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ASU professor honored for outstanding contributions in the geosciences

Everett Shock has been selected for the American Geophysical Union 2023 Eunice Newton Foote Medal for Earth-Life Science

Headshot of Professor Everett Shock.

Professor Everett Shock, recipient of the Eunice Newton Foote Medal for Earth-Life Science.

September 13, 2023

The American Geophysical Union has announced that Arizona State University Professor Everett Shock is being honored with the Eunice Newton Foote Medal for Earth-Life Science

AGU, which is the largest professional organization of earth and space scientists, established the Eunice Newton Foote Medal for Earth-Life Science in 2022 to recognize outstanding creative achievements in research at the intersection of earth and life sciences that have substantially advanced understanding of the past, present or future of key facets of the Earth system, or of the prospects for life on worlds beyond our own, or of the future of human well-being. 

"Professor Everett Shock’s long-standing contributions to the interdisciplinary fields of biogeochemistry and astrobiology make him incredibly well deserving of this honor. It is a wonderful recognition of his innovative work in these fields that combines theoretical approaches with fieldwork and experiments," said Meenakshi Wadhwa, director of ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration

“The extensive research conducted by Everett Shock, which integrates geochemistry and microbiology, has provided us with a better understanding of hot spring ecosystems,” said Tijana Rajh, director in the School of Molecular Sciences. “Shock's research has revealed the crucial role of chemical energy in fueling microbial metabolism and has introduced innovative concepts that shed light on the structure and function of high-temperature microbial communities.”

Shock joined ASU in 2002, holds dual appointments in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Molecular Sciences, and is recognized for his outstanding contributions to the geosciences. 

Shock’s research group, GEOPIG — Group Exploring Organic Processes In Geochemistry — takes an interdisciplinary approach to understand how planets become habitable from within, and how geologic processes make Earth’s biochemistry possible. They conduct fieldwork in microbially dominated ecosystems enabled by serpentinization and hydrothermal processes, explore hydrothermal organic transformations through experiments and quantify the consequences of water-organic-rock-microbe reactions through thermodynamic modeling. Shock and GEOPIG make their computational tools available at the WORM Portal.

“Everett has been working at the earth-life boundary for over 30 years and has been pushing our community to think ever more broadly about how life uses the chemistry our Earth allows,” said Hilairy Hartnett, deputy director in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. “From the moment I arrived at ASU 20 years ago, Everett began to influence me to think more about the 'geo' in biogeochemistry. We've been collaborating in the field and the lab ever since. He is highly deserving of this award.”

Shock is a fellow of the Geochemical Society and European Association for Geochemistry, a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, recipient of the Geochemistry Medal from the American Chemical Society and a member of the MASPEX team for the Europa Clipper mission.

“Everett has been a pioneer in the application of thermodynamic modeling to problems in earth and space science — from method development to solving important problems in environmental chemistry, geochemistry, biogeochemistry and most recently, the chemistry of habitable worlds,” said Ian Gould, President’s Professor in the School of Molecular Sciences. “This award represents well-deserved recognition of the contributions and creativity of a truly original scientist.”

Eunice Newton Foote was an American amateur scientist, inventor and women’s rights campaigner. Through her clever experimental design in the 1850s, Foote’s results were the first to indicate the relationship between the concentration of gases like carbon dioxide and the retention of heat in the atmosphere. Her pioneering research is now recognized as the earliest investigation of greenhouse gases and global warming. Foote’s results were published in 1856 in the American Journal of Science and Arts, the first time an American woman’s scientific work was published. 

“Geologic processes have geochemical consequences that drive microbial responses. Likewise, microbial processes have geochemical consequences that drive geologic responses. We try to understand the links in those chains,” Shock said. 

AGU will formally recognize this year’s recipients during their fall meeting, which will be held in San Francisco, Dec. 11–14. 

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