Marilyn Fogel

Washington, DC—Isotope geochemist Marilyn Fogel will be posthumously recognized with the American Geophysical Union’s Eunice Newton Foote Medal for Earth-Life Science, which is awarded annually to “an exceptional senior scientist for outstanding creative achievements in research at the intersection of Earth and life sciences.”

Fogel, who died in May, spent 33 years as a Staff Scientist at Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory in Washington D.C., now the location of the Institution’s Earth and Planets Laboratory, as well as a short stint as a visiting scholar at Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology in California, before moving on to positions at U.C. Merced and U.C Riverside.

“This is a wonderful recognition by the AGU of Marilyn’s scientific legacy,” said Carnegie President Eric D. Isaacs. “Throughout her career, she crossed disciplinary boundaries and advanced her expertise into a succession of fields, defining new avenues for exploration.”

Fogel developed the use of stable isotopes to trace astrobiological, biogeochemical, and ecological processes, ranging from the origins of life on our planet to the search for life on distant worlds. She also probed the many ways human activity has altered ecosystem dynamics from ancient extinction events in Australia to drought in California.

“The Foote Medal was created to highlight work being done that connects our understanding of the past, present and future of the Earth System, as well as the prospects for life on other worlds and the ‘future of human well-being,’” said Carnegie Earth and Planets Laboratory Director Michael Walter. “Marilyn’s research was impactful across every research area recognized by this prize.”

After earning a Ph.D. in botany and marine science from the University of Texas at Austin, Fogel joined Carnegie as a Carnegie Corporation Fellow in 1977. Two years later she became a Staff Scientist, a position she held until 2012, when she left to become Chair of the Life and Environmental Sciences Unit of the U.C. Merced School of Natural Sciences. In 2016 she was named Director of the EDGE (Environmental Dynamics & Geo-Ecology) Institute at U.C. Riverside.

Fogel was a Member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and the Geochemical Society, which also awarded her its highest honor, the Victor Moritz Goldschmidt Award earlier this year, as well as its Alfred Treibs Medal in 2013.

“Marilyn's dedication to mentoring generations of scientists, myself included, and especially her advocacy for women in science, affected so many careers and enhanced the science of the whole stable isotope community,” said friend and frequent collaborator Andrew Steele, a Staff Scientist at Carnegie’s Earth and Planets Laboratory. “The researchers whose work Marilyn shaped and encouraged will carry her legacy forward for generations.”

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Earth/Planetary Science