Seth Stein, a renowned geophysicist at Northwestern University, is the recipient of the 2022 Walter H. Bucher Medal from the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU). The honor recognizes Stein’s original contributions to the basic knowledge of Earth’s crust and lithosphere.
The lifetime achievement medal honors Stein for scientific excellence over his 42-year career at Northwestern yielding fundamental insights into earthquakes and tectonics, his role in educating and mentoring graduate and undergraduate students and his dedication to advancing Earth and space sciences.
Stein is the William Deering Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a faculty associate of Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research.
“I am honored and thrilled to receive this award,” Stein said. “Most of my life has been spent working with friends -- both students and colleagues -- to better understand how our planet works and how humans can better live with it.
“I’m fascinated and amazed by the complexities of nature and regularly reminded of how much we still don’t know and need to learn more about,” he said. “Helping prepare future generations of Earth scientists to take on these challenges is the best part of my job.”
Stein’s career includes research on a wide range of topics in seismology and geophysics, including development of the widely used NUVEL-1 global plate motion model. One major effort explores why, where, when and how large earthquakes occur and how understanding earthquakes better can help forecast future shaking from earthquakes. Another major effort studies how Earth’s lithosphere evolves and deforms at plate boundaries and in plate interiors.
Stein works extensively with his wife, Carol, professor of Earth and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to joint research, the two recently endowed a graduate fellowship through the Hertz Foundation and an award for early career geoscientists through the Geological Society of America as part of “giving back” to the Earth sciences community.
AGU, a nonprofit organization that supports 130,000 enthusiasts to experts worldwide in Earth and space sciences, annually recognizes a select number of individuals as part of its Honors and Recognition program. AGU will formally recognize Stein and other award recipients during its fall meeting to be held in December in Chicago.