July 1999


The National Science Board presented its 1999 awards during a May 5 ceremony at the U.S. Department of State. MAXINE FRANK SINGER, president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, received the Vannevar Bush Award. CHAITAN S. KHOSLA, an associate professor in Stanford University’s Department of Chemical Engineering, received the Alan T. Waterman Award. The second-annual Public Service Award went to STEPHEN J. GOULD, curator of Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, and to the television series “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”

DON L. ANDERSON, a professor of geophysics at the California Institute of Technology, received the 1998 National Medal of Science during an April 26, 1999, awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Anderson also received the 1998 Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He has been a leader in research of the deep Earth since the 1960s and has also received the Emil Wiechert Medal of the German Geophysical Society; the Arthur L. Day Medal of the Geological Society of America; and the American Geophysical Union’s William Bowie Medal.

The National Academy of Sciences named its new members and foreign associates April 27 during the academy’s 136th annual meeting. Geoscientists included MARGARET G. KIVELSON, professor of earth and space sciences and professor of geophysics and space physics, Institute of Geophysical and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles; TOM L. PHILLIPS, professor of plant biology and professor of geology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; KERRY E. SIEH, professor of geological sciences, California Institute of Technology;
NORMAN H. SLEEP, professor of geophysics, Stanford University; DAVID WALKER, professor of geological sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University; and ALBRECHT W. HOFMANN, director, geochemistry division, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany.

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) awarded its 1999 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism to DAVID SINGTON, writer and producer of the television series “Earth Story.” The Sullivan Award recognizes reporting that makes geophysical science accessible and interesting to the public. AGU presented the award during its annual spring meeting, held June 1-4 in Boston.
   “Earth Story,” produced by British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) and The Learning Channel (TLC), was aired last year on BBC-2 in the United Kingdom and on TLC in the United States. This year, it will air in Europe, South Africa, and Australia. Filmed around the world over 30 months, the series focuses on exploration of the fundamental processes shaping Earth and how those processes interact.
   Sington, who graduated from Trinity College in Cambridge in 1981, has been producing science programs for radio and television since 1983.

The Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration Inc. (SME) announced in April that its members elected TA M. LI to serve as SME’s 2001 president. Li is a mining engineer with more than 32 years’ experience in the minerals business. Currently, he is marketing manager for the Denver Mining Group of Morrison Knudsen Corp. He has also served on several SME committees and is currently vice president-finance. Li is an authority on global mineral activities.

The 1999-2000 officers for the Seismological Society of America are President TERRY C. WALLACE JR., University of Arizona; Vice-President GAIL M. ATKINSON, Arnprior, Ontario, Canada; Treasurer DAVID VON SEGGERN, University of Nevada-Reno; and Secretary JOE J. LITEHISER JR., Bechtel Corp., San Francisco. Directors include NORMAN ABRAHAMSON, Piedmont, Calf.; CHUCK AMMON, St. Louis University; VERNON F. CORMIER, University of Connecticut; RUTH A. HARRIS, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Menlo Park, Calif.; SUSAN E. HOUGH, USGS, Pasadena, Calf.; STEPHEN D. MALONE, University of Washington; DAVID P. SCHWARTZ, USGS, Menlo Park; PAUL G. SILVER, Carnegie Institution of Washington; PAUL G. SOMERVILLE, URSGWC Federal Services, Pasadena, Calif.; PAUL SPUDICH, USGS, Menlo Park; GERARDO SUAREZ, International Monitoring System, Vienna, Austria.


Paleontologist J. JOHN SEPKOSKI JR., who taught at the University of Chicago, died May 1 of sudden heart failure. He was 50 years old.
   Sepkoski contributed to scientific understanding of the fossil record and the diversification of animal life through Earth’s history. One of his major contributions was to quantify the nature of life’s diversity through time, says Douglas Erwin, a research paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution and editor of the journal Paleobiology. Sepkoski’s work is discussed in the recently published book Mystery of Mysteries: Is Evolution a Social Construction?, by Michael Ruse.
   During the 1980s, Sepkoski and colleague David Raup used statistical analyses to suggest that catastrophic extinctions of marine animals may have occurred approximately every 26 million years over the last 250 million years. They suggested that the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago was part of that cycle. The controversial theory has helped researchers consider the possibility that mass extinctions have been caused by forces external to Earth.
   Sepkoski was born July 26, 1948, in Presque Isle, Maine. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1970 and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1977. He taught at the University of Rochester from 1974 until he joined the University of Chicago in 1978. He became a professor in 1986. He was also a research associate at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. In 1983, he received the Charles Schuchert Award from the Paleontological Society. He was also the society’s 1995-96 president and co-editor of Paleobiology.

FRANCIS J. PETTIJOHN, a former professor and chair of geology at The Johns Hopkins University, died April 23 in Glen Arm, Md. He was 94.
   Pettijohn was a leader in the field of sedimentology. He authored and coauthored several books, including Sedimentary Rocks, Atlas and Glossary of Primary Sedimentary Structures, and his autobiography, Memoirs of an Unrepentant Field Geologist. Pettijohn taught at Johns Hopkins from 1952 to 1973. He was department chairman from 1963 to 1968.
“Francis J. Pettijohn shaped the teaching of sedimentary rocks in the United States and much of the world with his textbook, Sedimentary Rocks. … It became the bible of sedimentary geology,” says Earle McBride, chair of the department of geological sciences at the University of Texas-Austin. “He was one of the leaders in illustrating the value and use of sedimentary structures in making interpretations of processes of deposition and environments of deposition. … He wrote for the masses.”

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