Geophysical Sciences professors earn Macelwane Medal, Nier Prize

Two UChicago geophysical sciences professors have added awards for outstanding young scientists to their resumés.

The American Geophysical Union has named Nicolas Dauphas, associate professor in geophysical sciences, as a 2011 recipient of the James B. Macelwane Medal. The Meteoritical Society also has awarded the 2011 Alfred O. Nier Prize to his colleague Fred Ciesla, assistant professor in geophysical sciences. The Meteoriticial Society is devoted to the study of phenomena such as meteorites, comets and asteroids.

The Macelwane Medal is awarded for significant contributions to the geophysical sciences by outstanding young scientists who are less than 36 years old. The AGU will recognize this year’s five Macelwane medalists Dec. 7 at the organization’s fall meeting in San Francisco.

Dauphas previously had received the Nier Prize (2005), a Packard Foundation Fellowship for Science and Engineering (2007) and the Houtermans Medal (2008) from the European Association for Geochemistry. His research interests include the origins of Earth’s atmosphere and what meteorites reveal about the formation of the planets, asteroids and comets.

Previous recipients of the Macelwane Medal include geophysical sciences professors Lawrence Grossman (1980) and Douglas MacAyeal (1988).

The Nier Prize recognizes outstanding research in meteoritics and closely allied fields by scientists under the age of 35. A pioneer in astrophysical meteoritics, Ciesla has research interests that cross the interdisciplinary boundaries between the meteorite record and the astrophysical environment of the rotating disks of gas that serve as the birthplaces of planetary systems.

Ciesla has researched topics such as how the distribution of water evolves in young planetary systems, and how primitive materials that may have formed near the sun were then transported into deep space to become incorporated into comets.

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