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Society Awards

Medals, Funds and Prizes

Medals are awarded for significant research contributions to science OR contributions to applied and economic geology OR eminent contributions to any branch of geology OR distinction in the practice of geology (criteria depending on Medal)

Wollaston Medal 60x60

Wollaston Medal

The Wollaston Medal is the highest award of the Geological Society. This medal is given to geoscientists who have had a significant influence by means of a substantial body of excellent research in either or both 'pure' and 'applied' aspects of the science.

It was established by William Hyde Wollaston (1766 - 1828), an eminent figure in British science credited with discoveries across the natural sciences, to promote ‘researches concerning the mineral structure of the Earth’ …‘or of the science of Geology in general’ and to enable the Council of the Geological Society to reward ‘the researches of any individual or individuals, of any country, saving only that no member of the Council … shall be entitled to receive or partake of such aid or reward’.

The first recipient of the Wollaston Medal was William Smith in 1831. The Wollaston medal will be awarded annually or at such other intervals as Council may determine.

The 2017 Wollaston Medal winner is Richard Alley.

Lyell Medal

Lyell Medal

The Lyell Medal is normally given for contributions to ‘soft’ rock studies. It was established under the will and codicil of Sir Charles Lyell (1797 – 1875), the author of Principles of Geology, which popularised the idea of uniformitarianism.

The 2017 Lyell Medal winner is Rosalind Rickaby.

Murchison Medal

Murchison Medal

The Murchison Medal is normally given for contributions to ‘hard' rock studies. It was established under the will of Sir Roderick Impey Murchison (1792-1871), the Scottish geologist who first described the Silurian and Devonian successions in Britain, among other achievements, in a long and distinguished career.

The 2017 Murchison Medal winner is Tim Elliott.

William Smith Medal

William Smith Medal

The William Smith Medal is awarded for contributions to applied or economic aspects of geoscience. It is named after the ‘Father of English Geology’, William Smith (1769 - 1839), maker of the first geological map of Britain and arguably the pioneer of applied geology.

Candidates must have made significant contributions, which will normally be published papers and verifiable achievements in the application of geoscience, although in view of the confidential nature of the work in the case of some candidates, other criteria may be used as the basis of the award.

The 2017 William Smith Medal winner is John Walsh.


The Prestwich Medal

This Medal will be awarded to persons ‘who shall have done well for the advancement of the science of geology’. It was established under the will of Sir Joseph Prestwich (1812 - 1896); however, the bequest was not payable until after the death of Lady Prestwich in 1899.

The Prestwich Medal is not being awarded in 2017.


The Sue Tyler Friedman Medal

This award is for distinguished contributions to History of Geoscience. Established in 1987 by Gerald Friedman (1921 - 2011) and the Northeastern Science Foundation of Troy, New York (an organisation he founded), it is dedicated to his wife Sue Tyler Friedman in acknowledgement of her contributions to History of Geoscience.

The Medal, which is not confined to those with a geoscience background or to Fellows of the Society, will be awarded to an individual of any nationality.

The 2017 Sue Tyler Friedman Medal winner is Mott T Greene.


The Major John Sacheverell A'Deane Coke and Major Edward D'Ewes Fitzgerald Coke Medals

These Awards will be made to geoscientists for their contributions to science, as is the case with the Lyell, Murchison and William Smith Medals, in addition to significant service to geoscience, for example through administrative, organisational or promotional activities resulting in benefits to the community.

The awards may be made to scientists whose training and interests are outside the main fields of geoscience, but whose contributions are of great significance to our science. These two medals are named in honour of Lieutenant Colonel Basil Elmsley Coke’s (1884 - 1970) cousin’s two sons, who both died at the Battle of Arnhem in 1944. John Coke was captured by German forces, then shot while attempting to escape, and his brother Edward was killed shortly afterwards while leading part of the British relief force.

In 1965, Lieutenant Colonel Coke, who was a Fellow of the Society, established an endowment fund for his daughter with the instruction that after her death the Geological Society was to become the beneficiary, which happened in 1982. This bequest led to the establishment of the two medals.

The 2017 Coke Medal winners are Mark Anderson and Ian Fairchild.


The Distinguished Service Award

Some of the greatest achievements in the geosciences are made possible by individuals who give distinguished service in a range of activities and disciplines. Established in 1998, this award recognises an individual who has made significant contributions to geoscience and the geoscience community by virtue of their professional, administrative, organisational or promotional activities.

The 2017 Distinguished Service Award winners are Richard Hinton and Ian Kenyon.


The R. H. Worth Award

The R H Worth Award is conferred in recognition of achievements in outreach, public engagement and/or education carried out by an individual or an institution.

It was established in 1955 under the will of Richard Hansford Worth.

The 2017 R. H. Worth Award winner is Rotunda - the William Smith Museum of Geology.

Bigsby Medal

The Bigsby Medal

Founded by John Jeremiah Bigsby (1792 - 1881), and to be awarded ‘as an acknowledgement of eminent services in any department of Geology, irrespective of the receiver’s country’.

The recipient of the medal must have done no more than 25 years’ full time equivalent research, ‘thus probably not too old for further work, and not too young to have done much’.

The 2017 Bigsby Medal winner is Caroline Lear.


The Aberconway Medal

This Medal will be awarded to geoscientists with no more than 25 years’ full time equivalent experience to recognise distinction in the practice of applied or economic geoscience.

The Aberconway Medal was established by a donation from ECC International Ltd and its chair Charles Melville McLaren (1913 - 2003), 3rd Baron Aberconway.

The Aberconway Medal is not being awarded in 2017.


The Wollaston, Lyell, Murchison and William Smith Funds

These Funds are awarded to early career geoscientists who have made excellent contributions to geoscience research and its application, in the UK and internationally. Recipients must be within ten years (full time equivalent) of the award of their first degree in geoscience or a cognate subject.

The individual Funds are given for contributions in the fields defined by the Society’s Medals of the same name. The Funds are each accompanied by the award of £500.

The 2017 Fund winners are Russell Garwood (Wollaston Fund), Susannah Maidment (Lyell Fund), Sami Mikhail (Murchison Fund) and Richard Walters (William Smith Fund).


The President's Award

Two President's Awards are conferred upon early career geoscientists who are within five years (full time equivalent)* of the award of their first degree in geoscience or a cognate subject, who show significant early promise and are judged to have potential to be future leaders in their fields.

These Awards were instituted in 1980 by Professor Perce Allen and the Awards are made annually at the discretion of the incumbent President. The President’s Awards have a value of £250 each.

The 2017 winners are Martin Hurst and Andrew Smye.

*reduced from ten years for the 2018 awards.