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2022 Award Winners announced

25 February 2022

The Geological Society is delighted to announce our 2022 Awards recipients, to be presented on President's Day on 8 June 2022

Tanya AtwaterOur Society’s highest award, the Wollaston Medal, is presented to Professor Tanya Atwater, Professor Emerita at the Department of Earth Science, University of California at Santa Barbara. Professor Atwater, a geophysicist and marine geologist who specialises in plate tectonics, is best known for creating the first magnetic isochron map of the northeast Pacific Ocean and the first late Cenozoic plate reconstructions along the rim of western North America.

The Wollaston Medal was first awarded in 1831 to William Smith, whose 1815 geological map of England, Wales and part of Scotland was the first of its kind. The Medal is presented to geologists whose research has had a substantial impact on pure or applied aspects of geology. Atwater said, “I am pleased and flattered to receive this prestigious award. Thank you for this honour”. Atwater’s work has been transformative to global tectonic theory showing how the fabric of the ocean floor can be used to elucidate the history of geological features on land such as the San Andreas Fault, the Cascadia volcanic arc and the Transverse Range. She said, “I never get over the excitement and fun life I got to lead, being out in the field in the world’s most beautiful places, with such a great collection of passionate international colleagues, and getting to call it ‘work’.”

The Lyell, Murchison and William Smith Medals, equal in status, are very highly regarded by the Society and are awarded for both the breadth, and depth of a recipient’s contributions and achievements.

The Lyell Medal, recognising geologists whose research has made a significant contribution to 'soft' rock studies, is awarded in 2022 to Dr William B. F. Ryan, Special Scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. Dr Ryan said, “It is an honour to receive a medal with Lyell’s name. After notice of the award, I devoured all three volumes of his “Principles of Geology” with the greatest pleasure and immense respect for his pioneering role in the geosciences.”

Dr Ryan, a marine geologist, has provided pivotal insights to marine geology; one of most note is his documentation of the Miocene desiccation of the Mediterranean Sea. He has also highly regarded for his valuable contribution to the geoscience community through his work on the development of user-friendly marine geological and geophysical data bases, the web-based GeoMapApp and the mobile-based Polar Explorer: Sea-level app.

The Murchison Medal, awarded to geologists who have contributed significantly to 'hard' rock studies, is presented to Professor Michael Bickle, University of Cambridge. Professor Bickle’s research focuses on the evolution of Earth combining field-based, petrological and geochemical research projects with physical modelling to better understand the processes controlling global evolution. His research has made significant contribution to the understanding of the thermal evolution of mountain belts, tectonics in the Archaean, mantle melting, controls on silicate weathering, and geological storage of carbon-dioxide.

Dr Rod Graham, Imperial College London is awarded the William Smith Medal 2022, for excellence in applied and economic aspects of geology. During more than 35 years in industry, Dr Graham has explored a significant proportion of the Earth’s sedimentary basins with a methodical use of stratigraphy and structural geology. He has trained and continues to train generations of company geoscientists in basin evolution emphasising the fundamental importance of fieldwork in appreciating basin geology. Dr Graham said, “I have been very fortunate through my career to have been able to be involved in both the oil and gas industry and academic research. Each has presented different challenges and opportunities, and both have given me huge enjoyment. The Geological Society, as the place where knowledge from both areas is combined, has been important throughout it all. I am grateful and honoured to have been awarded the William Smith Medal".

The President of the Geological Society, Professor Michael Daly will present the awards at President's Day on 8 June 2022.

The Geological Society 2022 Awards in full:

Wollaston Medal
  Prof Tanya Atwater, University of California, Santa Barbara
Lyell Medal
  Dr William B. F. Ryan, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
Murchison Medal
  Prof Michael Bickle, University of Cambridge
William Smith Medal
  Dr Rod Graham, Imperial College London
Sue Tyler Friedman Medal
  Emeritus Professor John Mather, Royal Holloway, University of London
Dewey Medal
  Prof Clare Warren, The Open University
Coke Medal
  Dr Natasha Dowey, Sheffield Hallam University
Coke Medal
  Dr Alison Monaghan, British Geological Survey
Distinguished Service Award
  Ian Thomas, National Stone Centre
RH Worth Award
  North Sea Core CIC
Bigsby Medal
  Dr Catherine Annen, The Institute of Geophysics of Czech Academy of Sciences
Wollaston Fund
  Dr Anna Joy Drury, University College London
Lyell Fund
  Dr Daniel Collins, Shell International Ltd
Murchison Fund
  Dr Simon Matthews, University of Iceland
William Smith Fund
  Dr Fred Richards, Imperial College London
President’s Award
  Dr Anna Bidgood, iCRAG - University College Dublin
President’s Award
  James Preston, Shell UK Limited


1. The Geological Society of London, founded 1807, is a learned and professional body, of c. 11,500 Earth scientists with a remit to investigate, interpret, discuss, inform and advise on the nature and processes of the Earth, their practical importance to humanity, and, in the interests of the public, to promote professional excellence. The Society offers advice to Parliament and Government, at individual and corporate levels. Registered Charity No. 210161.

2. There will be a virtual presentation of the Society Awards on President’s Day on 8 June 2022.

3. Lists of all previous recipients of the Society’s awards may be accessed here.