Johns Hopkins geobiologist wins Macelwane Medal

02/16/05

A. Hope Jahren, an associate professor in The Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University, will be awarded the James B. Macelwane Medal on Dec. 7, 2005, at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting in San Francisco.

The American Geophysical Union awards the Macelwane Medal each year to up to three scientists less than 36 years old who have made significant contributions to the geophysical sciences. The prize was established in 1961 and renamed in 1986 to honor James B. Macelwane, who was renowned not only for his contributions to geophysics, but also for his deep interest in nurturing and encouraging young scientists.

Jahren was selected for her research on carbon cycles in the ancient environment. In 2001, she also was awarded the Geological Society of America's Donath Medal, making her one of only four young scientists ever to have received both prestigious medals, and the only woman.

"By far and away, the best thing about the research I do is the fun we have doing it: the incredible places we have traveled to, the amazing people that it has brought into my life, and the sheer volume of laughter we've shared while working. Being awarded the medals on top of it all makes the whole experience too great for words," Jahren said.

David Veblen, a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, praised Jahren's work as particularly deserving of recognition.

"Hope Jahren represents a new generation of earth scientists who work across several disciplines to produce new insights into Earth as an integrated system. She combines soil science, biology, isotope geochemistry, and climatology better than any other young scientist I know. Hope's geological field work has taken her from the tropical rain forest to the high Canadian Arctic, and this Macelwane Medal underscores the importance of combining laboratory studies with keen observations and sampling from the real world."

Jahren said that she will always remember the day that notification of the medal arrived in the mail.

"The first thing I thought when I opened the letter was that some mistake had been made. Then my husband started to hoot and holler, and the baby woke up and cried," she said. "By the time the dog was barking, it was clear to me that something wonderful had happened."

Jahren has been a faculty member at Johns Hopkins since 1999. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1991 and earned her doctorate in soil science in 1996 from the University of California Berkeley.

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