Harry H. Hess Medal


Basic Information

Nomination Process & Requirements



The Harry H. Hess Medal is given annually to one honoree in recognition  for “outstanding achievements in research on the constitution and evolution of the Earth and other planets.”

Established in 1984, the Hess Medal is named in honor of Harry H. Hess, who made many contributions to geology, mineralogy, and geophysics. Hess served multiple terms as an AGU section president — for the Geodesy section (1950–1953) as well as the Tectonophysics section (1956–1959). Gerald J. Wasserburg was the first recipient of the Hess Medal.

For more than 30 years, Harry H. Hess was a geology professor at Princeton University. He made major contributions to the study of the oceanic lithosphere, including the concept that convection cells in the mantle were the driving force for seafloor spreading. Hess discovered and explained the formation of flat-topped seamounts (guyots), performed seafloor gravity studies while submerged aboard U.S. Navy submarines, conducted detailed mineralogic and petrologic studies of peridotites, and was an originator of scientific ocean drilling by the Mohole Project.

• Engraved medal
•AGU Conferred Fellow (if honoree is not already an AGU Fellow)
• AGU Fellow lapel pin (if honoree is not already an AGU Fellow)
•AGU Fellow certificate (if honoree is not already an AGU Fellow)
• Recognition in Eos
• Recognition at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year
•Four complimentary hotel nights at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year
•Two complimentary tickets to the Honors Banquet at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year


Nomination Process & Requirements

Nomination Eligibility:

1. Eligible Nominee. Active AGU membership is required

To determine a candidate’s AGU member status, please view the Membership Directory via the AGU Member eWeb Portal; or contact the Member Services staff at: service@agu.org.

2. Eligible Nominator. Active AGU membership is not required

3. Eligible Supporters. Active AGU membership is not required

4. Ineligible Nominees. The following individuals and/or groups are not eligible to be candidates for the Hess Medal during their terms of service:

5. Relationship to a Hess Medal Nominee. AGU policy on the relationship to a nominee is applicable to committee members, nominators, and supporters. The following relationships need to be identified and communicated to the Hess Medal Committee, but will not disqualify individuals from participating in the nomination or committee review process:

  • Current dean, departmental chair, supervisor, supervisee, laboratory director, an individual with whom one has a current business or financial relationship (e.g., business partner, employer, employee);
  • Research collaborator or co-author within the last three years; and/or
  • An individual working at the same institution or having accepted a position at the same institution.

Individuals with the following relationships are disqualified from participating in the Hess Medal nomination or committee review process (i.e., nominator, supporter, or committee member):

  • A previous graduate (Masters or Ph.D.) and/or postdoctoral advisor, or postdoctoral fellow may not write a nomination letter but may write a supporting letter after five years of terminating their relationship with the nominee beginning on 1 January after the year the relationship was terminated.
  • A former doctoral or graduate student, or a former postdoctoral fellow may not write a nomination letter for a former advisor, but may write a supporting letter after five years of terminating their relationship with the nominee beginning on 1 January after the year the relationship was terminated. The only exception to this policy is that this restriction does not apply to early career awards from sections and focus groups.
  • Chairs and members of the Hess Medal selection committee are conflicted with the above-mentioned mentor-mentee relationships and should recuse themselves from participating in the deliberation, evaluation, and voting process for that particular nominee.

Termination of a relationship is defined as follows:

For more details, please review the AGU conflict of interest policy.

6. Additional Conflicts. Members of the Hess Medal Committee may, for other reasons, determine that they have conflicts – or potential conflicts – that require elimination from service and then act on that determination if they believe that service could affect the fairness of the selection process.

7. Grandfather Clause. Holdover nominations submitted within three years (2010, 2011, and 2012) prior to the approval of the Conflict of Interest Policy (approved by Council on 15 November 2012) can be considered even if they do not adhere to the policy. Nominations submitted after 15 November 2012 must adhere to the Conflict of Interest Policy.

Nomination Requirements

Your nomination package should contain the following files, which should be no more than two (2) pages in length per document:

    1. Nomination letter with one-sentence citation (i.e., citation should be 150 characters or less). Letterhead stationary is preferred. Nominator’s name, title, institution, and contact information are required.;
    2. Nominee’s curriculum vitae. List the candidate’s (1) name, (2) mailing and e-mail address, (3) history of employment, (4) degrees, (5) research experience, (6) honors, (7) memberships, and (8) service to the community through committee work, advisory boards, etc.
    3. Nominee’s selected bibliography. Briefly state the total number and types of publications and specifying the number published in AGU publications. For example: Jane Doe is the author of 92 publications, 86 in peer-reviewed scientific journals, 14 of which have been published in AGU journals and books. The following selected list best supports Jane’s nomination for the Hess Medal.
    4. 3 letters of support (total does not include nomination letter). Letterhead stationary is preferred. Supporter’s name, title, institution, and contact information are required.

SUBMISSIONS SENT VIA POSTAL OR COURIER DELIVERY ONLY: Nomination cover sheet – All packages sent via mail or courier delivery should include a completed cover sheet. (The online submission system will generate a cover sheet for nominators.)

Please note that only complete packages will be forwarded to the Hess Medal Committee for review. For detailed information on nomination requirements, please view the AGU Union Awards, Medals and Prize frequently asked questions (FAQ) section.


Committee Members

Submission Process

Nomination Submissions

Hess Medal nominations can be submitted (1) online or (2) by regular mail delivery. However, to expedite the submission process, please use the online submission system. If you have submitted a package online, then please do not send a printed version to AGU headquarters.

To submit a nomination by regular mail delivery, please make sure to include the nomination cover sheet and mail to: American Geophysical Union, Attn: Awards Selection Committee, 2000 Florida Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20009