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