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Wadhwa awarded international geochemistry fellowship

This article originally appeared in ASU News.

The Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry have announced that School of Earth and Space Exploration Director Meenakshi Wadhwa has been honored with the title of geochemistry fellow for her major contribution to the field of geochemistry.

In 1996, the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry established the honorary title of geochemistry fellow, to be bestowed upon outstanding scientists who have, over some years, made a major contribution to the field.

“Scientific excellence is a core value of both the Geochemical Society and European Association of Geochemistry, and it is our privilege, by rewarding it, to take a leading role in its definition. In awarding geochemistry fellows, our societies believe it is important to recognize the broad spectrum of scientific achievements that advance geochemistry,” the societies stated in their joint announcement.

Among Wadhwa’s many groundbreaking accomplishments in geochemistry is her use of long-lived and short-lived radioisotopes to refine the age of the solar system and determine the timing of the earliest processes in the solar nebula and on planetary bodies. Her studies of the trace elements and stable isotopes (especially hydrogen) in meteoritic minerals have also allowed her to develop new ways to interpret that data and reveal planetary secrets, particularly those of Mars.

“We are proud of the global reputation that Professor Wadhwa has developed throughout her career, with this award being the most recent validation of her groundbreaking research and leadership in the field of geochemistry,” said ASU Provost Pro Tempore Nancy Gonzales. “Her scholarship is creating new knowledge that informs space exploration missions — including NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, which successfully landed on Mars just last week.” 

In addition to serving as director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, Wadhwa is on the NASA Advisory Council and chairs its science committee. She also is serving on the joint NASA-ESA Mars Sample Planning Group. She was president of the Meteoritical Society for the past two years, recently served on the Mars Sample Return Independent Review Board and the National Academies Space Studies Board and is the recent recipient of the 2021 National Academy of Sciences J. Lawrence Smith Medal for her extraordinary scientific achievements.

“Getting to do what I love to do, and mentoring students and early career researchers along the way, is a reward in itself,” said Wadhwa. “But I am incredibly honored to be recognized in this way by my colleagues in the geochemistry and cosmochemistry communities.”

Wadhwa joins 15 other geochemists receiving the 2021 honorary Geochemistry Fellowship, representing Washington University, the University of Delaware, the University of Utah, Stanford University, the University of California Los Angeles and Oregon State University, as well as international universities and research institutions in Australia, South Africa, France, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and Sweden. The awards will be presented at the society’s Goldschmidt Conference this summer.

About the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry

The Geochemical Society is a nonprofit scientific society founded in 1955 to encourage the application of geochemistry to improving our understanding of the Earth and solar system. Membership is international and diverse in background, encompassing such fields as organic geochemistry, high- and low-temperature geochemistry, petrology, meteoritics, fluid-rock interaction and isotope geochemistry.

The European Association of Geochemistry was officially established in 1985 with the goal of promoting geochemistry internationally and in particular providing a forum for the presentation of geochemistry, exchange of ideas, publications and recognition of scientific excellence.

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School of Earth and Space Exploration