Category Archives: AWARDS

EGU Alexander von Humboldt Medal 2016 to JEAN W. A. POESEN

The EGU 2016 Alexander von Humboldt Medal is awarded to Jean W. A. Poesen for exceptionally significant work in developing regions in providing superb scientific expertise in managing pressures on land originating from producing food and fuel for growing populations.

From the EGU medals 2016 webpage:

The Alexander von Humboldt Medal awards scientists with exceptional international standing who have performed research in developing regions for the benefit of people and society. Jean Poesen of KU Leuven, Belgium, personifies these criteria superbly. He has dedicated much of his career to capacity building of soil scientists from developing countries. Although his early work addressing the management of nutrient and soil loss from agricultural watersheds focused on erosion on the highly erodible Belgian loess, it soon expanded into many other areas of Europe, Africa and South America. The scientific research work of Poesen in northern Ethiopia, Uganda, Ecuador, Tanzania and elsewhere – carried out with many local young scientists – is unrivalled and has led to many landmark papers. In one widely cited paper published more than a decade ago, he recognised the need to put more emphasis on loss of soil by gullies compared to sheet and rill erosion and formulated an action plan to start this research. His impressive scientific expertise has greatly helped many developing countries to manage the pressure on land and soil to produce food, fuel and fibre for rapidly growing populations. In this context, Poesen pioneered outreach in a cooperative mode, helping to adopt local practice and working jointly with stakeholders on feasible and sustainable solutions. He has truly become a gifted ambassador for translating research results into practice, producing benefits for local communities. The services of Poesen to the scientific community are varied. They include being chief editor of Catena, member of the editorial board of 25 international journals, chairman of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at KU Leuven, organiser and co-organiser of more than 20 international conferences, and initiator of the first symposium on gully erosion. He is a member of the Royal Flemish Belgium Academy for Science and the Arts and the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities. In addition, he has received honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Wolverhampton, UK, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi, Romania, and the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland.”

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EGU Soloviev Medal 2016 to IRASEMA ALCÁNTARA-AYALA

The EGU 2016 Sergey Soloviev Medal is awarded to Irasema Alcántara-Ayala for her outstanding contribution to the basic knowledge of natural hazards, vulnerability and prevention of disasters in developing countries.

From the EGU medals 2016 webpage:

“Irasema Alcántara-Ayala is an outstanding expert in natural hazard and risk assessment, with knowledge spanning from mass movement processes, landslide occurrences and hazards to vulnerability, disaster risks and prevention of disasters. Alcántara-Ayala’s research has consistently been of very high quality. Her paper ‘Geomorphology, natural hazards, vulnerability and prevention of natural disasters in developing countries’ is one of the influential articles in the field, being widely cited and extensively used by the scientific community and decision makers. Her research distinguished itself by the degree to which it combines theoretical and intensive field investigations with state-of-the-art science and technology, such as landslide instrumentation and monitoring, geographic information systems and satellite imagery. What makes Alcántara-Ayala internationally recognised, and one of a few truly unique scholars in this field, is her ability to combine natural science with social science approaches, using, among other things, the analysis of social vulnerability and integrated research methods on disaster risk to help in understanding the generic and specific impact of physical hazards on society. Her efforts have not only improved our understanding of natural hazards from a natural scientific point of view, but also raised social awareness about the importance and the need for implementing disaster risk reduction strategies based on the understanding of root causes. In an era of recognised global environmental change, it is essential that the science of disaster risk is comprehensively understood and undertaken, and this can only be done through interdisciplinary and integrated approaches, such as those represented by Alcántara-Ayala’s research. She has closely collaborated with the National Centre for Disasters Prevention in Mexico, and published several bulletins and reports addressing, among other aspects, natural hazards and the significance of educating and promoting the culture of prevention. She has led a very distinguished career. She got her BSc degree in geography from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), obtained her PhD in geography/geomorphology from King’s College London (UK), and spent her postdoctoral years in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT (USA). In 2000, she was selected as an assistant professor at the Institute of Geography at UNAM, was promoted to full professor a few years later, and appointed as director in 2008, becoming the youngest female director in the institute’s history. Of particular organisational and social significance are her election to, and enthusiastic participation in, leading international organisations, including the International Association of Geomorphologists, International Consortium of Landslides, International Geographical Union, the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk programme co-sponsored by the International Council for Science, the International Social Sciences Council, and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. Alcantara-Ayala’s academic activities in terms of natural hazards and disaster risk reduction are of great significance not only for geosciences, but also for the wellbeing of societies, especially in the developing world.”

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EGU Bagnold Medal 2016 to NIELS HOVIUS

The EGU 2016 Ralph Alger Bagnold Medal is awarded to Niels Hovius for outstanding research in the field of Earth surface science, as well as for being a key figure in European geomorphology and a versatile interdisciplinary scientist.

From the EGU medals 2016 webpage:

“Niels Hovius is one of the leading Earth surface scientists worldwide, an excellent communicator, and a versatile and interdisciplinary Earth scientist. He keeps abreast of an impressive range of research areas, from climate science and river dynamics, to organic carbon transfer and burial, hillslope processes, landslide hazards, seismics methods and sophisticated geochemistry. He is always well informed, able to form his own well-thought-through judgement, and keen (and able) to integrate disparate fields and observations into a coherent picture. This diversity is expressed in his scientific agenda. Hovius set out to compile river sediment delivery, but his real early career accomplishment was the establishment of landslide systematics from painstaking counting size-frequency distributions of landslides in New Zealand and Taiwan. He was then drawn to the very active Taiwan mountain belt, leading to a whole series of groundbreaking projects on bedrock incision and the stochastic nature of sediment transport. In a much-cited paper (Dadson et al, Nature 2003), he also established that erosion rates are high where rapid deformation, high storm frequency and weak substrates coincide, regardless of topographic relief. Hovius and his group authored a series of papers that established how earthquakes trigger landslides, and have become leaders in this research field. Another important contribution was the realisation that mass-wasting processes have the ability to sequester large amounts of carbon from terrestrial biomass in adjacent basins. Work with Bob Hilton has shown that the ensuing CO2 withdrawal potentially equals that by silicate weathering. More recent work deals with deep weathering and associated submarine groundwater discharge, and also with the deployment of broadband seismometers as real-time monitors of sediment flow in steep channels. This list is by no means complete, but demonstrates the diversity of his research. It should be noted that this was achieved with minor resources and a small, but always powerful, research group at Cambridge University. Hovius has had an outstanding group of young students and postdocs, many of whom are now important figures in the geomorphology community. At EGU, Hovius has played a key role in developing a strong and vibrant geomorphology community, promoting EGU outreach activities, and most recently establishing the new EGU open access journal Earth Surface Dynamics as one of its founding editors. These are commendable activities, but central to this nomination are Niels Hovius’ fundamental and outstanding scientific contributions to the field of geomorphology and their impact for global Earth surface processes in general.”

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EGU Bagnold Medal 2015 to HEATHER A. VILES

The EGU 2015 Ralph Alger Bagnold Medal is awarded to Heather A. Viles for establishing the field of biogeomorphology and providing the foundation synthesis of the biological component of geomorphology in a range of climatic environments.

From the EGU medals 2015 webpage:

“Heather Viles has been a key figure in the development of the field of biogeomorphology. Her 1988 volume established the field and provided a synthesis of the biological component of geomorphology in a range of climatic environments. She has led the development of the field of microbial biogeomorphology, setting its research agenda via theoretically advanced papers that both provide a conceptual framework for rock-breakdown systems and define the role of microbial processes therein. This follows her earlier work on the issue of scale in weathering processes that provided the stimulus to redirect the field from a reductionist approach towards one that investigates breakdown processes across the spectrum of scales. Viles is also an outstanding field geomorphologist. She combines detailed field data collection with rigorous analytic techniques that investigate process mechanics across experimental platforms. These data are linked up to larger scale questions in Earth and environmental sciences. She has published important papers that explore the links between ecological and geomorphological systems in disturbance regimes and nonlinear perspectives on slope instability. Her work is set apart by its innovation. She has provided cutting edge, methodological developments for the field. For example, her research group was the first to apply DNA sequencing to rock breakdown. Of particular importance is her pioneering work on the development of non-destructive field techniques in rock-breakdown studies. Her recent experimental work investigating the role of inheritance on rock-breakdown processes on Mars and the weathering processes on asteroids illustrates her highly original approach to challenging research environments. In addition, Heather Viles is an inspirational leader in paving the way for the next generation of geomorphologists. In her work as an individual she builds opportunities for early career scientists to gain important experience.”

CONGRATULATIONS FROM THE IAG COMMUNITY!

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