J. Lawrence Smith Medal

J. Lawrence Smith Medal

Scheduled for presentation in 2024, nominations will be accepted until Monday, October 2. More information on how to submit a nomination can be found here. To get awards news straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for our Connect with Awards newsletter.

About the J. Lawrence Smith Medal

The J. Lawrence Smith Medal is awarded every three years for recent original and meritorious investigations of meteoric bodies. The award includes a $50,000 prize. The award was established as a gift from Sarah Julia Smith in memory of her husband and has been presented since 1888.

Most Recent Recipient

Meenakshi Wadhwa, Arizona State University, received the 2021 J. Lawrence Smith Medal. 

Wadhwa has deepened the world’s understanding of the evolutionary history of the solar system through her significant contributions to the sciences of cosmochemistry, solar system chronology, meteoritics, and trace element geochemistry. Her work has elevated the science and knowledge of the evolutionary history of the solar system, and she has advanced scientific understanding of the geologic history of Mars.
Read more about Wadhwa's work»

Award History 

Previous recipients of the J. Lawrence Smith Medal continue to achieve outstanding advancements in their fields. Three recipients have been honored with a National Medal of Science, and one recipient has received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry (Urey 1934).


Meenakshi Wadhwa (2021)
For her major contributions to some of the most important problems in cosmochemistry. Her refinement of the U-Pb dating method has led to improved age determinations of meteorites and an enhanced understanding of solar system history. Her use of other isotopes has revealed the timing of early solar system events.
Read more about Wadhwa's work»
Watch Wadhwa's acceptance speech»

Kevin D. McKeegan (2018)
For contributions to understanding of the processes and chronology of the early solar system as recorded by primitive meteorites, for innovation in analytical instrumentation, and for showing that the oxygen isotopic compositions of the Earth and rocky planets and meteorites are distinctly different from that of the Sun.
Read more about McKeegan's work»
Watch McKeegan's acceptance speech»

Hiroko Nagahara (2015)
For her work on the kinetics of evaporation and condensation processes in the early Solar System and her fundamental contributions to one of the most enduring mysteries in meteoritics, the formation of the chondrules that constitute the characteristic component of the most abundant group of meteorites.
Read more about Nagahara's work»
Watch Nagahara's acceptance speech»

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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