Gilbert F. White Distinguised Lecture Award

Gilbert F. White

Established in 2011, the AGU Natural Hazards Section Gilbert F. White Distinguished Lecture Award is named in honor of Gilbert F. White, who had contributed greatly to natural hazards research. White was internationally known for his significant contributions to natural hazards research, particularly flooding, and the importance of sound water management in contemporary society. The Gilbert F. White Distinguished Lecture Award is given annually to an individual “for original contributions to the basic knowledge of natural hazards and/or disaster risks”. The lecture will be presented by the awardee at the AGU Fall Meeting of the year of the award.

In order to be considered by the Award committee, nominations should be received by April 15, 2017. Please submit your nominations to the committee chair, Ramesh Singh.

Nomination Award Package

Nomination process and requirements

Eligible Nominees

  • Nominee must be an active AGU member

Ineligible Nominees, Nominators and Supporters

  • Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary of the AGU Natural Hazards Section
  • Gilbert F. White Distinguished Lecture Award Committee Members
  • Self-nominations are not accepted

Eligible Nominators and Supporters

  • Open to public
  • Multiple nominators for a candidate are allowed; however it is often suggested that they collaborate so as to submit a more robust package for the nominee


The nomination package should contain the following files, which should be no more than two (2) pages in length per document:

1. Letter of nomination (with one sentence citation not more than 150 characters) by an AGU member and a minimum of 2, but no more than 4, letters of support from peers (not from the nominee’s institution). Total does not include nomination letter.

  • Nomination and supporting letters should be concise, clear, and preferably on letterhead.
  • Nomination and supporting letters must clearly articulate how the candidate(s) research over a sustained period of time has made significant impact on his/her field. The letters must explain the contributions and their importance so that they can be understood by their peers and those outside their research.
  • The first paragraph of each nomination and supporting letter should include the name of the candidate and a few sentences giving the overall reasons for nominating or supporting the candidate. The body of the nominating letter, which could be a few paragraphs, should give a brief and concise history of the candidate’s work and publications that have resulted. Both the nomination and supporting letters should state how the work has contributed to the field overall and/or to the growth of the field, as well as what insights have been gained and what impacts the work will have on current and future research.
  • The last paragraph of the nomination and supporting letters should summarize the work, state who has benefited, and highlight some of the candidate’s recognitions and notable service to his/her field.
  • If possible, the nominator might want to provide his/her nomination letter and other nomination materials to the persons asked to write supporting letters to help ensure the best possible coverage of the nominee’s accomplishments and contributions. It is important that supporting letters augment the letter of nomination through substantive material, establishing the nominee’s international reputation in his/her field as important.
  • Both nomination and supporting letters should contain the author’s signature, full name, title, and institution affiliation. Electronic or official signatures are acceptable.
2. Curriculum vitae of the nominee
  • The curriculum vitae should list the candidate’s (1) name, (2) address, (3) history of employment, (4) degrees, (5) research experience, (6) honors, (7) memberships, and (8) service to the community through committee work, advisory boards, etc. It is important to explain the reasons for the honors, which have been received by the candidate. All incomplete or incorrect CVs will be returned to the nominator for revising.

3. Selected bibliography with a brief introductory summary (no more than one paragraph, indicating the total number publications).

  • Each selected bibliography should begin by briefly stating the candidate’s total number and types of publications. For example: “Jane Doe is the author of 92 publications, 86 in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The following selected list best supports Jane’s nomination for the G. F. White Distinguished Lecture Award.”

Gilbert F. White Award Committee

  • Upmanu Lall, Columbia University

  • John Eichelberger, US Geological Survey

  • Kerry Emanuel, MIT

  • Bruce Malamud, King’s College London

  • Mary Lou Zoback, Stanford University

Committee Charge

  • Select the recipient of the AGU Natural Hazards Section Gilbert F. White Distinguished Lecture Award; the final decision is subject for approval of the AGU Natural Hazards Section Chair.
  • Interpret the scope of the award broadly and in accordance with stated purpose for the award.
  • Do not depend solely on unsolicited nominations. Although committee members are not eligible to submit nominations, they need to be proactive by encouraging nominations through committee member contacts.
  • Conform with AGU conflict of interest policies and protocols for selection committees.
  • State, as part of the award recommendation to the AGU Natural Hazards Section Chair, the number of candidates considered.
  • Define an objective and fair process used for reaching the decision.
  • In addition to selecting the recipient of the AGU Natural Hazards Section Gilbert F. White Distinguished Lecture Award, the Award Committee members should work with the Natural Hazards Section Executive Committee and Advisory Board to increase the number of nominations of viable candidates in underrepresented groups.

Past Winners

  • 2018 Award Winner: Dr. Lucy Jones, Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society
  • 2017 Award Winner: Dr. John LaBrecque, IUGG, GGOS, & University of Texas, Austin
  • 2016 Award Winner: Dr. Roger Pulwarty, NOAA
  • 2015 Award Winner: Dr. Susan Cutter, University of South Carolina
  • 2013 Award Winner: Dr. James Elsner, Florida State University
  • 2012 Award Winner: Dr. Ross Stein, USGS

2018 Award Winner: Dr. Lucy Jones

Dr. Lucy Jones

Dr. Lucy Jones is the founder and chief scientist of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, with a mission to foster the understanding and application of scientific information in the creation of more resilient communities, and a Research Associate at the Seismological Laboratory of Caltech. With a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Language and Literature from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Geophysics from MIT, Dr. Jones has been active in earthquake research for decades, furthering earthquake risk reduction through seismological research and integrated disaster scenarios, including 33 years of federal service with the US Geological Survey. Her work at the USGS included leading the creation of a national science strategy for natural hazards research, creating the first American major earthquake drill, the Great ShakeOut, that has expanded to now encompass 53 million participants around the world in 2017 and writing over 100 published papers on statistical seismology and integrated disaster scenarios. Her pioneering science was recognized with the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (one of just eight awarded to federal employees in 2015), the Ambassador Award from the American Geophysical Union, the William Rodgers Distinguished Alumni Award from Brown University, the 2017 Distinguished Lecture Award of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and most recently, the Frank Press Public Service Award from the Seismological Society of America.

2017 Award Winner: Dr. John LaBrecque

Dr. John LaBrecqueDr. John LaBrecque has over forty-five years of experience in research, engineering, and program management for Earth Science with an emphasis on geophysical exploration techniques including geopotential, seismic, and geodetic systems involving precision navigation of ship-borne, airborne, and space-based platforms. Dr. LaBrecque led NASA’s Solid Earth Science programs for nearly twenty years including NASA’s geodetic infrastructure and research programs, and its satellite gravity, geomagnetics, and topography research missions. John is a research fellow of the Center for Space Research at the University of Texas, Austin. He is vice-chair of the IUGG Commission on Geophysical Risk and Sustainability and Lead of the Geohazards Monitoring Focus Area of the Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS). Dr. LaBrecque is currently focused upon the application of geodetic science and technology for the mitigation of natural hazards and disaster response. his current focus is the application of real time Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology to tsunami and earthquake early warning through the development of international collaboration.

2016 Award Winner: Dr. Roger Pulwarty

Dr. Roger PulwartyDr. Roger Pulwarty, the Senior Science Advisor for Climate, and the Director of the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) at the NOAA Office of Oceans and Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, has been selected for the 2016 Gilbert F. White Distinguished Lecture Award. Roger’s publications focus on climate and risk management in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean. Throughout his career he has helped develop and lead widely-recognized programs dealing with climate science and services, including the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments, NIDIS and the Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change project in the Caribbean. Roger is a lead author on the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Reports on Water Resources and on Extremes, and a convening lead author on the IPCC Working Group II Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Roger has served on advisory committees of the National Academy of Sciences, provided testimonies before the U.S. Congress, and acts as an advisor on climate risk management and services to the Western Governors Association, the Caribbean Economic Community, the Organization of American States, the UNDP, the UNEP and the InterAmerican and World Banks, among others. He chairs the WMO Commission on Climatology Climate Services Information System. Roger’s work has been featured in several media communications, including the New York Times and the BBC. Roger lectures at the University of Colorado and the University of the West Indies. He is a co-recipient of NOAA awards, Department of Commerce Gold and Silver Medals for integrating scientific research into decision-making, and the Gold Medal for Excellence in Applied Science and Technology from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

2015 Award Winner: Dr. Susan L. Cutter

Dr. Susan L. CutterDr. Susan Cutter is a Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography at the University of South Carolina where she is also the Director of the Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute. Her research focuses on disaster vulnerability and resilience science – the reasons why people and the places where they live are vulnerable to extreme events and how vulnerability and resilience are measured, monitored, and assessed. She has authored/edited twelve books and more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. She was the recipient of the 2015 Gilbert F. White Distinguished Lecture Award. She serves on several national advisory boards and committees including the National Research Council, the AAAS, the National Science Foundation, the National Hazards Center, and the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment. Dr. Cutter is also a co-executive editor of Environment, an associated editor of Weather, Climate, and Society, as well as a coordinating lead author of the IPCC Special Report Chapter 5, “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation”. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1976.