April 1999


Three international astronomers have received 1999 Gene Shoemaker Near Earth Object grants from the Planetary Society: PAULO HOLVORCEM of the Universidade Estadual de Campinas in Brazil, STEFAN GAJDOS of the Institute of Astronomy in Bratislava in the Slovak Republic, and FRANK ZOLTOWSKI, an amateur astronomer in Woomera, Australia. The grants, totaling $27,000, help international and amateur observers track asteroids and comets that have earth-crossing orbits. The Planetary Society, located in Pasadena, Calif., was founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman to advance solar system exploration and continue the search for extraterrestrial life.

ROBERT W. JONES, senior editor of Rock and Gem Magazine, received the 1998 Carnegie Mineralogical Award on Feb. 13, at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. A graduate of New Haven Teachers College, Jones taught for more than 37 years and twice received the Teacher of the Year Award in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was named Educator of the Year in 1984. Jones has served as scriptwriter and host of television programs and videos about gems and minerals. In 1991, he was elected to the Rockhound Hall of Fame. He is a former trustee and research associate at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.
     The Carnegie Museum of Natural History established the award in 1987 to recognize preservation, conservation, and education ideals. The award includes a $2,500 cash prize and is supported by the Hillman Foundation Inc.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) gave awards for outstanding contributions to science to 17 individuals in January. Four of the recipients were awarded for work in the earth sciences: ARTHUR J. HUNDHAUSEN, senior scientist emeritus at the High Altitude Observatory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., received the $20,000 Arctowski Medal for his research in solar and solar-wind physics; SEAN C. SOLOMON, director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, received the $20,000 Arthur L. Day Prize  for using seismological data to constrain the tectonics of Earth’s lithosphere and for developing global tectonic models of the moon and terrestrial planets; AKKIHEBAL R. RAVISHANKARA, chief of the atmospheric and chemical kinetics group for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo., received the $7,500 Robertson Memorial Lecture prize for making fundamental contributions to quantifying atmospheric chemical processes; and JAN SMIT, professor of sedimentary geology at the Free University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, received the $7,500 Mary Clark Thompson Medal for establishing the sequence of impact-generated events that occurred 65 million years ago.

In January, President Clinton nominated ROBERT GEE as the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy. Gee, of Austin, Texas, is currently the DOE’s Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs. He will replace Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Robert S. Kripowicz, who has been serving in an acting capacity since August 1998.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in January honored three U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists as AAAS Fellows: GLADYS COTTER, Assistant Chief Biologist for Information in the USGS Biological Resource Division, was recognized for her work in information management and communication; CHARLES VAN RIPER II, station leader of the Colorado Plateau Field Station in Flagstaff, Ariz., was honored for research in the biological sciences; and HENRY J. MOORE II, was honored posthumously for his geologic and geographic research. Moore was involved in selecting the landing site for the Mars Pathfinder. He died suddenly in September 1998, three days after being elected a Fellow of AAAS.

CHRISTINE HANSEN, executive director of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission since 1993, will serve the National Petroleum Council on a new committee on natural gas. The committee was formed at the request of U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson.

A geographical feature in Antarctica was recently named Noxon Cliff for JOHN F. NOXON, a researcher who contributed to the understanding of stratospheric nitrogen dioxide and the depletion of the ozone layer before he died in 1985. A member of the American Geophysical Union, Noxon was an international leader in the study of atmospheric chemistry and aeronomy.

Two earth-science researchers received James S. McDonnell Centennial Fellowships ($1 million each) in January. MERCEDES PASCUAL, of the Center for Marine Biotechnology at the University of Maryland, was awarded for her work using mathematical models for predicting the dynamics of ecological systems. STEFAN RAHMSTORF, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, will combine an atmospheric model developed by his institute with an ocean model, creating a coupled climate model emphasizing ocean circulation. The fellowships, given to 10 young researchers, mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of James S. McDonnell, whose company became McDonnell Douglas Corp. and who established the McDonnell Foundation in 1950. For more details, visit the Web at <> and go to “Centennial Fellowship Awards Announced.”

The Department of Commerce in January named two new directors within the National Weather Service (NWS). VICKIE L. NADOLSKI will direct the Western Region Headquarters in Salt Lake City, and LOUIS W. UCCELLINI will direct the National Centers for Environmental Prediction in Camp Springs, Md. Nadolski joined the National Weather Service in 1975, serving in a variety of meteorology and technical positions and as program manager of the Automated Surface Observing System. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics at the University of Georgia. Uccellini has been the weather service’s director of meteorology since 1994. He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Uccellini worked as a research meteorologist with Goddard Space Flight Center from 1978 to 1989, and joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as chief of the Meteorological Operations Division in 1989.

The Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists (SIPES) installed new officers during its annual meeting on March 10-13, in Wichita, Kan. They are: President MARK K. MOSLEY,
Austin, Texas; Vice-President VICTOR L. COOPER, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Vice-President of Natural Resources A.T. (TOBY) CARLETON JR., Midland, Texas; Secretary SCOTT A. WAINWRIGHT, New Orleans, La.; and Treasurer GEORGE F. WILLIS, Dallas, Texas.
     JAMES A. GIBBS, Dallas, Texas, received an honorary membership, the society’s highest award.

GLENN E. CUNNINGHAM, formerly the manager of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), has been named deputy director of JPL’s Mars Exploration Directorate. RICHARD COOK, who served as flight operations manager for the 1997 Mars Pathfinder and rover missions, is now manager of JPL.

In February, the Association of American Publishers awarded its prize for the best professional and scholarly book of 1998 in physics and astronomy to New Perspectives on the Earth’s Magnetotail, published by the AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION (AGU). The book’s editors were Atsuhiro Nishida of the Institute of Space and Astronomical Science, Kanagawa, Japan; Daniel N. Baker of the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.; and Stanley W.H. Cowley of the University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom. The book, part of AGU’s Geophysical Monograph Series, reveals many of the basic properties of plasma filling the universe and solar system, providing a basis for understanding cosmic processes.


Norman H. Foster, a trustee for three years with the American Geological Institute Foundation, passed away on Jan. 1, 1999, after a long battle with cancer. He was 64.

Foster worked as an independent petroleum geologist in Denver and was very active in the geoscience community. He served as president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) in 1988-1989. AAPG granted him the 1999 Sidney Powers Memorial Medal, its highest award. AAPG also honored Foster with its 1980 Levorsen Award, two Certificate of Merit awards in 1987 and 1992, a Distinguished Service Award in 1985, a Special Award in 1991 for his work on the Treatise on Petroleum Geology, and Honorary Membership in 1993.

After earning a bachelor’s degree (1957) and master’s degree (1960) in geology from the University of Iowa, Foster earned his Ph.D. in geology in 1963 from the University of Kansas. Foster started his career in exploration geology with Sinclair Oil Corp. in Casper, Wyo., in 1962. When Sinclair merged with ARCO in 1969, Foster joined the Trend Exploration Ltd. team. He identified geomorphic anomalies related to compaction structures, providing the key to locating seismic lines that led to the discovery of oil-bearing Miocene reefs in Indonesia. He became an independent geologist in 1979, prospecting in the United States and abroad.

“Norm had many friends in and out of the foundation who will miss him deeply,” says Jan F. van Sant, executive director of the AGI Foundation.

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