Hill Receives 2016 Geodesy Section Award

Emma M. Hill will receive the 2016 Geodesy Section Award at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 12–16 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given in recognition of major advances in geodesy.


Throughout her career, Emma Hill has endeavored to develop the breadth of research interests and geodetic expertise that are now her hallmark, addressing an array of multidisciplinary problems that includes sea level, glacial isostatic adjustment, atmospheric turbulence, hydrology, GNSS accuracy, and tectonics.

As a student and postdoc, Emma focused on GNSS studies of the Basin and Range. This work included the tectonics of the region and also characterization of atmospheric turbulence. She also has the distinction of publishing a GPS time series having an RMS residual of 50 microns! Emma later pioneered Bayesian combination of data from GRACE, tide gauges, and GNSS that enabled inversion for Fennoscandian glacial isostatic adjustment without estimation of parameters from a simplified Earth model.

Her recent research has focused on Southeast Asia, studying deformation associated with the Sunda megathrust using GNSS, InSAR, and coral uplift histories. These studies have led to an improved understanding of the tectonics of this region, and to discovery of a 15-year-long slow-slip event.

Emma has a strong commitment to the Earth science community. She has served as judge for the Outstanding Student Paper Award and organized a student poster competition for EarthScope. She served as Chair of the UNAVCO E&O Advisory Committee. Her activities in AGU governance include the AGU International Participation Committee and AGU Council. She is currently serving as an associate editor for Journal of Geophysical Research.

Emma is a devoted mentor and has attracted an outstanding assembly of students and postdocs to her group. She is highly valued as a mentor, group leader, and as a collaborator.

We are very pleased that the AGU Geodesy section has recognized Emma’s scientific achievements and leadership with the 2016 Geodesy Award.

—Kristine M. Larson, University of Colorado, Boulder; and James L. Davis, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, N.Y.


I feel honored to receive this award, and am grateful to Jim and Kristine for their kind citation. The award is particularly special to me because the AGU Geodesy section has long felt like my academic family; I have always been grateful for the spirit of collaboration and friendship in our community.

I feel lucky to work in a field where we connect with many disciplines in Earth science, and one in which our research is directly applicable to the significant challenges facing our communities and environment. This has been particularly clear to me since working in Southeast Asia, where some of the highest population densities on Earth are faced with tectonic, volcanic, and climate hazards for which we are answering first-order questions using geodetic data.

To maximize scientific impact, we must build capacity in the areas in which we work. It has been deeply rewarding to work with and train young scientists from Southeast Asia; I am grateful for their hospitality, enthusiasm, and introductions to tasty food.

It is impossible to individually thank everyone who has helped me along the way, but I would here like to thank Geoff Blewitt and Jim Davis for their mentorship and encouragement; Kerry Sieh and Paul Tapponnier for giving me so many exciting opportunities in Singapore; my students and postdocs for making every day at work delightful—Lujia Feng, Eric Lindsey, Louisa Tsang, Qiu Qiang, Rino Salman, Paul Morgan, Rishav Mallick, and Dongju Peng—and a host of colleagues and collaborators who have shared their time and wisdom—Mark Tamisiea, Pedro Elosegui, Aron Meltzner, and Sylvain Barbot to name just a few. I would also like to give heartfelt thanks to all the generous souls who unselfishly collect data, maintain networks, release processing code, and thus make our science possible.

—Emma M. Hill, Earth Observatory of Singapore and Asian School of the Environment, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore