Header J. Lawrence Smith Medal

The J. Lawrence Smith Medal will be presented in 2015.

The J. Lawrence Smith Medal is awarded every three years for investigations of meteoric bodies. The award carries with it a gold-plated bronze medal and a $50,000 prize. J. Lawrence Smith was a world-renowned American chemist. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and served as president of both the American Chemistry Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He invented, and later perfected, an inverted microscope, where chemical reactions on the slide being examined are kept well away from any sensitive optics.

Smith began collecting meteorites in the early 1850s. By 1880 he had amassed a collection from over 250 falls containing 896,357 gm of irons and 86,398 gm of stones. Harvard University purchased his collection for $8,000. In 1883, Smith’s widow, Sarah Julia Smith, donated these funds to the National Academy of Sciences to establish the J. Lawrence Smith Medal.
The J. Lawrence Smith Medal was first awarded in 1888 to Hubert Anson Newton. Newton was a mathematician and astronomer who determined the orbits of meteors and comets, as well as the influence of planets on these orbits. Newton was a founding member of the National Academy of Sciences and one of the first researchers to use photography in his records of meteorological observations.
The most recent J. Lawrence Smith medal was presented in April, 2012 to Harry Y. McSween Jr. McSween’s research characterizes the mineralogy, petrology, and cosmochemistry of chondrites, the most common type of meteorites falling to Earth, shergottites and nakhlites, generally accepted to be rocks from Mars, and eucrites, diogenites, and howardites, igneous rocks from a differentiated asteroid. McSween is co-investigator for the Mars Odyssey spacecraft mission, which is mapping the mineralogy and geochemistry of the Martian surface from orbit, the Mars Exploration Rovers which have analyzed rocks and soils at two landing sites, and the Dawn spacecraft mission, which began orbiting asteroid Vesta in 2011 and will subsequently explore Ceres, the largest asteroid.


Harry Y. McSween, Jr. (2012)
For his studies of the igneous and metamorphic histories of the parent planets of the chondritic and achondritic meteorites, with particular emphasis on his work on the geological history of Mars based on studies of Martian meteorites and spacecraft missions to this planet.

Robert N. Clayton (2009)
For pioneering the study of oxygen isotopes to unravel the nature and origin of meteorites, showing that meteorites were assembled from components with distinct nuclear origins.

Klaus Keil (2006)
For his pioneering quantitative studies of minerals in meteorites and important contributions to understanding the nature, origin, and evolution of their parent bodies.

John T. Wasson (2003)
For important studies on the classification, origin, and early history of iron meteorites and chondritic meteorites, and on the mode of formation of chondrules.

George W. Wetherill (2000)
For his unique contributions to the cosmochronology of the planets and meteorites and to the orbital dynamics and formation of solar system bodies.

Ernst Zinner (1997)
For his pioneering studies of the isotopic composition of circumstellar dust grains preserved in meteorites, opening a new window to the formation of the solar nebula.

Donald E. Brownlee (1994)

Robert M. Walker (1991)

A. G. W. Cameron (1988)

G. J. Wasserburg (1985)

Ralph B. Baldwin (1979)

John A. Wood (1976)

Clair C. Patterson (1973)

Edward Anders (1971)

Edward P. Henderson (1970)

John H. Reynolds (1967)

Harold C. Urey (1962)

Ernst J. Opik (1960)

Mark G. Inghram (1957)

Peter M. Millman (1954)

Fred L. Whipple (1949)

Stuart H. Perry (1945)

George P. Merrill (1922)

H. A. Newton (1888)

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