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Nemmers Prize

photo of Nemmers public lecture

Nemmers Prize in earth sciences

Northwestern University’s Nemmers Prizes recognize scholars who have made major contributions to their field of study. Recipients of the biennial prize receive $300,000 and visit Northwestern to interact with our faculty and students, participate in departmental events, and give a public lecture.  The Nemmers Prize in Earth Sciences was established in 2018.  The Prize is also awarded in the fields of Economics and Mathematics (since 1994), Music Composition (since 2004), and Medical Science (since 2015). The Nemmers Prizes are made possible through bequests from the late Erwin E. Nemmers, a former member of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and his brother the late Frederic E. Nemmers.

(Above photo credit: Jim Ziv) 


2022 Recipient Emily Brodsky

In 2023, Professor Emily Brodsky hosted five coffee chat sessions open to the public, providing a forum to ask questions and engage in conversation about current research and knowledge in the field of seismology. Brodsky additionally met with faculty, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students in targeted discussions on topics including contributing factors to the physics of earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides and glaciers. Dr. Brodsky also co-taught a seminar course with Prof Elvira Mulyukova connected to research presented in an appropriately themed edition of our department’s weekly seminar series. Brodsky’s spring visit culminated in a large public 
(Above photo credit: Jill M Norton)      lecture titled The Earthquake Problem.

In connection to the Nemmers Prize, Prof Brodsky returns the week of May 20, 2024 to engage with our community during the Nemmers Workshop on Volcano and Rift Seismicity in the Northern Branches of the East African Rift System, open to invited scholars and scientists from East-African countries, Northwestern students and faculty, and if possible, domestic invitees. The week-long workshop is organized by Prof van der Lee and will focus on sharing participant research, research ideation, and receiving training, with Prof Brodsky leading research discussions and Prof van der Lee and her research group members providing training. We are excited to celebrate Prof Brodsky’s experience and insights and to serve as a vehicle for connecting her work with many budding as well as established scientists in the field of seismology. It has been invigorating to have her presence in the department.

Dr. Brodsky is a distinguished and innovative geophysicist with multi-disciplinary contributions to understanding the physics of earthquakes and rock-fluid interactions. She integrates field observations, laboratory experiments, data analysis, and theoretical insights, to inform our understanding of geophysical processes involving slip and flow at all scales. Her contributions span the seismology of earthquakes and volcanoes, landslides, glaciers, and rivers, for which she leverages interdisciplinary knowledge from structural geology, hydrogeology, materials science, and engineering. Dr. Brodsky's contributions to new knowledge include her impactful work on poro-elastic flow, demonstrating the extensive spatial footprint of fluid-induced stress changes, and she was a pioneer in charting and recognizing the significance of dynamic triggering of seismic activity.  

Learn more about Prof. Brodsky from the Northwestern University 2022 press release and from her website.

freeman_kate_20201113_nemmers300x300.png2020 Recipient Katherine Freeman

Professor Freeman participated in our 2022 weekly spring Seminar series and co-taught a course with Earth and Planetary Sciences Professor Magdalena Osburn titled Nemmers Seminar Supercharged. Freeman presented a lecture open to the public titled Fingerprints of Life.

Learn more about Kate Freeman from the Northwestern University press release and from her website.

Remarks from Bradley Sageman, Nemmers Committee Chair:

Earth and Planetary Sciences is thrilled to welcome Professor Kate Freeman as the 2020 Nemmers Prize in Earth Science recipient. Freeman holds the Evan Pugh University Professorship at Penn State University, is the director of a NASA Astrobiology Center at her home institution, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (since 2013), and a member of the National Academy of Sciences (also since 2013). Freeman has a long history with our department, having collaborated with a number of our faculty and students over the years, and she served an important role as a committee member of the 2014 external program review. Freeman is eagerly looking forward to her visit with us, once we are all beyond the pandemic. Speaking for the department, I extend a warm and hearty welcome to her - it will be an honor and a privilege to have her spend some time with us.


photo of Francis Albarede

2018 Recipient Francis Albarède

Professor Francis Albarède, an Emeritus Professor at the Ecole Normal Supérieure de Lyon in France, is the inaugural recipient of the Nemmers Prize in Earth Sciences. Prof. Albarède has been recognized for his achievements in high-temperature geodynamic processes, planetary sciences, and marine geochemistry. He has revolutionized the field of isotopic analysis through his development of multiple-collector inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry, which has become a standard in the field. Furthermore, he has pursued the understanding of unconventional isotopic systems such as zinc and copper; he has applied geochemical techniques to varied fields such as medicine and history; and he has combined chemical and physical models to understand natural processes including, for example, iron in ancient oceans, the history of volatiles on the Moon, and the origin of life. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geochemical Society, and the European Association of Geochemistry, as well as the author of over 225 peer-reviewed papers and four books.

Professor Albarède spent the 2018 fall quarter at Northwestern where he interacted with students, faculty, and the general public. He spoke at the department’s seminar series, addressed the 2018 Midwest Geobiology Symposium, presented a public lecture entitled “How Silver Became Money,” and participated in a weekly seminar series with graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. Prof. Albarède will return to Northwestern for a week in the spring to attend the Nemmers Prize award reception and the EARTH 201 field excursion.