The awards are open to all students at any degree level in a field related to planetary geosciences, regardless of location of residency or educational institution. Recent graduates, pre-college students, and postdoctoral fellows are not eligible. Students who have previously won a "best presentation" award as a graduate student are not eligible to compete again in either category. Students who have won a "best presentation" award as an undergraduate are not eligible to compete again in either category as an undergraduate but are eligible to compete in either category as a graduate student. Students who have won honorable mention award(s) as either a graduate or undergraduate student in either category are eligible to compete again.
Only one abstract per student will be considered for a "best presentation" award in each year. The student must be the senior author of the abstract, and a minimum of 50% of the material in the abstract must not have been previously presented at another meeting. Judging will be based on both the written abstract and the presentation.
A good presentation should leave any observer with a clear understanding of a stated problem, how the student attempted to answer it, what data or observations were gathered, and the interpretations and conclusions that resulted. Dwornik applicants should be prepared to answer follow up questions about the nature of their work during their oral and poster presentations, as this is a significant element in the judging processes. As such, it is also critical that applicants plan to be at their poster during the session to allow judges to evaluate the in-person presentation.
To apply for the award, students MUST complete the Dwornik application form.
Applicants should complete the form electronically, then e-mail the completed form to LPI at email@example.com.
For LPSC 2024, the Dwornik application form is due on January 10, 2024, one day after the LPSC 2024 abstract deadline which is January 9, 2024. The form must include the LPI abstract (confirmation) number of the submitted abstract for which the student will be judged for the award.
For information regarding judging of presentations, see a list of Scoring Criteria.
Winners will be notified approximately one month after LPSC. They will be announced at the annual Planetary Geology Division business meeting at that year's Geological Society of America; and they will be introduced and awarded their prizes at the following years' LPSC. A cash award of $500 and a plaque will be presented to the graduate student best oral presentation and the graduate student best poster presentation. A cash award of $250 and a plaque will be presented to the undergraduate student best oral presentation and the undergraduate student best poster presentation. Plaques will be presented to honorable mention winner(s) in each category. If the judges conclude that there is not a deserving presentation in a given category, there will not be an award given in that category.
The winners of the previous year's Dwornik competition will be honored in the current year's LPSC Monday afternoon plenary session.
Photo courtesy of Jim Zimbelman, 2010
Stephen E. Dwornik worked for NASA's Lunar and Planetary Programs Division of the Office of Space Science and Applications from 1965 to 1967. In 1968, he became Chief of Planetology in the Planetary Programs Division of the Office of Space Science, a position he held until 1976, when he served as Chief of Planetary Geology in the same division and office until 1979. At NASA, he was one of the first to recognize that the precision engineered spacecraft that were being launched to the planets were nothing more than engineering experiements without scientific analysis of the returned data. That became his job—to find the best scientists to interpret the data returned from these missions and ultimately to understand the geologic development of the planets.
As Chief of Planetology and then Chief of Planetary Geology, he organized and managed a research program that lasted more than a dozen years, ensuring that NASA grants would be given to investigators who were doing interesting planetary research. The annual PGPI (Planetary Geology Principal Investigators) meeting that he organized became an early proving and training ground for planetary geology researchers and their students. His career spanned the time period from Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo to Mariner, Viking, and Voyager. Those who started with his monetary support are now the leading figures and founding members of the field of planetary geoscience, and graduate students whose work was funded by these grants became the second generation of planetary geoscientists.
After retiring from NASA, he worked for Ball Aerospace for a number of years, and then spent a decade organizing an annual space exploration-related elderhostel in association with William and Mary College. Dwornik was a son of Polish and Ukrainian immigrants, served during World War II, and felt a great debt of gratitude to the U.S. As such, he was interested in encouraging more U.S. students to enter the field of planetary science. In the 1970s very few U.S. students were studying planetary science, and Dwornik was concerned. In 1991, he made an endowment to the Geological Society of America specifically to award U.S. students in planetary geoscience. The awards are managed by the Planetary Geology Division of the Geological Society of America; and have been broadened by the PGD to include all aspects of planetary science submitted to the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.
Steve Dwornik and his wife currently live in the Washington D.C. area.
Note: This short biography was compiled by Jayne Aubele from informal notes supplied by Ted Maxwell, Smithsonian Institution, Joseph Boyce, University of Hawaii, and NASA’s Historical Archives.
Initially, in 1991, the Planetary Geology Division presented awards for best oral presentation at both the LPSC and GSA annual meetings. Beginning in 1992 awards were given only for best oral presentation at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference and honorable mention citations were first awarded. Awards for poster presentations at LPSC were initiated by the Planetary Geology Division in 1993. After realizing that an increasing number of undergraduate students were applying for the award, the Planetary Geology Division began separate award categories for Best Graduate and Best Undergraduate oral and poster presentations in 2009. The Dwornik Awards have become the preeminent award for U.S. graduate and undergraduate students in planetary science.