July 20, 2017- The 2017 Harry H. Hess Medal was awarded to Professor Roberta Rudnick. Every year, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) awards nine different medals to recognize individuals for their exceptional achievements, outstanding contributions and service to the scientific community, an attainment of eminence in Earth or space science fields. The Harry H. Hess Medal is given annually to one honoree in recognition for “outstanding achievements in research on the constitution and evolution of the Earth and other planets.”
Established in 1984, the Hess Medal is named in honor of Harry H. Hess, who made many contributions to geology, mineralogy, and geophysics. Hess served multiple terms as an AGU section president — for the Geodesy section (1950–1953) as well as the Tectonophysics section (1956–1959). Gerald J. Wasserburg was the first recipient of the Hess Medal.
For more than 30 years, Harry H. Hess was a geology professor at Princeton University. He made major contributions to the study of the oceanic lithosphere, including the concept that convection cells in the mantle were the driving force for seafloor spreading. Hess discovered and explained the formation of flat-topped seamounts (guyots), performed seafloor gravity studies while submerged aboard U.S. Navy submarines, conducted detailed mineralogic and petrologic studies of peridotites, and was an originator of scientific ocean drilling by the Mohole Project.
UC Santa Barbara Earth Science Chair, Professor Andy Wyss, wrote on behalf of all members of the Department: "We couldn't be happier for [her] personally, nor prouder to have [her] as friend and colleague".