Distinguished professor wins top award from Geological Society

Penn State Distinguished Professor of Geosciences Susan Brantley will receive the 2016 Wollaston Medal from the Geological Society of London in recognition of her research on the interaction of water and rocks.  Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Susan Brantley, director of Penn State’s Earth and Environmental Systems Institute and Distinguished Professor of Geosciences, is the recipient of the 2016 Wollaston Medal.

Brantley will receive the prestigious award at a ceremony Wednesday, June 8, at the Geological Society annual meeting in London.

The Wollaston Medal is the highest award given by the Geological Society of London. It recognizes geologists who have had a significant influence on the field through a substantial body of impactful research.

In awarding Brantley its top prize, the society wrote that her research has contributed to a wide range of fields with a focus on the interaction of water and rocks, and that in this area her work’s “breadth and influence … is virtually unparalleled.”

Brantley’s recent work has focused on the chemical and geological processes that shape and transform the thin layer from the deepest groundwater to the tallest vegetation, also known as the critical zone.

She has been credited with making breakthrough contributions in understanding weathering processes and their interaction with the atmosphere and biological systems and with being a pioneer in the application of many new tools to soil processes. Recently, she has used her expertise to understand water quality issues related to shale gas development in Pennsylvania.

Her research investigating geochemical processes in natural systems has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy and NASA. She is the lead principal investigator of the Susquehanna Shale Hills Observatory, which is located near the University’s Stone Valley Recreation Area and is part of the NSF-supported Critical Zone Observatory network.

Brantley is only the second woman to win the prize in its 185-year history.  

Last Updated June 08, 2016