions in Earth sciences that benefit society.”

Dr. Bahr is a renowned educator and mentor of students. After earning her MS and PhD from Stanford, in 1987 Dr. Bahr joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During her long career at Wisconsin, she served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Geology and Geophysics and of the Water Resources Management Program. In 2012 the Association for Women Geoscientists presented Dr. Bahr with their top honor, the AWG Outstanding Educator Award, in recognition of her exemplary dedication to the mentoring and encouragement of young scientists, especially women.

In 2012 Dr. Bahr was appointed by President Obama upon the recommendation of the National Academies as a member of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, an independent federal agency charged with overseeing DOE’s programs to manage the disposal of both defense and commercial radioactive waste. Dr. Bahr took the lead within the Board on topics related to disposal in salt and has also been active in deep hydrogeologic regimes relevant to proposed deep borehole disposal in crystalline rock. In recognition of her scientific knowledge and strong leadership, Dr. Bahr was appointed to a second term and chosen as the next Board Chair, a high honor and responsibility as she reports directly to Congress and the Secretary of Energy. Previously, Dr. Bahr served on the National Research Council’s Board on Radioactive Waste Management (1992-1997) and was part of the NRC panel that made recommendations to EPA for the highly influential drinking water standard for Yucca Mountain.

From 2001-2004 Dr. Bahr chaired the first Everglades external peer review, the Committee on Restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem to provide scientific advice to the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, setup by the Department of the Interior. With Dr. Bahr as its chair, this landmark interdisciplinary effort evaluated the scientific activities of the existing restoration plan, provided guidance for sound science-based goals and ecological targets for the restoration and made recommendations for a research program to support restoration efforts. Dr. Bahr led committee members in addressing complex and contentious issues at the intersection of society and water resources by collegially working with a wide range of stake holders including restoration project leaders, scientists from many agencies, and representatives from environmental and agricultural organizations. They spent considerable time in Florida on site visits and in regular meetings with representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers, the South Florida Water Management District, and other involved agencies including NOAA, the USGFS, EPA, and the National Park Service. Dr. Bahr’s committee produced six outstanding NRC reports between 2000-2005 addressing issues related to water flow, regional aquifer storage and recovery, and priorities for a proposed plan for adaptive monitoring and assessment

Dr. Bahr served as President of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in 2009-2010 and President of the American Geological Institute in 2016-2017. In addition, she served first as Associate Editor of AGU’s Water Resources Research and currently is one of 8 Editorial Board members, having gained the reputation for a most knowledgeable, dedicated and fair editor who promotes and elevates the impact of the journal while building community. Under Dr. Bahr’s leadership as GSA President, the society finalized position statements on Climate Change, Public Investment in Earth Science Research, Role of Government in Mineral and Energy Resources Research, Expanding and Improving Geoscience in Higher Education, and Importance of Teaching Earth Science and Diversity in the Geoscience Community. In 2006 Dr. Bahr was recognized by GSA’s Hydrogeology Division with the Distinguished Service Award for “her propensity for unconditional commitment and zealous efforts on behalf of others, including students, professional geoscientists, and citizens.” As 2001 Chair of GSA’s Hydrogeology Division she transformed the Division’s Student Reception into a not-to-be-missed extravaganza of professional networking accompanied by a wealth of door prizes well beyond what any previous Chair had even imagined. In 2003 she was selected as Hydrogeology’s Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer. In a 14-month timespan she delivered 64 lectures to universities, large and small. Typically, she followed this service by conceiving and executing a fund-raising effort to carry the Distinguished Lectureship into the future.

In summary, Dr. Bahr is one of those rare individuals in science who not only has inspired students and colleagues with top-tier science and mentoring, but who also has worked tirelessly and unconditionally on behalf of geosciences, her fellow citizens, and the Nation.

Marcia McNutt, Mary Lou Zoback and others joined Priscilla Grew in enthusiastic support of the nomination of Dr. Bahr and contributed to this citation.


Response by Jean Marie Bahr

I was fortunate as an undergraduate and aspiring environmental scientist almost 50 years ago to find a welcoming and intellectually stimulating home in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale. My mentors there were scientists who cared deeply not only about their discoveries but also about the geoscience community. Through my first job in consulting, into graduate school at Stanford and with the USGS, and through the start of my academic career at UW Madison, I met many other colleagues and role models who demonstrated strong commitments to service to the geoscience community and to using geoscience in service to humanity and our planet. I felt honored to be invited as an assistant professor to participate in national and international review panels, and later in my career to assume leadership positions for organizations such as GSA and AGI. Each opportunity for service brought with it a chance to learn new and exciting things. But the best part has been the many wonderful and inspiring friends I have gained along the way.