The award is presented to a person, organization, or institution in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the public understanding of the geosciences. The contribution may be in geoscience as a science or in geoscience as it relates to economic or environmental aspects of modern civilization. The award may be given to a geoscientist or non-geoscientist, or to an organization or an institution that is based in the geosciences or not. The award name was changed from the "AGI Award For Outstanding Contribution To Public Understanding of Geology" in 1999.

Deadline: February 1, 2024


Selection Procedure

The Nominating Committee of the AGI Member Society Council will solicit nominations from its member societies and submit its selection to the Member Society Council at the spring meeting each year. The Member Society Council recommendation will then be transmitted to the AGI Board of Directors for final action.

Nomination Procedure

Description of the Award

The award will be in the nature of an attractive scroll to include a citation of the specific contribution(s) which served as the basis of the award.


The scroll will be presented by the President of the American Geosciences Institute or his/her representative at a function to provide the appropriate level of attention to the geoscience profession and the public at large. Details for presentation of the award, including the time of year and the place, will be at the discretion of the AGI Executive Committee.

This award is given for a contribution or contributions that lead to greater public appreciation and better understanding of the role of the geosciences in the affairs of our society.


This award normally will be given to one recipient per year.

For consideration for the 2024 Award, please submit materials by February 1, 2024. Submissions received after this date will be saved for later consideration.

Past Recipients

  • 1985 British Broadcasting Corporation for the television series The Making of a Continent

  • 1986 Stephen J. Gould and the Planet Earth television series (8 separate awards)

  • 1987 Robert Ferguson Legget and John McPhee

  • 1988 Robert E. Boyer

  • 1989 Robert L. Bates and Bruce B. Hanshaw

  • 1990 Robert D. Ballard for host activities for television science programs

  • 1991 U.S. Geological Survey for reporting and distributing natural hazards information

  • 1992 U.S. Geological Survey and Association of American State Geologists for National Geologic Mapping Act

  • 1993 Orrin H. Pilkey, Jr. and co-editor William J. Neal for book series, Living with the Shore, and John S. Shelton for capturing geological processes on film.

  • 1994 Fred A. Donath and E-an Zen

  • 1995 John R. Horner for work as paleontologist, teacher, author and museum curator and Richard Kerr, for work as editor of Science.

  • 1996 Albert (Brad) Washburn as founder and supporter of Boston Museum of Science

  • 1997 Sandra Glass for for her work with the earth science community over the years

  • 1998 M. Dane “Duke” Picard for his writings for lay persons and professionals

  • 1999 Esther and Sherwood Tuttle and Ann Harris for their National Parks work


  • 2001 John Noble Wilford for science correspondent contributions

  • 2002 Frank H. T. Rhodes for work as teacher, researcher, and administrator

  • 2003 Ron Redfern for written contributions on Earth evolution

  • 2004 Warren D. Allmon for Paleontological Research Institution renovation work

  • 2005 Michael Collier for geoscience writing and photography that engage the public

  • 2006 Joanne Kluessendorf who implemented the Wisconsin Weis Earth Science Museum

  • 2007 Simon Winchester for his three best-selling factual books on geological topics

  • 2008 Susan Solomon for work on climate change and ozone “hole”

  • 2009 Richard Alley for work using ice cores to demonstrate abrupt climate change.

  • 2010 ExxonMobil for support of science education programs


  • 2012 Thomas H. Jordan for international work on earthquakes and their hazards

  • 2013 Scott W. Tinker as Texas State Geologist, global future talks, and film Switch.

  • 2014 David R. Wunsch for work expanding New Hampshire Geological Survey outreach

  • 2015 Scott F. Burns for teaching and Pacific Northwest geologic media support

  • 2016 Mark D. Zoback for contributions to rock physics and geomechanics

  • 2017 Iain S. Stewart for communicating geoscience via YouTube and BBC TV series

  • 2018 David Applegate for his U.S. Geological Survey and earlier work to communicate Earth science


  • 2020 Peter Folger for his work at the Congressional Research Service