University of Delaware alumna Susan Trumbore has been selected to receive the 2018 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Sciences, the Franklin Institute announced on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Since 1824, the Franklin Institute has honored the greatest men and women of science. The endowed Benjamin Franklin Medals are given annually in the following seven science disciplines: chemistry, civil and mechanical engineering, computer and cognitive science, earth and environmental science, electrical engineering, life science, and physics.
Trumbore, who earned her bachelor's degree in geology at UD in 1981, was selected for helping to pioneer a technique to measure the levels of carbon in plants and soil. As The Philadelphia Inquirer noted in its story on the awards, that is an important tool in understanding the role of greenhouse-gas emissions in climate change.
Currently, Trumbore directs the prestigious Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany. Her research centers on studying soils and plant life to understand how human activity alters the Earth's natural exchanges of carbon among ocean, land and atmosphere.
She is the second UD alumnus to earn the Franklin Medal in the last three years. Brian Atwater earned the award in 2016 for his pioneering study of coastal sediments and the natural disasters that affect their distribution, such as earthquakes and tsunamis.
"It's wonderful that University of Delaware, and geological sciences in particular, has generated two Franklin laureates in just three years," said Estella Atekwana, dean of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE). "This is just the type of example our students need of what is possible with a UD education."
In addition to directing the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Trumbore is a professor of earth system science at University of California, Irvine. She also co-directs the W.M. Keck Carbon Cycle Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility at UCI and directs the UCI branch of the UC Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics.
Trumbore was named a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Other career honors include membership in the National Academy of Sciences (2010) the National Science Foundation's National Young Investigator award and UD's Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement award, both in 1993.
Trumbore completed post-doctoral research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, before joining University of California, Irvine, in 1991. She earned her doctoral degree in geology and geochemistry from Columbia University in 1989.
UD's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment and Department of Geological Sciences will host a symposium to honor Trumbore in 2018, with support from the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) and the Franklin Institute.