Public Release: 

Carnegie's Richard Carlson receives Arthur L. Day Medal

Carnegie Institution for Science

Washington, D.C -- Carnegie geochemist Richard Carlson has been awarded the prestigious Arthur L. Day Medal from the Geological Society of America (GSA) for "outstanding distinction in contributing to geologic knowledge through the application of physics and chemistry to the solution of geologic problems."

Carlson studies the chemical and physical processes that formed the terrestrial planets. Using the known decay rates of various radioactive isotopes, he investigates the chronology of early processes on small planetary objects and studies the chemical and physical aspects of old and young crust-forming processes on Earth. He has developed and applied a range of isotope geochemical and cosmochemical tools to shape our understanding of the origin of continental magmas, the formation of the continental crust and lithospheric mantle, the early differentiation of the Earth and Moon, and the chronology of the early Solar System.

"Rick is very deserving of this distinction," remarked Carnegie president Richard Meserve. "He is highly accomplished in his field and is an exceptional mentor. He typifies a Carnegie scientist and we are very proud of his accomplishments."

Nominator Stanley R. Hart commented, "There is hardly any field of geochemistry and cosmochemistry that Rick has not strongly impacted and this impact has extended to the whole Earth and Planetary Sciences." Nominator Thomas H. Jordan added, "Rick Carlson is the most scientifically accomplished geochemist of his generation."

Carlson received a B.A. in chemistry and Earth science from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in 1976 and a Ph.D. in Earth science from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD in 1980. He has been a staff member at Carnegie since 1981. Carlson received the 2008 Norman L. Bowen Award from the American Geophysical Union. He has served on many science review panels for the National Science Foundation, NASA and others, and has supervised many Ph.D. students, in addition to pre and postdoctoral fellows. Carlson is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geochemical Society. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, among other affiliations.


The Arthur L. Day Medal was established in 1948 by Arthur L. Day to be awarded annually, or less frequently. The medal will be presented Monday, October 28, at the GSA annual meetings. For more information see

The Carnegie Institution for Science has been a pioneering force in basic scientific research since 1902. It is a private, nonprofit organization with six research departments throughout the U.S. Carnegie scientists are leaders in plant biology, developmental biology, astronomy, materials science, global ecology, and Earth and planetary science.

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