2018 Public Service Award

Presented to Joaquin Ruiz

Citation by Peter G. DeCelles

For 18 years Professor Joaquin Ruiz has served as Dean of the College of Science at the University of Arizona. He was Chair of the Department of Geosciences during its rise to a routine top-five ranking among U.S. geoscience departments. He has been Councilor, Vice-President, and President of GSA. He is recognized with the GSA Public Service Award for outstanding contributions to science education of the general public. In 2006, Professor Ruiz inaugurated the College of Science's Public Lecture series, which routinely fills the university's concert hall with 3,000 attendees to hear technically cutting-edge, stylishly presented lectures by University of Arizona scientists. More than a million have viewed the lectures on YouTube. He oversees other Tucson area scientific venues and events that attract 200,000 visitors per year. For his implementation of brilliant ideas to engage the public in science, Joaquin Ruiz is an exemplar of the GSA Public Service Award.

top2018 Public Service Award — Response by Joaquin Ruiz

Thank you very much. This is quite an honor and I thank the Geological Society of America for this distinction and I thank Peter Decelles, whom I greatly admire, for having the good taste in nominating me. What drives me overall is the strong belief that education is the equalizer. Period. If we educate our public, and children to make them scientists, to people that are outside the universities, so that have a functioning democracy, that is what it's all about.

I am probably the worst person you can sit next to on an airplane. When I'm asked what I do and I say I'm an isotope geochemist, and the eyes glaze, I keep on talking until they put their earphones on and make believe they're watching a movie. In the end it's education, I think we all in here believe the same- what a better thing to educate people about, the earth- how the earth evolved, how people came out of the evolving earth, or how earth became about because of life and what people are doing to the earth that make it not as good as it should be is for our grandsons and granddaughters.

Thank you very much for this great honor.