2018 Distinguished Service Award

Presented to Nazrul I. Khandaker, Judith Totman Parrish, and Marilyn J. Suiter

Citation by Joann Stock

Nazrul Khandaker is recognized for lifetime career service to GSA, particularly in GSA initiatives supporting international participants, women, minorities, and students. He chaired the Minorities and Women in Geoscience Committee, and promoted and strengthened the GSA International Section.  As secretary of this section since 2010, he publicized the role of GSA in other countries, and connected overseas geologists to GSA programs and resources.  Nazrul  conducted a membership campaign, wrote online blogs and informative newsletters, and raised awareness among overseas geologists about the relevance of GSA and the availability of travel awards to attend the annual meeting.  He organized joint conferences with China, and hosted international receptions at the GSA Annual Meeting. He promotes access of K9-16 students to the geosciences through topical sessions on K9-16 Geoscience Education, and his mentoring has encouraged many to present their field- and laboratory-based research at the GSA Annual Meeting.

2018 Distinguished Service Award — Response by Nazrul I. Khandaker

Receiving such recognition from the Geological Society of America (GSA) gives me a humbling sense of belonging. First of all I would like to acknowledge Dhaka University (Bangladesh), University of Rochester and Iowa State University for providing me with geoscience training and the GSA for offering opportunities to serve in various capacities since 2005. The outcome of my association with the GSA committee on minorities and women in the geosciences, education committee, on to the future program, and international section (later committee) was to truly build on collegiality, dependability and trust extended to me by the board in charge of the committee. They ably guided me to navigate the course and make strategic decisions on many pressing items including diversity, K12 STEM education, global collaboration, and dissemination of GSA’s mission embodying science, service and stewardship. Through these manifold tasks and committee assignments, I had an advantage in accomplishing various tasks and also learning about shortcomings in order to refine future undertakings and proposed initiatives. I have greatly enjoyed working with international collaborators as they brought a new dimension to my role and triggered interest in remaining on task.  They certainly enriched my knowledge-base and created an amicable atmosphere where open dialog and expression were encouraged, respected and valued. GSA International is an arena where the role of geosciences truly becomes obvious and meaningful. MIT Professor Clark Burchfiel, keynote speaker at the Roof of the World China meeting and also the GSA International Section’s recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Career Award, reminded all of us about the U.S. role in reaching out to overseas geologists in greater numbers, and encouraged such collaboration as part of the GSA’s global mission. His remark “Geology is global and one cannot be separated from the other” reinforces about the new frontiers of the geosciences and how we can proceed to create a new generation of geologists to meet the demands of the global society. I wouldn’t have, in any other way been able to succeed or make an impact without the selfless contributions that many international colleagues have rendered to me. The GSA truly coordinated and played a tremendous role in helping me to utilize its resources effectively to reach out to hundreds of distinguished overseas individuals and continue to receive their support in order to foster exchange of geoscience and scientific ideas.  Now being at York College (CUNY-The City University of New York), known for its pivotal role in serving minorities and underrepresented in STEM fields, I am equally encouraged by receiving this award on behalf of the greater York College community, where underrepresented and minority students are apparently  not well-informed about the geoscience discipline.  It is particularly important for urban students from environments such as New York City, where many undergraduate students seem to miss the connection between the role of geosciences and societal needs. Many do not even consider geosciences as a career option. Traditional geoscience curricula are not adequate to demonstrate the practical aspects of the discipline and its relevance to society, due to limited available resources, lack of funding to conduct field excursions, limited number of summer internships, and limited opportunity to initiate research or be exposed to high-profile national or international meetings. Integration of traditional geosciences curricula with aspects of environmental monitoring, climate change scenarios, and energy system science or green energy, can provide an attractive basis for undecided majors or even new geoscience majors to see an opportunity to focus and stay the course to successfully complete a geoscience program. From our own experience since 2004, we have seen that students who have presented their work in GSA conference sessions were able to obtain the best possible training and educational opportunities to become future geoscience professionals. GSA conferences allow exposure, networking, and professional feedback that simply cannot be replicated in typical undergraduate-level activities. Participation of students in undertaking short-term research investigation in a broad range of geoscientific work can improve the educational situation, and practical marketability of geoscience graduates.  Such training can allow increased student-directed research work, appreciation of the science of geology, and career-related experiences in geoscience. My close association with the GSA is long standing. I became a student member of the GSA in 1985 and a professional member in 1990. Working with geo-stars, I have benefited tremendously, and it certainly was professionally rewarding. I find myself associated with individuals who are pioneers, champions, and revolutionary thinkers of various geological concepts and ideas. My geology education, training, overall mission, vision, and future outlook are constantly suggesting the incorporation of a globalization theme as far as teaching and research are concerned. The outcome is sure to be positive, and I certainly hope to continue professional activity under the auspices of the GSA to foster greater international collaboration and participation.

Citation by Marjorie A. Chan

Dr. Judith Totman Parrish has successfully worn the hats of researcher, academician, and administrator, but a feather in her cap is the impact she has made in her sustained service and leadership in our Society.  As a member since 1983 and Fellow since 1994, Judy has helped GSA’s sound financial future through her leadership on Audit, Investment, Finance, Development, and Capital Campaign Steering committees.  She currently serves on the GSA Foundation’s Board of Trustees and is Geology Editor.

Most importantly, Judy was GSA President, and a caretaker of the Society as the Interim Executive Director during the search for a new director. She is only the second person to serve in both capacities. She is also an active “On to the Future” mentor.  Judy exudes the warmth and collegiality that makes GSA special among professional societies. It is fitting that she receives this high honor in recognition of her service.

2018 Distinguished Service Award — Response by Judith Totman Parrish

Thanks for your kind words, Margie, and thanks also to my nominators. I am deeply honored to receive this award. One of the great pleasures of my career has been my long association with GSA and its staff. We have as fine staff as we could hope for, and I encourage you to get involved if you aren’t already. Put your name in to serve on a committee. From there, you may be nominated to serve on Council, and from there to serve as an officer. At whatever level you become involved, your time will be well spent.

I would like to dedicate this award to my parents, Bob and Dru Totman, both of whom passed away this year after long, full lives. Through long years of service to community organizations, such as the Girl Scouts, and to their church, including public outreach programs to help disadvantaged people, they taught me the value of service and the rewards that come from helping others. To the extent I have helped GSA, the Society has them to thank.

Citation by Jonathan G. Price

Marilyn Suiter’s service to GSA is indeed distinguished. As mentor of students, Geology and Society Division leader, GSA Councilor, and member of many committees, Marilyn has been an effective advocate for every GSA member.

Her record of service to GSA includes membership on the Minorities and Women in the Geosciences Committee from 1993 to 1995, the Nominations Committee from 2002 to 2006 and again from 2015 to 2017 (including chair in the last year), the Geology & Public Policy Committee from 2006 to 2008, the Joint Technical Program Committee in 2008 and 2009, the Public Service Award Committee from 2014 to 2017 (including chair one year), the Doris Curtis Memorial Committee from 2013 to 2015, the Audit Committee from 2015 to 2016, and the Programmatic Overview Committee from 2015 to 2016.

Marilyn was part of the leadership of the Geology and Society Division from 2005 to 2009, serving as chair in 2007-08. During her tenure, the G&S Division brought excellent speakers to GSA annual meetings and encouraged many geoscientists to be advocates for science in public policy. She was elected to Council for the 2012-16 term and served on the Executive Committee in 2015-16.

As Chair of the Nominations Committee, she strengthened the process for nominating Councilors, Officers, and committee members, thereby ensuring that GSA is a welcoming scientific organization for all. She counsels students, young professionals, and established scientists in decisions concerning their careers and interactions with others. The fact that she is respected by essentially everyone in science makes it easy for her to connect people for their mutual benefits. Her dedication to expanding diversity in the sciences was recognized with the 2010 Bromery Award. Her concern for others extends well beyond women and minorities and well beyond geoscientists. All who interact with Marilyn are blessed by her genuine interest in their wellbeing.

Marilyn’s education, work experience, and volunteer activities have allowed her to develop long-lasting friendships with a diverse group of students and professionals. With geoscience degrees from Franklin & Marshall College and Wesleyan University, she has been a science teacher in the Philadelphia public schools, a geologic mapper at the U.S. Geological Survey, an exploration geologist with Cities Service Oil and Gas, a key education and human resources staff member at the American Geological Institute, and an adjunct faculty member at American University. Since 1998 she has been a program director in education and human resources at the National Science Foundation, where she has also managed NSF’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program and the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

In addition to helping our profession through GSA, Marilyn has volunteered on various committees and panels of the Association of Women Geoscientists (AWG, for whom she was President and from whom she received the Distinguished Service Award), American Geosciences Institute (from whom she received the Explorer Award), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Geophysical Union, National Research Council, National Science Foundation, American Institute of Physics, Association for Women in Science (AWIS), National Science Teachers Association, National Association for Black Geologists and Geophysicists, and American Education Research Association. She has been honored as a Fellow of AAAS, AWIS, and GSA.

Thank you, Marilyn, for all you have done for GSA and for advancing our science and profession!

2018 Distinguished Service Award — Response by Marilyn J. Suiter

Thank you for those kind words. I very much appreciate those kind words, the support of the nominator and GSA Council, and the significant honor of receiving a 2018 GSA Distinguished Service Award. I also salute my two companion award recipients.

I extend a special thank you to the DSA predecessors who have long stood as role models for leadership and service, and for the partnership and support of the GSA Foundation and associated organizations.

As we work to advance geoscience research and discovery, to be advocates of an inclusive geoscience profession, and to be good stewards of planet Earth and its resources, with talented colleagues such as you engaged in service to GSA, we are unlimited in what we can achieve. 

“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.” — Nelson Mandela