Early Geological Career Award

The MGPV Early Geological Career Award will go to an individual near the beginning of his or her professional career who has made distinguished contributions in one or more of the following fields of research: mineralogy, geochemistry, petrology, and/or volcanology, with emphasis on multidisciplinary, field-based contributions.
Nominations are restricted to those who are within eight years of receiving their final degree. For example, awards decided before 31 Dec. 2024 will include all candidates whose final degree was awarded no earlier than 1 Jan. 2017. Extensions of up to two years will be made for nominees who have taken career breaks for family reasons or caused by serious illness.

Nominees need not be citizens or residents of the United States, and membership in the Geological Society of America or the Division is not required.  Awards are not given posthumously unless the decision to give the award is made before the death of the awardee.

This award  was generously endowed by the estate of James B. Thompson Jr., who believed in the importance to geology of understanding minerals - both their internal characteristics, and their external "social lives" (his term for their relations with each other).  
Thus this award emphasizes a geologic and multidisciplinary approach. Geologic work is by nature generalistic and has an important field component, with Earth as the natural laboratory.  J. B. Thompson’s work, regardless of subject, was always based on solid field observations.  In his acceptance speech for the Day Medal in 1964 he said, “True success in the laboratory should stimulate field investigations rather than discourage them.  It would be embarrassing indeed if we were to construct an internally consistent geology, chemically and physically sound, perfect in fact but for one flaw: the lack of a planet to fit it.

Jim Thompson always exemplified scientific integrity, modesty, and consideration for others.  Although he made significant contributions to each student’s thesis, when the work was complete he generously stepped back quietly, allowing the student the sole credit.  As he remarked in his acceptance of the Roebling Medal, “There is no better stimulus to the sharpening and honing of an idea than that provided by an able student who wishes to share it.  In this I have been blessed.”  This Early Geological Career Award is fitting.

Dr. Thompson retired as the Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology at Harvard in 1992 after a career of more than forty years. He was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1958, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1967.  He was awarded the Arthur L. Day Medal of the Geological Society of America in 1964, the Mineralogical Society of America Roebling Medal in 1978, and the V. M. Goldschmidt Award of the Geochemical Society in 1985. Thompson served as the President of both the Mineralogical Society of America and the Geochemical Society.


Nominations Deadline for the 2025 Award: midnight (EDT) 31 March 2024 [instructions]

A nomination comprises: (1) a cover letter from an MGPV Division member, no longer than three pages, summarizing the nominee’s most important accomplishments in geologic approaches to mineralogy, geochemistry, petrology, and/or volcanology. Special attention should be paid to describing how the nominee’s published work demonstrates field-based multidisciplinary geologic accomplishments of a ground-breaking nature. The letter should include the name, address, and contact information of nominator as well as from whom letters of support can be expected; (2) a curriculum vitae of the nominee; and (3) three letters of support that can be either from members or non-members of GSA or the MGPV Division.  

Previous Awardees:

  • 2024 - Chris Yakymchuk, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON Canada (citation and acceptance)
  • 2023 - Carolina Muñoz-Saez, Nevada Bureau of Mine and Geology and University of Nevada Reno (citation and acceptance)
  • 2022 - Hannah R. Dietterich, US Geological Survey Alaska Volcano Observatory, Anchorage  AK, USA (citation and acceptance)
  • 2021 - Xiao-Ming Liu, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill NC, USA (citation and acceptance)
  • 2020 - Sebastien Biass, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • 2019 - Christy B. Till, Arizona State University, Tempe AZ, USA (citation and acceptance)
  • 2018 - Christopher W. Hamilton, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA (citation)
  • 2017 - Thomas Shea, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA (citation)
  • 2016 - John M. Cottle, University of California-Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, USA (citation and acceptance)
  • 2015 - Frances Elaine Jenner, The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom (citation and acceptance)