Marilyn Fogel

Washington, DC— Isotope geochemist Marilyn Fogel, who spent 33 years as a Staff Scientist Carnegie’s former Geophysical Laboratory—now part of the Institution’s Earth and Planets Laboratory—has been chosen to receive the Geochemical Society’s highest honor, the Victor Moritz Goldschmidt Award, in recognition to her numerous and varied contributions to the field.

“Marilyn has had a deep and lasting impact on important questions in Earth and planetary sciences. Her work at Carnegie still echoes through our halls and will continue to do so for decades to come,” said Carnegie President Eric D. Isaacs. “Congratulations to Marilyn on this much-deserved honor.”

Marilyn uses isotopes to trace biogeochemical events over time and reveal information about biological and geological activity, including climate, migration, meteorite processes and diet. Her work crosses disciplinary boundaries and geographical borders—taking her from ice fields to the tropics to deserts—to probe the origin of life on our planet and understand how it interacted with geological forces, as well as what this can teach us about how to look for signatures of life on other worlds. Fogel’s collaborators over the decades represent a broad array of expertise, including a stint as a Visiting Scholar at Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology.

She has also been a tireless mentor to generations of early career scientists—high school and undergraduate interns, graduate students, and postdocs. Her approach inspires others to think broadly and creatively about research and embrace new ways of solving problems.

“Marilyn’s research career has been remarkably productive. Her work has touched so many fields from paleoecology to climate change to astrobiology, and so many individuals at all career stages,” said Earth and Planets Laboratory Director Michael Walter. “This award is a recognition of her legacy of excellence across broad swaths of the scientific enterprise.”

Added Staff Scientist Andrew Steele, a longtime collaborator and friend: “Not only is Marilyn responsible for wide-ranging scientific breakthroughs, her originality, mentorship and enthusiasm for her science has made everyone who has interacted with her, at whatever level, a better scientist. She has also carried the torch for women in science for many years, as is witnessed by the huge scientific family she has fostered and nurtured to success. ”

After earning a Ph.D. in botany and marine science from the University of Texas 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.

She is 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 Alfred Treibs Medal in 2013.

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Earth/Planetary Science