Stanford University

Professor emeritus Dave Pollard receives highest award of Geological Society

The award is given to geoscientists who have had a significant influence by means of a substantial body of excellent research in either or both 'pure' and 'applied' aspects of the science.

BY Danielle Torrent Tucker
ClockMay 26, 2021

Dave Pollard, the Barney and Estelle Morris Professor of Earth Sciences, Emeritus, has been awarded the 2021 Wollaston Medal, the highest honor of the Geological Society of London.

The Wollaston Medal was established by the eminent British scientist William Hyde Wollaston (1766-1828) to promote “researches concerning the mineral structure of the Earth” … “or of the science of Geology in general.” Wollaston is credited with discovering the chemical elements palladium and rhodium.

Dave Pollard
Dave Pollard

Pollard’s research aims to understand how faults and fractures affect the flow of magma, groundwater, and hydrocarbons, and the crucial role fractures play in earthquake generation and volcanic eruption. He uses quantitative field data and principles of structural geology, combined with laboratory and computer modeling, to address fundamental questions about processes of faulting, fracturing and rock deformation.

“Dave was a very prominent figure in structural geology during his years as an active faculty member at Stanford Earth,” said Stephan Graham, the Chester Naramore Dean of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “His students occupy faculty positions, as well as positions in the petroleum industry.”

Pollard joins a group of distinguished scholars who have received the medal since it was first awarded in 1831, including Louis Agassiz (1836), Charles Darwin (1859), and Charles Lyell (1866).

“I was particularly pleased to see scientists on the list who I have greatly admired and patterned my career after, including William Hopkins (1850), Grove Karl Gilbert (1900), Osmond Fisher (1913), Arthur Holmes (1956), Hans Ramberg (1972), and John Graham Ramsay (1986),” Pollard said.

The Geological Society of London, which was founded in 1807, has over 12,000 members worldwide. The organization aims to improve knowledge and understanding of the Earth, to promote Earth science education and awareness, and to promote professional excellence and ethical standards in the work of Earth scientists, for the public good. Pollard, an emeritus professor of geological sciences, will be recognized during the society’s virtual awards ceremony on June 25.

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