Alexandria, VA - This year the American Geosciences Institute is recognizing David R. Wunsch, Ph.D. with its Outstanding Contribution to the Understanding of Geoscience award. Through numerous outreach efforts, such as helping New Hampshire residents understand the collapse of the "Old Man on the Mountain," educating the U.S. public on the importance of groundwater and helping support the authorizing of the SECURE Water Act his accomplishments have been numerous and valuable to the U.S. public interest.
Wunsch became the State Geologist of New Hampshire in 2000, and over the next decade he grew the survey tenfold both in personnel and in budget. His implementation of the state geological mapping program led to many partnerships that brought critical local geologic information on to residents. He turned events such as the devastating loss of a state's natural symbol, the Old Man on the Mountain, and an avulsion brought on by an extreme rain event, into opportunities to educate and bring government officials, and the general public, into the field. His efforts working with the state legislature led to increased public support to protect New Hampshire's unique geological features from defacing and vandalism.
His major effort has been helping the U.S. public understand the important role groundwater plays in supporting U.S. society. He helped found a federal-level committee on the subject, and served as the Director of Science and Technology for the National Groundwater Association (NGWA), a then-AGI federation member. His efforts supporting the SECURE Water Act, signed into law by President Obama, resulted in the initial phase of the National Ground Water Monitoring Network which currently has network of 2806 wells from 29 states representing 49 principal aquifers.
This award is presented to a person, organization, or institution in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the public understanding of geoscience. The contribution may be in geoscience or how geoscience relates to economic or environmental aspects of modern civilization. The award may be given to a geoscientist, non-geoscientist, or to an organization or an institution that is geoscientific or non-geoscientific in character.
The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is the global leader in geoscience information. AGI is a nonprofit federation of 49 geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.