Morgan Receives 2013 Paul G. Silver Award for Outstanding Scientific Service

Julia K. Morgan received the 2013 Paul G. Silver Award for Outstanding Scientific Service at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the fields of geodesy, seismology, or tectonophysics through mentoring of junior colleagues, leadership of community research initiatives, or other forms of unselfish collaboration in research.


morgan_julia-kJulia Morgan received her Ph.D. in 1993 from the Cornell University. She joined the Department of Earth Sciences at Rice University in 1999 and has been a full professor since 2009. Julia is well known for a rare combination of skills in field geology and quantitative modeling. Her broad scientific background and leadership quality make her an exemplary leader for a major scientific program as multidisciplinary as Geodynamic Processes at Rifting and Subducting Margins (GeoPRISMS) (

In 2009, when the MARGINS program was coming to a successful closure, Juli chaired a committee to lead its transition to GeoPRISMS and to develop a science plan for the new program. Her vision and efforts set GeoPRISMS on a promising path before she became its inaugural chair in 2010. GeoPRISMS consists of two main topics (for convergent and divergent boundaries) with five primary sites around the globe for focused collaborative studies. Research methods include geodesy; seismology; and various marine and land-based geophysical, geochemical, and geological methods, under the broad category of tectonophysics. Synergy with other national and international scientific programs needed to be explored. Collaborative relationships with other countries that are intimately linked to GeoPRISMS science needed to be nurtured. Changes in funding scenarios in response to the U.S. economy needed to be respected. In dealing with competing scientific interests of different groups, hard decisions and compromises needed to be made. Juli handled this complex and demanding task calmly, energetically, and unselfishly.

Juli’s hard work has paid off. The results are successful proposals, effective community interactions, motivated young scientists, and clearly articulated science. From the initial development of GeoPRISMS science and implementation plans to today’s smooth operation of the program, with an increasing global effect, each step is a demonstration of Juli’s dedication to serving the scientific community. She truly deserves the Paul Silver Award.

—KELIN WANG, Pacific Geoscience Centre, Geological Survey of Canada, Sidney, British Columbia


Thank you, Kelin, for your kind words and nomination, and thanks to the Tectonophysics, Seismology, and Geodesy sections for extending this honor. I also want to recognize the efforts of so many others who really drove the GeoPRISMS program; my job was primarily as a facilitator, channeling the great ideas of the community into distinctive scientific opportunities benefiting a large number of researchers, and what a creative, energetic, and generous community it is. It has been particularly satisfying to watch GeoPRISMS grow during my term as chair, especially with the enthusiastic involvement of the students and early-career researchers who are the future of the program.

I wish to give special credit to the people who worked the hardest on behalf of the program, specifically, members of the GeoPRISMS steering committee, the education advisory committee, and so many workshop organizers and other contributors to the GeoPRISMS Science and Implementation Plans. I am grateful to the National Science Foundation for entrusting me with this responsibility and providing the guidance and funding to keep the program going. My staff did the hard work of keeping things running smoothly; thank you, Alana Holmes, Charles Bopp, Susi Haveman, August Costa, and Anaïs Férot.

And I need to acknowledge the ongoing contributions of Geoff Abers, who ensured the smooth transition from MARGINS to GeoPRISMS. He also served as advisor and mentor throughout my term and continues to be involved in productive GeoPRISMS activities. Without his paving the way, none of this would have been possible.

Finally, I am grateful for all that I learned during my term about continental margins, scientific cooperation, and exciting research problems still to be solved. I am much richer for these experiences and for the colleagues I gained along the way. I look forward to working with all of you in years to come.

—JULIA K. MORGAN, Rice University, Houston, Texas