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Geological Society Awards 2019

4 March 2019

Professor Edward StolperThe Geological Society of London is delighted to announce the recipients of our 2019 awards, to be presented at President's Day on 6 June 2019.

The Wollaston Medal, our highest award, is this year presented to Professor Edward Stolper, William E. Leonhard Professor of Geology at Caltech. A leading igneous petrologist, Professor Stolper has studied processes on Earth, Mars and asteroids. He was first to propose that the SNC meteorites originated from Mars, and in a more than 40 year research career has published key papers on the petrogenesis of meteorites, terrestrial basalts, island arc volcanics and Martian rocks.

‘I am surprised and deeply humbled to have been chosen for a recognition received by the likes of Smith, Aggasiz and Darwin’ Professor Stolper said. ‘I also appreciate recognition by the UK geological community because of the particular role that the UK played in my professional development. At the age of 21 I was awarded a Marshall Scholarship to come to the UK for post-graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh.

‘Barely a day goes by without my thinking about or using something I learned at Edinburgh, and the work I did there launched my career.’

To aspiring geologists, Professor Stolper says ‘work on topics you find interesting, but that are not ‘all the rage’…Use approaches that are novel, difficult, or will bring improved precision and accuracy. And finally, do a good job so the work will stand the test of time.’

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 Nick Kusznir, Professor of Geophysics at the University of Liverpool. Professor Kusznir’s research using seismic reflection and gravity inversion has revolutionised our understanding of rift basin geodynamics, rifted continental margins and continental breakup, the least understood part of the Wilson Cycle. 

The Murchison Medal, which recognises geologists who have contributed significantly to 'hard' rock studies, is awarded to Marian Holness, Professor of Petrology at the University of Cambridge. Her research, which focuses on understanding the processes which occur during the melting and solidification of rocks, has delivered fundamental new insights into the rheology of melts and their entrained crystals.

The William Smith Medal, for excellence in applied and economic aspects of geology, is awarded to Frances Wall, Professor of Applied Mineralogy at Cambourne School of Mines. The leading UK scientist in the field of critical metals, she has spent over 25 years researching alkaline rocks and carbonatites and associated ore deposits, particularly deposits of the rare earth elements which are now of vital importance in modern technology.

Professor Wall said “I am deeply honoured to receive the William Smith Medal from the Geological Society. The award is also a testament to the dedication and inventive work carried out by colleagues at the Camborne School of Mines and collaborating national and international partners. Our recent work on responsible supply of raw materials for clean technologies has been an exciting journey combining geology skills with other research disciplines and working with industry partners.

The Dewey Medal, established in 2018, recognises substantial and significant contributions through fieldwork, and is awarded this year to Dr Nigel Woodcock, Emeritus Reader in Geophysics, Geodynamics and Tectonics at the University of Cambridge.

“I regard the pleasure of field work as its own reward” he said, “so I'm surprised and delighted to be awarded the Dewey Medal for contributions to geology through field mapping. I'm particularly pleased that the award recognises the teaching of mapping as well as its use in research. Enthusing students in the field remains central to our subject.”

The awards will be presented by Geological Society President Professor Nick Rogers at President's Day on 6 June 2019.

The 2019 Geological Society Awards in full:

Wollaston Medal: Professor Edward Stolper, Caltech
Lyell Medal: Professor Nicholas Kusznir, University of Liverpool
Murchison Medal: Professor Marian Holness, University of Cambridge
William Smith Medal: Professor Frances Wall, Cambourne School of Mines, University of Exeter
Prestwich Medal: Dr Anthony Barber, Emeritus, University of London
Dewey Medal: Dr Nigel Woodcock, University of Cambridge
Coke Medal: Professor Richard Law, Virginia Tech
Coke Medal: Dr Bramley Murton, National Oceanography Centre
Distinguished Service Award: Mr Colin Day, NERC National Marine Facility, National Oceanography Centre
R H Worth Award: Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre
Bigsby Medal: Professor Emily Rayfield, University of Bristol
Aberconway Medal: Dr Andrea Cozzi, Eni Upstream & Technical Services
Wollaston Fund: Dr Andrew Parsons, University of Oxford
Lyell Fund: Dr Sam Giles, University of Birmingham
Murchison Fund: Dr Jonathan Pownall, Australian National University
William Smith Fund: Dr Brendan McCormick-Kilbride, University of Cambridge


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 2019 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 2019, at Burlington House on 6 June. 

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