Stanley Receives 2010 William Gilbert Award

Sabine Stanley received the William Gilbert Award at the 2010 AGU Fall Meeting, held 13–17 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes outstanding and unselfish work in magnetism of Earth materials and of the Earth and planets.


stanley_sabineI am very happy to present this year’s William Gilbert Award for an outstanding researcher under age 36 to Sabine Stanley for her major theoretical contributions to planetary magnetism. Sabine’s trademark is the use of dynamo theory to explore the effects of non-Earth-like conditions, like unusual core geometries and core convective regimes, as possible explanations for the diversity of observed dynamos.

This has allowed her to range intellectually over almost the entire solar system. For example, she has argued that the restriction of intense crustal remanent magnetization to the Martian southern hemisphere could be explained by an ancient hemispherical dynamo resulting from the same mechanism that generated the crustal dichotomy.

Another example is her work on Mercury. Traditional scaling laws predict that Mercury’s surface field should perhaps be orders of magnitude larger than that recently measured by the Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft. She has proposed two different mechanisms to explain this discrepancy that invoke unusual convection patterns resulting from Mercury’s large inner core and nonideal behavior of iron-sulfur mixtures.

Then there is her Ph.D. work on the ice giants Uranus and Neptune. Both are distinguished by their extremely nondipolar, nonaxisymmetric surface fields. Sabine showed how these dynamos are a natural outcome of a thin-shell geometry that results from their predicted stably stratified interiors.

Finally, there is Sabine’s work on the possibility of ancient dynamos on asteroids. She has shown that despite their small size, many of these objects should have been capable of dynamo generation for millions of years or longer in the early solar system. Recent paleomagnetic studies of meteorites are now beginning to support these ideas.

In summary, I cannot think of a better candidate than Sabine for the Gilbert Award. I view Sabine like all of my favorite authors: I can’t wait to read her next work!

Benjamin P. Weiss, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge


I have many people to thank for the honor of receiving the William Gilbert Award. First, Ben Weiss, thank you for the gracious citation, for introducing me to some very exciting meteorites, and for being a great colleague to work with these past few years. Next, thank you, Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism (GP) section officers, for this recognition and also for your time and effort in running the GP section. I believe I speak for more than just myself when I say we greatly appreciate your hard work. Next, I want to thank my students for keeping me on my toes and inspiring me to always learn new things. One thing I love to tell my students is how stimulating and nurturing our scientific community is, and I want to thank all of my colleagues for that.

Throughout my academic career, I have been exceptionally fortunate to have fantastic mentors. My Ph.D. supervisor, Jeremy Bloxham, and my postdoctoral supervisor, Maria Zuber, taught me how to do science and provided me with the support to explore my research interests. Thank you for being truly inspiring. In addition, I wouldn’t be where I am without Jerry Mitrovica, whom I first met over 15 years ago when I was a freshman physics student planning to study. By sneaking geophysics examples into a first-year physics course, Jerry recruited me to this exciting field. His mentorship throughout my undergraduate degree set me on my academic path, and when I returned to the University of Toronto as an assistant professor several years ago, I was fortunate to benefit from his support once again. Thank you for all of your wisdom and guidance.

Finally, I need to thank my family, especially my husband, Tony, for all of their love and support.

Sabine Stanley, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Kirschvink Receives 2011 William Gilbert Award

Joseph Kirschvink received the William Gilbert Award at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting, held 5–9 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes outstanding and unselfish work in magnetism of Earth materials and of the Earth and planets.


kirschvink_josephI am honored to present the 2011 William Gilbert Award to Joseph Kirschvink in recognition of his fundamental contributions to research and education in paleomagnetism and geology.

Joe started making major discoveries almost immediately upon finishing college, when he obtained some of the first early Cambrian magnetostratigraphic records and participated in the discovery of the first five Cambrian carbon isotope anomalies. He also collected Moroccan ash samples, which ultimately led to a redefinition of the Cambrian time scale, which meant that early animal evolution was even more explosive than had been previously thought. This led Joe to propose that this might be linked to true polar wander, the coherent large-scale rotation of Earth’s mantle and crust.

Joe went on to study even older rocks, demonstrating a positive fold test for the near-equatorial glaciogenic Elatina Formation. This provided critical support for his snowball Earth hypothesis that the Earth was globally glaciated in the Proterozoic.

Simultaneous with these geologic peregrinations, Joe helped found the new field of biomagnetism. He discovered south seeking magnetotactic bacteria and was the first to identify magnetofossils. His subsequent work led to the discovery of the magnetic field sensory organelles in animals, the first truly new sensory organ identified in higher animals since sonar in bats was discovered 70 years ago.

Joe’s contributions to paleomagnetic methodology have also profoundly changed our field. As a student, he introduced the use of principal component analysis to paleomagnetism. With Mike Fuller, he critically supported the development of the 2G magnetometer and had the very first one installed in his lab. He also played a major role in the development of SQUID (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device) microscopy, a new paleomagnetic mapping technique with unprecedented sensitivity and spatial resolution.

On top of all of these and other unmentioned research achievements, Joe is a truly extraordinary mentor and teacher. I count myself among a huge loyal following of former students working in paleomagnetism, geology, biology, and planetary science.

In summary, Joe represents everything we are looking for in a William Gilbert awardee. He is an “ideas man,” a gadfly, working at the edge of the crowd while the crowd chases after him!


Benjamin P. Weiss, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge


Ben, thank you for your overly generous citation, which I think minimizes the contributions and stimulation I’ve received over the years from the off-the-scale students I’ve had! I was recently trying to clean up my office, and I found a batch of the “nut” term papers from my Earth history class from approximately 30 years ago. There were essays on true polar wander, low­latitude glaciation, panspermia, crazy mass extinction hypotheses, and even earthquake prediction by animals. By deliberately having my students track down and write scientific review papers on unconventional and wacko topics, a lot has obviously rubbed off on me over the years. I’m particularly indebted to Dawn Sumner, Paul Filmer, Robin Chang, Rob Ripperdan, Linda Maepa, Rob Ferber, David Evans, Chris Pluhar, Jack Holt, José Hurtado, Kevin Boyce, Ben Weiss, Tim Raub, Francis Macdonald, Isaac Hilburn, Cody Nash, Bob Kopp, Sonia Tikoo, Sarah Slotznick, and many others. Also, I would really like to thank my wife, Atsuko, for being extraordinarily patient with me, and my boys, Jiseki and Koseki, for actually liking their geological names.

And the William Gilbert Award? Egad. I’m humbled. I’ve always been fascinated by magnets, and I have fond memories of doing a fourth- or fifth-grade science report on William Gilbert. I built my first pulse magnetizer in grade school, wrapping a coil around a cardboard tube and crafting a “fuse” with a thin strip of aluminum foil. Plugging this into a wall outlet made a wonderful flash, and anything in the tube was hit with a great magnetic pulse. I’m glad I did not burn our house down! I am a bit worried, though: William Gilbert apparently died in one of the Black Plague epidemics that swept through Europe 400 years ago. I hope I never encounter (or create!) a pathological strain of magnetotactic bacteria!

When you work in interdisciplinary fields, awards like the Gilbert are few and far between. I sometimes feel that the crowds following me have been throwing bricks and tomatoes! The medal is beautiful, so round and heavy. I’ll happily accept this one and run with it! Many thanks.


Joseph L. Kirschvink, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

Larson Receives Geodesy Section Award

Kristine M. Larson received the Geodesy Section Award on 23 May 2006 at the 2006 Joint Assembly in Baltimore, Md. The award is given in recognition of major advances in geodesy.


larson_kristineFor the past 15 years, Kristine Larson has been at the forefront of research in the development and application of high-precision Global Positioning System (GPS) techniques to geophysical problems.

Kristine received her bachelor’s degree in engineering sciences from Harvard University [Cambridge, Mass.] in 1985. She subsequently entered the Ph.D. program in geophysics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography [La Jolla, Calif.]. Working with Duncan Agnew, her dissertation was one of the first to evaluate GPS accuracy and use it for geophysical studies.

From 1988 to 1990, she was also a member of the technical staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) [Pasadena, Calif.] where she worked with the team that developed the GIPSY [GPS Inferred Positioning System] software. In 1990, she joined the faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she is now a professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences.

Kristine’s science research focuses on measuring and interpreting crustal deformation with GPS. She published some of the first plate velocities based solely on GPS. She has also studied plate boundary zone deformation in Alaska, Nepal, Tibet, Ethiopia, California, and Mexico. In the latter collaboration with UNAM [Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México], episodic slip was first reported in Guerrero [Mexico].

Kristine’s research has also emphasized engineering development by pushing the temporal sampling of GPS to subdaily intervals. She has worked on problems as diverse as measuring ice sheet motion in Greenland, comparing atomic frequency standards, and volcanic inflation on Kilauea [Hawaii]. In 2003, she and her colleagues extended GPS into seismic frequencies with the first observations of seismic waves. These data were subsequently used to evaluate triggering of earthquakes outside the Denali rupture zone [Alaska]. Her group has more recently improved high-rate GPS analysis techniques for source studies of the San Simeon [California], Tokachi-Oki [Japan], and Parkfield [California] earthquakes.

Larson has clearly established herself as a leader in the field of GPS geodesy. Her research program is extremely vibrant and has brought much benefit to the community. Her unique expertise is an outgrowth of exceptional engineering and scientific skill combined with great intellectual curiosity, creativity, and persistence. I am very grateful to Tim Dixon [University of Miami, Fla.] and Paul Segall [Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.], who strongly supported her nomination, and to the AGU Geodesy Section selection committee for making such an excellent choice.

Penina Axelrad, University of Colorado, Boulder


I would like to thank everyone involved in nominating me for this award. As Penny says, my research program includes both science and engineering. Combining the efforts has forced me to continually challenge myself. Understanding the intricacies of GPS has helped me do better science; conversely, understanding the underlying physics of the problem I am trying to solve has motivated me to think of ways to improve the accuracy of GPS. The reward has come from working on so many interesting problems with a diverse cast of colleagues.

In the mid-1980s, I went to graduate school convinced that I wanted to become a seismologist. Instead, I became involved with one of the first geophysics experiments designed with GPS. At this juncture there were very few classes on GPS, and there was no ‘how-to’ book. I was fortunate to be able to learn both from the strong GPS group at JPL and the engineers who developed VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry) and SLR (Satellite Laser Ranging) for the Crustal Dynamics Project. I also had the good luck to work with many geodesists outside the United States on collaborative research projects.

Today the use of GPS has become commonplace in geophysics, to the extent that a colleague of mine recently complained that his incoming students think plate tectonics was discovered by GPS. My own work on measuring plate tectonics with GPS always reminds me of my father’s stories about working as an engineer for the Deep Sea Drilling Project in the 1970s. In both cases, scientists and engineers worked together to build new tools for geophysics. I am grateful to many colleagues and cannot properly thank everyone in this short note, but I do want to especially acknowledge my family and Jim Rice [Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.], Charbel Farhat [Stanford University, Calif.], Bob Miller, and George Rosborough.

Kristine M. Larson, University of Colorado, Boulder

Nerem Receives 2006 Geodesy Section Award

R. Steven Nerem received the Geodesy Section Award at the 2006 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given in recognition of major advances in geodesy.


nerem_stevenSteve Nerem has been at the forefront of geodetic and oceanographic research since receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, in 1989. He is currently professor of aerospace engineering sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is a Fellow of the Colorado Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. He also serves as associate director of the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research.

Steve is a specialist in satellite geodesy and its applications to solid Earth physics, ocean dynamics, and related climate sciences. His work covers almost all areas of satellite geodesy: satellite orbit determination, satellite remote sensing, geodetic techniques (laser ranging, GPS, Doris, altimetry, GRACE), gravity field determination, vertical crustal motions, geocenter motion, timevariable gravity and application to Earth mass redistribution, ocean dynamics, ocean topography, and sea level change. He has also applied space techniques to measuring the gravity fields of Mars and Venus. Because these topics are interdisciplinary from the point of view of Earth sciences, Steve has become involved in a variety of disciplines.

A recent contribution of Steve’s is his work on global mean sea level variations using satellite altimetry and tide gauges as well as the climatic causes of the observed change. Steve has published a series of basic papers on this topic. Determination of global mean sea level rise by satellite altimetry is now considered extremely robust, a necessary condition to detect any influence of global warming on the changing mean sea level. He has also contributed to the interpretation of data from the GRACE Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment mission, especially for detecting ocean mass change and its contribution to global mean sea level.

Steve actively serves the geodetic community in several aspects. Inside the American Geophysical Union, he was secretary of the Geodesy Section from 2002 to 2004, and is a former associate editor of JGR and Eos. He also gave the Bowie Lecture at the 2005 AGU Fall Meeting.

To summarize, Steve Nerem has made impressively creative and enduring contributions to many areas of satellite geodesy and is very deserving of this award. I thank Anne Cazenave for her letter strongly supporting Steve’s nomination.

George Born, University of Colorado, Boulder.


I would first like to thank everyone who helped nominate me for this award. I feel very fortunate to have chosen satellite geodesy as my field of research; over the years it has taken me into many different areas of Earth and planetary science. It was the positive influences in graduate school that led me down this path—Byron Tapley, Bob Schutz, George Born, John Ries, George Rosborough, and C. K. Shum, among others. I couldn’t have asked for a better first job at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where Dave Smith, Chet Koblinsky, Steve Klosko, Jim Marsh, and many others helped get my career off to a great start, collaborations that continue today. My academic career, first at the University of Texas and then at the University of Colorado, would not have been possible without the great experience I had at NASA. I have benefited from working with many collaborators over the years, but I would especially like to thank Eric Leuliette, Gary Mitchum, and Don Chambers for their ‘unselfish cooperation in research.’ I’d like to thank my graduate students for teaching me as much as I have taught them. Finally, I’d like to thank the many close friends I have made over the years working in this field; you really make me look forward to going to all those meetings! One of the most rewarding experiences of my career has been my involvement in the TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason satellite missions—it has been exciting both scientifically and culturally, a real model for how joint missions between two countries should be done. My sabbatical in France was a direct result of these collaborations, and I’d like to thank my many friends in Toulouse for a rewarding experience.

Satellite geodesy is arguably the most multidisciplinary field in geophysics; it is the ‘glue’ that ties different fields together to help solve important problems affecting different components of the Earth system. I believe satellite geodetic measurements are going to become one of our most important tools in the next decade for figuring out how the Earth is changing and why, and I am truly grateful to be working during this exciting time in our field.

R. Steven Nerem, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Tamisiea Receives 2007 Geodesy Section Award

Mark Tamisiea received the Geodesy Section Award at the 2007 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given in recognition of major advances in geodesy.


tamisiea_markMark Tamisiea has made significant and original advances in solid Earth geophysics and has begun to be an important leader in the geodesy community. He has actively applied models of glacial isostatic adjustment and gravity data from the GRACE mission to address practical problems in ice sheet history, sea level variation, and short- and long-term solid Earth deformation.

After his undergraduate training in physics at Grinnell College, Mark completed a Ph.D. with John Wahr at the University of Colorado. He was a postdoctoral fellow with Jerry Mitrovica at the University of Toronto and a geophysicist at the Harvard Smithsonian Observatory with Jim Davis. At present, he is a research scientist at Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory.

Much of Mark’s research has been to develop and apply innovative approaches in geodesy to infer the sources of global sea level change. For example, Mark developed a technique to determine robust estimates of the annual amplitude and trend of the surface mass of glacier complexes, reducing the uncertainty in estimates of their contribution to recent sea level rise. He has applied this technique to glacier complexes in Alaska and Patagonia, confirming the rapid rate of their melting and demonstrating a new method to obtain results from relatively small scale features using GRACE data.

Recently, Mark used results from GRACE to constrain ancient Laurentide ice geometries, providing conclusive evidence that the ice sheet was composed of two domes. This work resolved a long-standing debate about the morphology of the ice sheet and has put tighter constraints on how the ice sheet developed and evolved. More significantly, Mark isolated changes in the gravity field due to mantle convection and was able to test the hypothesis that the continental tectosphere is neutrally buoyant.

In addition, Mark actively serves the geodetic community in several aspects. He is a respected member of the GRACE Science Working Team. He was meeting cochair of the UNAVCO annual meetings for 2 years and has been a member of the Stable North American Reference Frame (SNARF) Working Group.

Mark Tamisiea has made impressively creative and noteworthy contributions to geodesy and is most deserving of this award.

Eric Leuliette, NOAA, Silver Spring, Md.


I greatly appreciate receiving this award and would like to thank all of those involved in the process. I am very fortunate to be working at the boundary between geophysical modeling and geodesy at a time when both the sources and the number of geodetic data have been increasing so quickly. A prime example of this is new data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission. I benefited considerably from finishing my Ph.D. while John Wahr’s group was studying the ability of a gravity mission to monitor the motion of water over the surface of the Earth. The GRACE data give unique insight into the temporal variability of length scales between those of the point-position information provided by GPS and absolute gravity observations and the very longest wavelengths revealed by earlier gravity missions, such as LAGEOS. Aided by modeling to assist in interpretation, the GRACE data have given us a better understanding of the current integrated mass balance of the glaciers and ice sheets, as well as the geometry and continuing impact of the late Pleistocene/early Holocene ice sheets.

However, I believe sea level studies most clearly demonstrate the strength of combining geodetic data and modeling studies. My appreciation of the challenges of studying sea level more fully developed during my postdoctoral fellowship with Jerry Mitrovica and later working with Jim Davis. Geodesy plays a vital role in quantifying the changes in sea level, while modeling gives a means to integrating and interpreting the observations. As each of the measurement types is affected differently by a geophysical process, such as melting ice sheets or glacial isostatic adjustment, exploiting all of the data types simultaneously will give us greater ability to identify the relative contributions of each process. Incorporating oceanographic models and data into the analysis will give much better insight into all of the processes contributing to sea level rise. Thus I am looking forward to working with my new colleagues at the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory to continue studying sea level variations. I would like to thank all my collaborators for their assistance and patience over the years, especially John, Jerry, and Jim; everyone involved in data collection and processing, particularly the GRACE mission team; as well as my friends and family for their support.

Mark Tamisiea, Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Liverpool, U.K.

Chambers Receives 2008 Geodesy Section Award

Don P. Chambers received the 2008 Geodesy Section Award at the 2008 AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held 17 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given in recognition of major advances in geodesy.


chambers_donDon P. Chambers is a highly respected member of the satellite altimetry, satellite gravity, and oceanographic communities and has made many original contributions on the El Niño phenomenon, ocean heat storage, ocean circulation, and long-term sea level change. Since receiving his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, in 1996, he has worked there as a research scientist at the Center for Space Research. He has published on a wide array of topics related to geodesy, oceanography, hydrology, and glaciology. Don can more than hold his own in scientific conversations with leaders in any of these fields, which is really important in the field of geodesy today, because it has changed so much over the past decade. One of the reasons I felt so strongly that Don should receive this award is because I view him as one of the “new breed” of geodesists who works on multidisciplinary problems using all different types of satellite and in situ measurements. Don’s work on data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission exemplifies this—he has moved beyond the narrow geodetic interests of geopotential coefficients and orbit determination to become an expert on the applications of these data to critical problems in Earth system science. He has a keen mind for science but also possesses the geodetic and data analysis skills to extract the science from complex geodetic data sets. He is a member of the NASA science teams for the Jason 1, Jason 2, and GRACE missions—a significant accomplishment. One of the reasons for this success is Don’s innovative approach to problem solving; he always seems to have a clever solution for the complex problems we face in geodesy today. This, coupled with his ability to understand multiple scientific disciplines, has allowed him to make many important contributions to our field. Don has quickly developed into one of the leaders of the “new” geodesy era we are currently experiencing as technologies such as Global Positioning System, satellite gravity, and satellite altimetry have transformed the field. As Don embarks on a new academic career at the University of South Florida, I am confident he will continue to make important advances in our field.

R. Steven Nerem, Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences and Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research, University of Colorado, Boulder


I am honored to receive the Geodesy Section Award. When I started my graduate studies at the University of Texas Center for Space Research (CSR) under Byron Tapley, I did not have any appreciation of what geodesy was. One of my undergraduate friends told me that CSR “measured the Earth’s gravity,” which did not seem all that exciting at the time. I figured I would accept the graduate research assistant position, do the work asked of me, and study what I was really interested in: satellite missions to asteroids. One look at my publications will show that never happened. Instead, I have worked on precise orbit determination, determination of the Earth’s gravity, sea level change, ocean circulation, ocean heat storage, Rossby wave dynamics, El Niño, ocean bottom pressure, and the global water cycle. I have learned that geodesy is a lot more than just measuring gravity. I feel lucky now that I was offered that first position and that I accepted it. It gave me the unique opportunity to be involved early in two groundbreaking satellite geodesy missions: TOPEX/POSEIDON and the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. Working with the early data from both of these missions has given me keen insight into the mixture of engineering and science necessary to measure sea level and gravity from space.

Geodesy is perhaps the most interdisciplinary of all the sciences, and I am fortunate to have worked with numerous colleagues over the years. There are too many to name, but I would like especially to thank Steve Nerem for our long-term partnership on measuring sea level change, and Bob Stewart and Victor Zlotnicki for early support and guidance in my efforts to use geodetic measurements and techniques to study the ocean.

Don P. Chambers, University of Texas at Austin

Han Receives 2009 Geodesy Section Award

Shin-Chan Han received the AGU 2009 Geodesy Section Award at the 2009 AGU Fall Meeting, held 14–18 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given in recognition of major advances in geodesy.


han_shin-chanIt gives us great pleasure to see Shin-Chan Han receive AGU’s 2009 Geodesy Section Award, presented to a young scientist for major advances in the field of geodesy.

Shin-Chan burst upon the geodetic scene just before the launch of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, and the timing could not have been more propitious—both for Shin-Chan and for the GRACE project. His doctoral thesis at Ohio State University dealt with efficient methods for determining gravity from satellite-to-satellite tracking data, of the sort GRACE was soon providing. Soon thereafter a remarkable series of papers began to appear, as Shin-Chan exploited the new time-variable gravity measurements for applications ranging from surface water hydrology, to earthquake deformation, to ocean tides. All of these used new and highly original methods for extracting signals from the basic satellite tracking data. His analysis of the gravity changes associated with the great 2004 Sumatra earthquake was a revelation to many, for it emphasized the power of satellite gravity data to complement seismology, for example, by constraining the long-wavelength viscoelastic relaxation and subsequent stress redistribution.

We are impressed by Shin-Chan’s ability, at his young age, to reach out across disciplines, to establish new and productive collaborations, and to understand what important problems are ripe for advancement. He has, for example, recently applied some of his new techniques to improving our knowledge of the Moon’s gravity field. We are sure that Shin-Chan has many similar advances ahead of him and is therefore most deserving of this award.

Richard D. Ray, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Christopher Jekeli, Ohio State University, Columbus


Thank you, Richard and Chris, for your generous remarks. I am thrilled and honored to accept this award from the Geodesy section of AGU.

I started to study geodetic science simply due to my interest in the Global Positioning System (GPS) right after I graduated from an Earth science department in South Korea—at that time, geodesy was very esoteric to me. While studying at the geodetic science department at Ohio State University, I soon learned the intricate and fascinating relationship between geometric and gravimetric aspects of geodesy. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study geodesy and to participate in the GRACE science team. The work with GRACE for applications to climate, hydrology, oceanography, tectonics, and solid Earth is not only an important interdisciplinary research agenda that geodesy can uniquely address, but it is also simply a lot of fun.

During my study and work I have also been very fortunate to meet people who encourage my work and are very supportive in many ways. I would like to thank colleagues I meet every day in Greenbelt, Md., including Dave Rowlands, Richard Ray, Frank Lemoine, Scott Luthcke, and Jeanne Sauber. I would also like to acknowledge the folks at Ohio State University, Christopher Jekeli, C. K. Shum, Mike Bevis, and Doug Alsdorf. I am delighted to share this honor with them. They are the ones who give me confidence and enjoyment in my research on geodesy. This award indeed invigorates me. I hope this event is expanded so that many other young geodetic scientists are stimulated and recognized.

Finally, I thank my family and wife, In-Young, for being with me. I appreciate her listening to me ramble about satellites and gravity. I always thank God for being patient with me.

Shin-Chan Han, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., and University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore

Kreemer Receives 2010 Geodesy Section Award

Corné Kreemer received the 2010 Geodesy Section Award at the 2010 AGU Fall Meeting, held 13–17 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given in recognition of major advances in geodesy.


kreemer_corneIt is a great pleasure for us to cite Corné Kreemer for the 2010 Geodesy Section Award, which is awarded to early to middle—career scientists to recognize major advances in geodesy. Both of us have been very fortunate to have worked with Corné during this first phase of his career, starting with Bill Holt at State University of New York at Stony Brook and now with Geoff Blewitt at University of Nevada, Reno.

Although the official citation given at the 2010 AGU Fall Meeting was necessarily very short to fit on the plaque, we would like to take this opportunity to provide a more detailed citation that reflects the diversity and depth of Corné’s contributions: In recognition of major innovations, discoveries, and scientific contributions in geodesy and its application to tectonophysics, as exemplified by (1) a novel technique to determine absolute plate motions independent of hot spots by joint inversion of space geodetic data and seismic shear wave splitting orientations; (2) the first empirical determination of present-day motion and deformation of the Colorado Plateau; (3) the discovery of an active shear zone connecting the Wasatch Front to the Eastern California Shear Zone; and (4) major advances in the development of the International Lithosphere Project’s Global Strain Rate Map.

The number of his publications in high-quality journals is staggering for someone still early in his career. Having obtained his Ph.D. as recently as 2001, he has 39 peer-reviewed publications, 30 of which are in highly regarded peer-reviewed journals, including GeologyJournal of Geophysical ResearchGeophysical Research LettersTectonophysicsGeophysical Journal InternationalEarth and Planetary Science Letters,Journal of Geodesy, and Seismological Research Letters.

Corné Kreemer is a rising star in geodesy. With his stellar trajectory, the best part about this is that we know for sure that we are in for some pleasant surprises as he continues to find new ways to apply geodesy to tease the data and reveal more about our interesting planet.

Geoffrey Blewitt, University of Nevada, Reno; and WILLIAM HOLT, State University of New York at Stony Brook


I am honored to receive this award, and I feel deeply indebted to AGU, the Geodesy section, and those involved in the nominating process who bestowed on me this honor.

By good fortune, I embarked on a career in geophysics at the same time that GPS began to be used to measure plate motion and crustal deformation. Before I knew about GPS, I enjoyed a solid background in geophysics at Utrecht University, Netherlands. For my master’s thesis I began to use the new modeling tools developed by John Haines and Bill Holt. I started my Ph.D. project with Bill, utilizing the rapidly expanding database of GPS velocity measurements and John’s clever rewrite of the software to model strain rates worldwide. By doing things globally I was able to venture into directions that still fascinate me: earthquake statistics and absolute plate motions. It also got me in touch with Geoff Blewitt and his effort to create global GPS solutions.

Working with Xavier Le Pichon and colleagues in France provided a much needed chance to combine data from GPS, seismicity, and geology and to place models of surface deformation into the context of tectonic evolution, deeper deformation, and the driving forces. At the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), I found an exceptional group in which to broaden my skills and interests. Geoff’s ability to create GPS time series for thousands of stations around the world provides a chance to revolutionize our understanding of earthquakes, plate tectonics, and mass movement. My particular excitement comes from probing the subtleties in time-variable strain, the deformation in slowly deforming areas, and the role of the processes that lie below.

I wish to thank all whom I have had the honor to work with, the geodetic community for sharing data, my UNR colleagues for their support, and my wife and parents for their love and encouragement.

Corné Kreemer, University of Nevada, Reno

Swenson Receives 2011 Geodesy Section Award

Sean Claude Swenson received the 2011 Geodesy Section Award at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting, held 5–9 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given in recognition of major advances in geodesy.


swenson_seanWe are delighted to see Sean Swenson receive the 2011 Geodesy Section Award. Sean is a superb young scientist who, through his ideas and publications, has had a significant impact on the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission. He has fundamentally advanced the way people analyze and interpret GRACE data. His work has involved both the development of analysis techniques and the application of those techniques to geophysical problems.

Sean’s contributions to GRACE analysis include the development of methods for transforming the GRACE spherical harmonic gravity coefficients into regional estimates of surface mass and his discovery of a way to clean up much of the short-scale noise in the publicly available GRACE data. Both of these techniques are straightforward to implement and are now routinely applied by users everywhere.

But Sean’s work extends well beyond the development of analysis methods. His reason for working on analysis procedures was his desire to extract small, localized signals from GRACE data to study geophysical problems. He has used GRACE to study such varied things as the mixed-layer depth of the Caspian Sea; the vertical and horizontal scales of soil moisture in various regions of North America; the source of lake level fluctuations in Lake Victoria; regional-​scale fluxes of atmospheric water vapor; and the reliability of the large-scale, high-latitude winter precipitation data sets routinely used to force climate models.

Sean’s work has been extremely influential, especially for somebody so early in his career. He is an innovative, rigorous, enthusiastic, and highly unassuming young scientist who is an outstanding choice for the Geodesy Section Award.


John Wahr, Department of Physics and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder
Mark Tamisiea, National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool, UK


I am honored to receive the AGU Geodesy Section Award; it is certainly a pleasant surprise. My contributions to geodesy derive from my involvement with the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), which has been to me and many others a tremendous source of information and opportunity. The scope of geophysical phenomena that can be addressed by GRACE is extensive, including glacial ice loss, land-ocean water exchange, groundwater depletion, and surface water management to name but a few.

For the past 10 or more years the GRACE mission has enabled me to explore a wide variety of topics in the Earth sciences, from spectral analysis and filtering techniques to hydrological modeling. While GRACE has already helped quantify the role of terrestrial water storage in the water cycle, many questions remain. Some will be answered by longer data records, some by ­higher-​­accuracy future GRACE-type missions, and some by novel applications of current data.

I am eager to see what new insights the GRACE community will obtain in the future, and I hope to remain an active participant in those endeavors.

We are all born ignorant and spend the rest of our lives hopefully becoming less so. I would like to thank those who have helped my slow progress down that path. There are many colleagues in the geodetic community and collaborators in other fields whose interactions have benefited me, but I would especially like to thank Mark Tamisiea and Isabella Velicogna for their constant encouragement and, most of all, John Wahr, from whom I continue to learn what it means to be a good scientist.

Sean Claude Swenson, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo.

Dietrich Receives 2010 G. K. Gilbert Award

William E. Dietrich received the 2010 G. K. Gilbert Award at the 2010 AGU Fall Meeting, held 13–17 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes “a scientist who has either made a single significant advance or sustained significant contributions to the field of Earth and planetary surface processes, and who has in addition promoted an environment of unselfish cooperation in research and the inclusion of young scientists into the field.”


dietrich_william-eWilliam “Bill” Dietrich’s contributions to geomorphology, hydrology, and ecogeomorphology are unequaled in breadth and quality. We are particularly honored to recognize his accomplishments in this inaugural awarding of the G. K. Gilbert Award. Bill exemplifies the depth of insights and breadth of interests that characterized the award’s namesake, G. K. Gilbert. Bill’s status in the scientific community is manifest in his election to the National Academy of Sciences and in several other honors he has received, including AGU’s 2009 Robert E. Horton Medal.

Bill is largely responsible for establishing geomorphology in AGU in its strong present role in the Earth and Planetary Surface Processes (EPSP) focus group. He was instrumental in organizing geomorphology-oriented sessions at the AGU Fall Meeting through his leading role in the Erosion and Sedimentation Subcommittee of the Hydrology section. A very significant part of his success in making AGU a primary outlet for fundamental geomorphologic research was his establishment of the Gilbert Club 25 years ago. This annual gathering immediately follows the AGU Fall Meeting and has become the premier scientific and social gathering for geomorphologists.

Many of the graduate students and postdocs working with Bill have become leading scientists in academic and government organizations. Beyond this traditional mentoring, however, Bill has been unselfish in cooperation and collaboration with the geomorphic community. He serves as a sounding board about research for many of our colleagues, and most of us have seen our theories and conjectures wither in the face of his incisive analysis.

Alan D. Howard, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville


In the early 1980s I started an annual 1-day gathering to discuss geomorphology in Berkeley on the Saturday after the annual AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco. I whimsically called it the “Gilbert Club” and offered an open invitation to anyone to come join us. The whimsy, of course, was the use of the word a “club,” as there was no organization or affiliation, and in fact no “club”—rather just a deep admiration for G. K. Gilbert. We grew from 7 to nearly 300 attendees, and now “grandstudents” of the meeting are coming, doing pop-up statements, and painting the future for us. Geomorphology is a vibrant community, enabled with new tools, and rich with great unsolved problems.

The AGU Earth and Planetary Surface Processes focus group decision to award me its first G. K. Gilbert award was a shock and, as everyone saw at the awards ceremony, left me speechless. It is an exceptionally kind act. I share this award with the fantastic group of students and postdocs at Berkeley with whom I have been lucky enough to work. There are too many individuals to thank for this honor, but I must mention three. I am in this field because when I arrived at the University of Washington hungry to begin my graduate studies, I had the great fortune to be mentored by Tom Dunne and Jim Smith. We worked together in the field, debated at the blackboard, and continued the debate as we wrote papers. The joy of discovery was ever present. I must also thank Alan Howard, who has continuously shared his deep understanding of geomorphology and guided me in many research adventures. Finally, I thank the entire geomorphology community for being what it has become. We are truly fortunate.

William E. Dietrich , Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Berkeley