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Geosciences Alumni named National Academy of Sciences Members

National Academy of Science building entrance in Washington, D.C.

A building entrance to the National Academy of Science in Washington, D.C.


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On May 1, 2012, The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) announced the qualifying 84 new members and 21 new foreign associates in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Among them were two Geosciences alumni: Susan L. Brantley ’80, *87 and Patricia M. Dove *91.

In order to become a member of the academy, candidates must be nominated and elected by current NAS members. The presenting member supplies NAS with the nominee’s vitae, a 250-word statement of the nominee’s scientific accomplishments, and a limited list of the nominee’s publications. Membership into the academy is considered to be one of the highest honors a scientist can receive, and is widely accepted as a mark of excellence towards innovative research in the United States. The process to eliminate nominees and elect new members can be an extensive and complex procedure for the deciding committee. NAS membership is estimated at 2,152 members and 430 foreign associates; this includes 200 individuals that have been awarded Nobel prizes. There are only 84 memberships granted each year.

Susan Brantley is a former graduate student of the late David Crerar, faculty 1973-1994. Currently, Brantley is a Distinguished Professor of Geosciences at Penn State University in Pennsylvania. Brantley’s research involves water-to-rock interactions; geochemistry related to soil and erosion; geomicrobiology; the measurement of minerals in the laboratory and in the field; environmental water issues and biogeochemical cycling; as well as studies in volcanic fluid interactions and releases. Brantley is the director of the Water-Rock Interaction Laboratory at Penn’s campus. The lab’s focuses on environmental chemistry and geochemistry. In July 2011, the Geological Society of America (GSA) awarded Brantley the Arthur L. Day Medal for her contributions in physics and chemical sciences. She is on the IGERT National Recruitment Program Advisory Committee and a member of the Geochemical Society, among other organizations.

Patricia Dove is also a former graduate student of Dr. Crerar. Dove now teaches at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia. She is titled as C.P. Miles Professor of Science in the Department of Geosciences. Dove’s research is on biogeochemistry, biomineralization, and geochemical effects on geophysical properties. The National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy are among organizations that support her work. In 1996, Dove received the Geochemical Society’s Clarke Medal. She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, a member of both the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry, and other organizations.

On a related note, emeritus William Bonini and his wife Rose also found themselves celebrating this year’s new member announcement. Their daughter Nancy Bonini was listed right above Susan Brantley on the accepted members roll call. You can image Prof. Bonini's reaction when he saw the list. Daughter Bonini is a researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a Professor of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.

The awards will be granted at the 149th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, April 28, 2011. The Department of Geosciences congratulates all three accepted NAS members for their outstanding achievement.