Slingerland Receives 2012 G. K. Gilbert Award

Rudy L. Slingerland received the 2012 G. K. Gilbert Award at the 2012 AGU Fall Meeting, held 3–7 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.”


SlingerlandIt is a tremendous pleasure to see the 2012 G. K. Gilbert Award presented to Professor Rudy Slingerland, of Penn State University. Rudy has been serving the Earth sciences for more than 3 decades. He has done so through his own research contributions; through research that he has inspired in his students, postdocs, and colleagues; and through his many efforts on behalf of the larger community. These include dedication to organizations like the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System, for which he ably chaired the steering committee during its critical first 5 years.

In terms of his own scientific contributions, the list of scientific topics that have drawn Rudy’s curiosity is quite impressive. To stratigraphers and sedimentologists, he is known as a founder, practitioner, and life-long champion for quantitative dynamic stratigraphy. He is known among paleoceanographers for having pioneered the computational study of circulation patterns in ancient epeiric seaways. Tectonicists may know Rudy best for his work on ancient and modern fold-and-thrust belts. Geomorphologists, on the other hand, are most attuned to his work on landscape evolution and river dynamics. It is noteworthy, for example, that his work with Scott Snow on modeling river profile evolution, beginning in the late 1980s, helped to set the stage for the recent surge of interest in that topic.

Across this diverse body of work, Rudy’s contributions have always been notable for their insistence on posing clear, precise, and carefully phrased questions—questions that cut through the seeming complexity of the natural world. In a similar way, this award’s namesake was renowned for his ability to see through the richness of the natural landscape and recognize the underlying core principles at work. Thus, it is fitting that Rudy should be recognized with an award named in Gilbert’s honor.

—GREGORY E. TUCKER, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder


I’m deeply honored to receive the Earth and Planetary Surface Processes G. K. Gilbert Award, in no small part because Gilbert’s application of simple physical principles to Earth surface processes has always been an inspiration to me. My desire to study the transportation of debris by running water started a long time ago on our family farm, where re-engineering the local stream with a backhoe was a rewarding afternoon activity.

After a Geology B.Sc. degree and 2 years in the U.S. Navy Seabees, I knew that I wanted to study with Professor Gene Williams, an intense sedimentary geologist on the graduate faculty at Penn State. His philosophical and quantitative style influenced me more than he can ever know. Five years later and armed with a fresh Ph.D., I was hired by the Department of Geosciences at Penn State to replace Gene. During the next 36 years, I never saw a job that looked better.

I know that I am accepting this award on behalf of all of my students and colleagues with whom I have worked. To all of you I give my heartfelt thanks for good times in the field, good scientific discussions, and the chance to participate with you in such a noble enterprise as geology.

—RUDY L. SLINGERLAND, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park