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Geological Society Awards 2018

1 February 2018

The Geological Society of London is delighted to announce the recipients of our 2018 awards, to be presented at President's Day on 6 June.

The Wollaston Medal, our highest award, is this year presented to Professor Terry Plank, Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. A geochemist and igneous petrologist, Professor Plank has made major contributions to our understanding of magma production during the plate tectonic cycle. 

‘I am deeply indebted to the scientists who nominated me – this is a huge honour for a geologist’ she said on receiving the award. 

‘I was literally born in a rock quarry and collected minerals since age 8 – geology has been with me my entire life. My passion has been to connect rocks, and their chemical and microscopic constituents, to tectonic stirrings. Lately, I have focused on volcanoes, not just as portals to the deep earth and her secrets, but as forceful and fascinating beasts. 

‘The last ten years spent chasing water in magmas and clocking magma rise speeds before eruption have been so much fun, and a pleasure I share with my wonderful students and postdocs.’

The Wollaston Medal is presented to geologists whose research has had a substantial impact on pure or applied aspects of geology. It was first awarded in 1831 to William Smith, whose 1815 geological map of England, Wales and part of Scotland - now regarded as 'the map that changed the world' - was the first of its kind. 

The recipient of this year's Lyell Medal, awarded to geologists whose research has made a significant contribution to 'soft' rock studies, is Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge. Professor Dowdeswell’s research involves the dynamics of large ice masses and their response to climate change, as well as the use of airborne and satellite geophysical techniques in glaciology.

The Murchison Medal, which recognises geologists who have contributed significantly to 'hard' rock studies, is awarded to Professor Janne Blichert-Toft, CNRS Research Director at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France. A geochemist, she specialises in the use of isotopes with applications in understanding planetary mantle-crust evolution, as well as the chemical composition of matter in the Universe. 

The William Smith Medal, for excellence in applied and economic aspects of geology, is awarded to Dr Peter Dolan. An exploration geologist with over 40 years of experience in international exploration and research, Dr Dolan has been instrumental in the founding and success of a number of companies, including IKON Science Ltd and Ophir Energy plc, and is also founder of the City of London Geoscience Forum.   

The awards will be presented by Geological Society President Malcolm Brown at President's Day on 6 June.

The 2018 Geological Society Awards in full: 

  • Wollaston Medal – Prof Terry Plank (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University)
  • Lyell Medal – Prof Julian Dowdeswell (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)
  • Murchison Medal – Prof Janne Blichert-Toft (CNRS and Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon)
  • William Smith Medal – Dr Peter Dolan (Ikon Science Ltd)
  • Prestwich Medal – Prof Jan Zalasiewicz (University of Leicester)
  • Coke Medal – Prof Robert Holdsworth (Durham University)
  • Coke Medal – Mr David Shilston (Atkins)
  • R H Worth Award – Girls into Geoscience (Plymouth University)
  • Bigsby Medal – Prof Simon Poulton (University of Leeds)
  • Aberconway Medal – Dr Charlotte Adams (Durham University)
  • Wollaston Fund – Dr Owen Weller (University of Cambridge)
  • Lyell Fund – Dr Amanda Owen (University of Glasgow) 
  • Murchison Fund – Dr George Cooper (Durham University)
  • William Smith Fund – Dr Hannah Hughes (University of Exeter, Cambourne School of Mines)


1. The Geological Society of London, founded 1807, is a learned and professional body, of over 12,000 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. The 2018 Awards will also include two President’s Awards, which will be announced later in the year. 

3. The Awards will be presented at President’s Day 2018, at Burlington House on 6 June.

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