Geotimes Logo ABOUT PEOPLE July 1997

Nine U.S. scientists have been selected to receive the National Medal of Science, the nation's equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

GEORGE WETHERILL, a planetary scientist with the Carnegie Institution of Washington, was honored for his contributions to measuring astronomical time scales and understanding how earth-like planets may be created in evolving solar systems.

During the 1950s, Wetherill and a team of Carnegie scientists began dating Earth's rocks through geochemical methods using natural radioactive decay. In 1960, he joined the geophysics department at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he applied his radiometric chronology techniques to meteorite and lunar samples. He returned to Carnegie in 1975 and began studying the origin of the terrestrial planets. His work showed how the inner solar system formed, provided the basis for a model of a giant-impact origin for the moon and the core of Mercury, and explained the isotopic abundances of present-day planetary atmospheres.

Wetherill is a former president of the Meteoritical Society, the planetology section of the American Geophysical Union, and the International Association of Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry.

Other 1997 medal winners are: WILLIAM K. ESTES, professor emeritus of psychology, Harvard University; DARLEANE C. HOFFMAN, director, Glenn T. Seaborg Institute for Transactinium Science; HAROLD S. JOHNSTON, professor emeritus of chemistry, University of California at Berkeley; MARSHALL N. ROSENBLUTH, professor and research physicist, University of California at San Diego; MARTIN SCHWARZSCHILD, Higgins Professor of Astronomy Emeritus, Princeton University (awarded posthumously); JAMES D. WATSON, president, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.; ROBERT A. WEINBERG, professor of biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and SHING-TUNG YAU, professor of mathematics, Harvard University.

The 1997 executive committee of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME) include: RICHARD R. KLIMPEL, R.K. Associates, president; IHOR A. KUNASZ, Newmont Uzbekistan Ltd., president-elect; JOHN F. BURST, Triangle Environmental Science and Engineering, Inc., past president; TA M. LI, Centaine Mining Co., vice president for finance; EILEEN ASHWORTH, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, regional vice president; BRUCE CAVENDER, BHP Copper Inc., regional vice president; and DONALD E. RANTA, chairman of mining and exploration.

RANDOLPH W. (BILL) BROMERY was honored at the 1997 African-American History Program co-sponsored by the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council. A former president of the Geological Society of America, Bromery was recognized for his work with the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Massachusetts, Westfield State College, and Springfield College, where he now serves as president. His portrait will be displayed with those of other prominent African-American scientists, engineers, and physicians at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Bromery is the first earth scientist to receive this honor.

PAUL E. HUMMEL became executive director of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) on April 1. His predecessor, DON STODDARD, moved into an emeritus role at that time. Stoddard, who served the society for 16 years --first as associate director for administration and finance and later as executive director -- retired on June 30.


WILLIAM P. LANIER was associate professor of geology in the Department of Earth Science of Emporia State University in Kansas. He joined the faculty there in 1989 after spending four years with the Geology Department of Oberlin College in Ohio.

Lanier was primarily interested in sedimentary processes and the early history of life and had done research on modern tidal flats in France, Paleozoic tidal deposits in Kansas, and Precambrian iron formations, carbonates, and volcaniclastics in South Africa and Ontario. He was a member of both SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology) and the Paleontological Society. April 28, 1997.

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