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Geological Society Awards 2023 Winners

3 March 2023

The Geological Society is thrilled to announce its 2023 Awards recipients with the formal award presentation to take place at Burlington House on 14 June 2023 on President's Day.

Kathy WhalerProfessor Kathy Whaler, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh is awarded the Society’s highest award, the Wollaston Medal. This medal is given to geoscientists who have had a significant influence by means of a substantial body of excellent research in either or both 'pure' and 'applied' aspects of the science and was first awarded in 1831 to William Smith often referred to as the 'Father of English Geology'. Whaler said it was “an honour (she would be) absolutely delighted to accept”.

Professor Whaler’s early research in mathematical geophysics led to fundamental advances in the understanding of fluid flow in the Earth's core. Since the 1980s, she has had wide-ranging collaborations with geophysicists and geologists on magma migration in active continental rift settings and core surface flows and recently co-led the ‘Rift Volcanism: Past, Present and Future’ NERC-funded Large Grant.

In addition to her significant scientific contributions, Professor Whaler is renowned for her service to geophysics and Earth sciences including serving as President of the Royal Astronomical Society and International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, Vice President and then as President of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysicists (IUGG). Testament to her extensive services to science she has received many awards and tributes including the Asteroid 5914 being named in her honour in 2006, the Royal Astronomical Society’s Price Medal in 2013 and the award of an OBE in 2018.

Held in highest regard by the Society and equal in status, the Lyell, Murchison and William Smith Medals are awarded for both the breadth and depth of a recipient’s contributions and achievements.

The Lyell Medal recognises geologists whose research has made a significant contribution to 'soft' rock studies and is awarded this year to Professor Peter Clift, currently the Charles T. McCord Professor of Petroleum Geology at Louisiana State University. Professor Clift, marine geologist and geophysicist is an outstanding ambassador for UK geoscience both for his fundamental research contributions and his publications: he has over 280 peer-reviewed papers and over 21,800 citations. Professor Clift is held in high regard for the breadth of his research, his international leadership in developing and leading community and ship-based research by International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and for his contribution to both undergraduate and post-graduate teaching as well as his outreach initiatives.

The Murchison Medal is awarded to geologists who have contributed significantly to 'hard' rock studies. The 2023 Murchison Medal is awarded to Dr Mathilde Cannat, Senior CNRS Researcher at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris. Dr Cannat is best known for recognising in the 1990s that the ocean floor at slow-spreading mid-Ocean ridges was fundamentally different to the classic tripartite layering of ocean crust formed at fast spreading ridges completely altering the direction of this field of research. Her exceptional research work over more than thirty years combines a wide-ranging methodology including geophysics and petrology to explore mid-ocean ridge and is the cornerstone our understanding of the accretion of the oceanic lithosphere and crust.

Dr Karen Hanghøj is the recipient of the William Smith Medal 2023, awarded for excellence in applied and economic aspects of geology. Dr Hanghøj, is the first female Director of the British Geological Survey (BGS) since it was founded in 1835 and a key driving force to ensuring geological research and information is at the forefront of addressing societal challenges, such as a sustainable green energy transition. She is making significant steps through communicating the challenges and opportunities for geology for this transition: her experience of working in Europe and America means she is well placed to convey the importance of raw materials for the energy transition to policymakers. She is a great ambassador for the geosciences at the highest level, in the UK and across the world.

Below is the full list of award winners honoured for their contributions to the geosciences and the geoscience profession.

The Geological Society 2023 Awards:

Wollaston Medal
  Prof Kathy Whaler, University of Edinburgh 
Lyell Medal    Prof Peter Clift Louisiana State University 
Murchison Medal    Dr Mathilde Cannat, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris 
William Smith Medal    Dr Karen Hanghøj, British Geological Survey 
Prestwich Medal    Dr Teal Riley, British Antarctic Survey 
Dewey Medal    Prof Robert Holdsworth, University of Durham 
Coke Medal    Prof Jenni Barclay, University of East Anglia
Coke Medal   Dr Steve Etches, The Etches Collection
Distinguished Service Award    John Talbot
R H Worth Medal
  Seds Online 
Bigsby Medal    Prof Stephen Barker, Cardiff University
Aberconway Medal    Dr Andrew Hart , Atkins 
Wollaston Fund
  Emily Swaby, Open University
Lyell Fund    Dr Hana Jurikova, University of St Andrews 
Murchison Fund    Dr Penny Wieser, University of California, Berkeley 
William Smith Fund    Dr Samantha Engwell, British Geological Survey 
President’s Award
  Dr Hannah Buckland, Swansea University
President’s Award     David Whitworth, Keele University


1. The Geological Society of London, founded 1807 is a learned and professional body, of c. 11,500 Earth scientists with a remit to investigate, interpret, discuss, inform and advise on the nature and processes of the Earth, their practical importance to humanity, and, in the interests of the public, to promote professional excellence. The Society offers advice to Parliament and Government, at individual and corporate levels. Registered Charity No. 210161.

2. The presentation of the Society Awards will be held at The Geological Society - Burlington House on President’s Day on 14 June 2023. It will be a hybrid event and made available online. 

3. You can find out more about the Society Awards and past recipients here .