Geological Society of America Award Winners for 2019

Boulder, CO, USA: The Geological Society of America (GSA) recognizes outstanding scientific achievement and distinguished service to the profession each year at its Annual Meeting & Exposition, to be held this year 22–25 September, in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

Highest honors will be presented to Penrose Medalist Tanya M. Atwater, University of California Santa Barbara; Arthur L. Day Medalist John W. Valley, University of Wisconsin–Madison; and Donath Medalist (Young Scientist Award) Jessica R. Creveling, Oregon State University.

Incoming GSA President Donald I. Siegel, Syracuse University, cordially invites members of the media to attend the awards ceremony and other Annual Meeting events and meet these and other geoscience luminaries at the award presentations on Sunday, 22 September, noon to 1:30 p.m., at the Phoenix Convention Center. Dr. Siegel will be speaking on "The Future of Geoscience in the Context of Climate Disruption."

The President’s Medal of The Geological Society of America will be presented by immediate Past President Robbie Gries (Priority Oil & Gas LLC) to Ira Flatow, State University of New York at Buffalo. Flatow is a radio and television journalist and author, well known for the popular show “Science Friday.” He has hosted award-winning “Newton’s Apple,” and “Big Ideas.” His most recent book is Present at the Future: From Evolution to Nanotechnology, Candid and Controversial Conversations on Science and Nature. Dr. Flatow was on the staff of NPR from 1971 to 1986 and is the recipient of many prestigious awards including the Carl Sagan Award for Public Appreciation of Science and the Public Service Award from the National Science Board.


Penrose Medalist Tanya M. Atwater is Professor Emeritus at the University of California Santa Barbara. Nominator Peter Molnar, University of Colorado, called Atwater, “The Mother of Plate Tectonics.” She brought understanding to processes at mid-ocean ridges, and more importantly, showed how the quantitative elegance and simplicity of plate tectonics could be brought to continents to understand their history with numbers, not with just qualitative analogies. Later, she turned her attention to making animations that illustrate a number of geologic phenomena, with the goal to educate the public in the wonders of geological science.

John W. Valley is named the Arthur L. Day Medalist in recognition of work, which is prolific, wide-reaching, and of exceptional impact. He is the Charles Van Hise Distinguished Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Nominator Brad Singer describes Valley as “not only a highly distinguished geochemist, but one who is actively developing new methods using the chemistry and physics of isotopes to explore earth history.” His pioneering research lies in three principal directions: the origin of lower crustal granulites, development of novel techniques for microanalysis of stable isotopes in minerals, and using isotopes in zircon to explore Earth’s earliest surface conditions.

Jessica R. Creveling earned the Young Scientist Award (Donath Medal) and a cash prize of US$10,000 for outstanding achievement as an early career professional. Creveling is an Assistant Professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. She was nominated by Jerry Mitrovica, Harvard University, for transformative contributions to understanding critical events in Earth’s history through an interdisciplinary combination of comprehensive field geology, elegant, laboratory based biogeochemistry, and state-of-the art numerical modeling of geodynamic processes.

Doris M. Curtis Outstanding Woman in Science Award
This honor is awarded to a woman within the first three years following her degree, who has impacted the field of the geosciences in a major way based on her Ph.D. research. Kimberly V. Lau, the University of Wyoming, is the 2019 honoree, nominated by Jonathan L. Payne, Stanford University, for her research using non-traditional isotope systems to study environmental change during critical transitions in the history of life. Lau uses measurements and models of uranium and calcium isotope variation in carbonate rocks to provide new quantitative constraints on the role of oxygen in triggering early animal evolution as well as in causing the end-Permian and mass extinction and delayed subsequent recovery of the Earth system.

GSA Public Service Award
Craig M. Schiffries, Director of the Deep Carbon Observatory at the Carnegie Institution for Science is recognized for exceptional service to the profession. Dr. Schiffries leads an international team of 1,000 researchers in 50 countries in transformational studies of the chemical, physical, and biological roles of carbon in Earth. He has nurtured a remarkable cohort of early career scientists—nurturing the future of geoscience leadership. Schiffries was nominated by Robert M Hazen, Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution.

Randolph W. “Bill” and Cecile T. Bromery Award for the Minorities
Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Associate Professor, University of California Merced, was recognized with the Bromery Award for her internationally recognized outstanding contributions to the geosciences through impressive scholarly productivity, scientific advances on erosion and fire effects on soil carbon cycling, professional service and leadership, mentoring and training of a diverse team of early career professionals, and broadening participation of underserved and marginalized geoscientists. She was nominated by Erika Marin-Spiotta, University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Florence Bascom Award for Geologic Mapping 
E. Wesley Hildreth, Senior Scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, and Judy Fierstein, U.S. Geological Survey, were nominated by Colin Wilson, Victoria University of Wellington, for their career-long, meticulous geologic mapping of volcanoes. Together, their work has set a benchmark for contributions to global understanding of volcanoes and their magmatic systems. Through case studies, the partners transformed mapping approaches and their application to significant issues in the geology of volcanic regions.

Distinguished Service Awards
Two recipients received recognition for their extensive and outstanding service to GSA in multiple capacities.
Nancy Riggs, Northern Arizona University (nominated by Jeanette Hammann, Geological Society of America).
Christian Koeberl, University of Vienna (nominated by Janice Bishop, SETI Institute).

Honorary Fellows
Reynaldo Charrier Gonzalez, Professor Titular, Universidad de Chile, nominated by Suzanne Mahlburg Kay, Cornell University, in recognition of his distinguished career and leadership in the study of the Chilean and South American Andes.
Doerthe Tetzlaff, Head of the Department of Ecohydrology, Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology, nominated by David F. Boutt, University of Massachusetts Amherst, for her work on streamflow generation, isotopic tracing, and the role of plants in water transport through catchments.

Photos of the GSA award recipients are online ( Citations and responses from the 2019 GSA medal and award winners will be posted on this site after the GSA 2019 Annual Meeting & Exposition.

GSA’s Division awardees ( and newly elected Fellows ( are also online.

Read more about GSA's medals and awards:

The Geological Society of America ( is a scientific society with members from academia, government, and industry in more than 100 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA enhances the professional growth of its members and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. 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.


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For Immediate Release
2 July 2019
GSA Release No. 19-25

Christa Stratton

Penrose Medalist Atwater

Penrose Medalist Tanya M. Atwater

Day medalist Valley

Arthur L. Day Medalist John W. Valley

Donath Medalist Creveling

Donath Medalist Jessica R. Creveling

President's Medalist Flatow

President's Medalist Ira Flatow. Photo courtesy "Science Friday."