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 Published by the American Geological Institute
Newsmagazine of the Earth Sciences

 June 2000

The Society Page
News about people and 
announcements from 
AGI's 35 member societies
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AGU awards science journalists

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) honored Alexandra Witze, science writer for the Dallas Morning News, and Richard L. Hill, science reporter for The Oregonian, with the society’s 2000 Excellence in Science Writing awards.

    Alexadra Witze

    Richard L. Hill

Witze won the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Writing for her feature story, “Paradise Submerged,” published Aug. 12, 1999. It describes the Kerguelen Plateau in the southern Indian Ocean. The plateau was dry land some 100 million years ago, but is now, except for a few small islands, completely submerged. Her story is at

Hill is the first winner of AGU’s David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Writing and was honored for his front-page story, “Quake Forecast Shifts to Land,” published May 4, 1999. Hill reported on research showing that western Oregon could be the epicenter of a “colossal” earthquake of magnitude 8 or 9. Previous forecasts were for potentially less damaging quakes occurring about 30 miles offshore. The story is available at:

The Sullivan and Perlman Awards consist of a plaque and two thousand dollars. The Sullivan Award honors its first recipient, Walter Sullivan, science writer for The New York Times, and recognizes stories written under deadlines of more than one week. The David Perlman Award recognizes stories written in one week or less and is named for the science editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and winner of AGU’s 1997 Sustained Achievement Award in Science Journalism.


AAPG award winners

Gerald M. Friedman, distinguished professor of geology at the Brooklyn College City University of New York, heads this year’s list of honor recipients from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Friedman received the 2000 Sidney Powers Memorial Award, AAPG’s highest honor. He and other winners received their awards on April 16 during the AAPG annual meeting in New Orleans.

Recipients of the AAPG Honorary Membership Awards are: A.T. “Toby” Carleton, president of Tocor Exploration in Midland, Texas; Paul A. Catacosinos of Albuquerque, N.M.; AGI past president (1997-1998) Susan M. Landon of Golden, Colo.; AGI past president Charles J. Mankin, director of the Oklahoma Geological Society in Norman, Okla.; and Robert M. Mitchum, president of Robert M. Mitchum Exploration in Houston.

Milling receives Iowa honor

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts honored Marcus Milling, executive director of the American Geological Institute (AGI) as an Alumni Fellow on April 10. Milling earned his doctorate in geology from the university in 1968 before embarking on a career in the petroleum industry. He has since continued his ties with the university and in the early 1990s served as chair of the university’s Geology Alumni Advisory Board.
   Also named Alumni Fellow was James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies and a prominent researcher in global climate change.

New Congressional Science Fellows

    Kathryn Makeig
AGI announced its 2000-2001 Congressional Science Fellow, Kathryn Makeig who will serve for one year as a scientist on Capitol Hill. Makeig will succeed Eileen McLellan, who is serving as fellow through August on the staff of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). A member of the American Institute of Professional Geologists, Makeig is president of Waste Science Inc., an environmental and engineering consulting firm in Rockville, Md.

Makeig will join Geological Society of America Fellow Rachel Sours-Page of Oregon State University and American Geophysical Union Fellow Kristen Cutler of the University of Minnesota as well as 21 other fellows from science and engineering societies. The AGI fellowship is supported by AGI Foundation. For more information on the fellowship visit:

SIPES honors members

John E. Scherer of Midland, Texas, will receive honorary membership to the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists (SIPES), the society’s highest award. He will receive his award July 21 during the SIPES annual meeting in Denver, Colo. In the society’s 37-year history only 12 others have become honorary members. The society will also give SIPES Outstanding Service Awards to James B. Bennett of Houston, Texas, and Lloyd K. Parrish Jr. of Wichita, Kan.

NAS elects new members

The National Academy of Sciences announced on May 2 the election of 60 new members and 15 foreign associates from nine countries in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Newly elected members include:

Rita R. Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va; professor of geophysics Francis A. Dahlen Jr. of the department of geological and geophysical sciences at Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.; William A. Jury, professor of soil physics, department of soil and environmental sciences, University of California, Riverside; James P. Kennett of the department of geological sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara; Robert H. Kraichnan president and principal investigator of Robert H. Kraichnan Inc., Santa Fe, N.M.; Special Research Scientist Walter C. Pitman, III of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, N.Y.; Akkihebal R. Ravishankara, chief, atmospheric chemical kinetics group, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colo.; Past AGU President Sean C. Solomon, director of the department of terrestrial magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C.; Shirley Jeffrey, chief marine research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Hobart, Australia; A.M. Celal Sengor, professor of geology at Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey; and Nicholas J. Shackleton, president of the International Union for Quaternary Research and a professor at the University of Cambridge.

Associate Editor Christina Reed compiles the Society Page. To post news in the Society Page, send e-mail to with the subject heading “Society Page.”
Obituary - Harold L. James

Harold L. James, longtime geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and a former chief geologist, died April 2 in Bellingham, Wash. He was 87. 

James was born June 11, 1912, in Nanaimo, B.C., Canada, to Welsh-born parents. He grew up in Nanaimo and Bellingham. In early years, he worked in lumber mills and as a coal miner in Bellingham. He obtained a bachelor’s in geology from Washington State University in 1938 and a doctorate from Princeton in 1945, where he taught mineralogy.

In 1938, James joined the USGS serving as chief geologist from 1965 to 1971. He formally retired from the survey in 1974, but retained official USGS affiliation as a research geologist until 1996. He served in the USGS Military Geology Branch during WWII, stationed first in Washington, D.C., and then in Hawaii, where he remained until the end of the war. James was a professor of geology at the University of Minnesota form 1961 to 1965.

He made his primary scientific contributions in economic geology, mainly by clarifying the geologic history of older Precambrian strata of northern Michigan. He helped establish the current understanding of the nature and origin of Precambrian iron formations, including their mineralogic evolution from sedimentation through metamorphism and how they originated under environmental conditions different from any that existed in later periods. He also co-authored the accepted geochronologic subdivision of Precambrian time.

In 1962, James received the U.S. Department of the Interior Distinguished Service Award. That year he was also elected to the National Academy of Sciences, where he served as chairman for the Section of Geology from 1969 to 1972. 

James was a council member of the Mineralogical Society of America. He served as a council member for the Geological Society of America and as the associate editor for the GSA Bulletin from 1964 to 1966. James was president of the Society of Economic Geologists from 1971 to 1972. He received the Geological Society of America’s Penrose Medal in 1977 and was chairman of the Subcommission on Precambrian Stratigraphy for the International Union of Geological Sciences from 1976 to 1984. 

At the National Academy of Sciences, he was a member of the U.S. National Committee on Geology; the Commission on Natural Resources; the Board on Mineral and Energy Resources; the Board on Radioactive Waste Management; and the Report Review Committee.

 Obituary provided courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.


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