Schauble Receives 2009 Hisashi Kuno Award

Edwin A. Schauble received the Hisashi Kuno Award at the 2009 AGU Fall Meeting, held 14–18 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for outstanding contributions to the fields of volcanology, geochemistry, or petrology.


schauble_edwinIt is my pleasure to present Edwin Schauble for the Hisashi Kuno Award of the AGU Volcanology, Geochemistry, and Petrology (VGP) section, for his outstanding contributions to the field of geochemistry.

Edwin is a young scientist of uncommon distinction who has made a number of important contributions through his quantitative approach to stable isotope geochemistry.

Let me start by saying that when Edwin came to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), I learned two things. First, physics really does operate in predictable ways, even where isotopes are concerned, and second, disagreeing with Edwin is usually a lesson in humility!

Edwin’s primary research entails calculating the partitioning of isotopes between materials of geological interest. In particular, he has produced pioneering predictions of partitioning among the so-called nontraditional stable isotopes. He has also followed through by testing his predictions experimentally. To date, Edwin has published important predictions for fractionation of Mg, Si, Ca, Cl, Fe, Cr, Hg, Tl, and U isotopes in a broad spectrum of minerals and fluid species.

In summary, Edwin is at the forefront of isotope geochemistry and can already claim several important discoveries to his credit, including, but not limited to, elucidation of the relative importance of valence state and coordination on iron isotope fractionation in nature, a large fractionation in Si isotopes that should exist between the metallic cores and rocky mantles of terrestrial planets, the quantification of mass-independent nuclear volume isotope effects in U and other elements, numerous predictions of mass-dependent nontraditional stable isotope fractionation with surprising accuracy, and development of the theory behind stable isotope “clumping.” This work has had a substantial impact on activities as disparate as reconstructing past climates and differentiation of terrestrial planets. His work is paving the way for new branches of geochemistry, and he is uniformly highly regarded by colleagues around the globe. For all of these reasons, I am sure you will agree that Edwin is most deserving of this prestigious award.

Edward Young, University of California, Los Angeles


Thanks for the kind introduction, and thanks to the VGP section of AGU. This award honors work done at the beginning of a career, and most of that honor should go to everyone who helped me make a good start. That list begins with my colleagues at UCLA: Ed Young, Abby Kavner, and Craig Manning, my students Jon Hunt and Pam Hill, postdoc Merlin Méheut, and many others. Sometime between junior high school and tenure, school got really fun, and all of you are the reason. I mostly try to figure out how isotopes get separated from each other—fractionated—in nature. We are in a golden age for this kind of work; talented researchers are developing new techniques to analyze isotopic compositions of one element after another, finding signatures that might help answer big questions in Earth and planetary science.

I want to thank George Rossman and Liz Johnson for helping me learn to model isotope fractionation, and Ariel Anbar and John Eiler for encouraging me to refine my initial, fairly crude results into a paper. I also want to thank John for a totally killer postdoc. My initial interest in metal isotope geochemistry owes much to Joe Kirschvink. Scientific chats with Joe tend to be about big ideas that sound crazy or impossible (think “panspermia”) but are backed up by an array of evidence (think “Snowball Earth”), and are at least occasionally true. These are still important criteria to me in finding problems to work on. I want to thank Hugh Taylor, my Ph.D. advisor, for the freedom to try something different and uncertain, and Steve Wickham, my undergraduate advisor, for introducing me to isotopes, mass spectrometers, and the satisfaction of making new measurements. Finally, I want to thank my parents, Carolyn and John Schauble, for teaching me that knowledge and love are the two things most worth adding to the world.

Edwin A. Schauble, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles