The Nemmers Prize in Earth Sciences is awarded for achievement and work of lasting significance in the field of earth sciences. The prize includes a cash award of $200,000, and the recipient of the new Nemmers Prize will spend a significant amount of time on Northwestern's campus interacting with faculty and students.
The first Nemmers Prize in Earth Sciences is awarded in 2018 to Francis Albarède for his fundamental applications of geochemistry to earth sciences.
Francis Albarède is Emeritus Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon and Adjunct Faculty at Rice University in Houston. He is a geochemist with a broad range of interests who contributed to high-temperature geodynamic processes, planetary sciences, and marine geochemistry. He obtained a PhD from the University of Paris, became a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech, then moved to the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Géologie in Nancy, where he stayed for 12 years and created a group dedicated to secondary ion mass spectrometry. He joined the ENS Lyon faculty in 1991. There, his group initiated the development of multiple-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, which has since become the standard technique for isotopic analysis. He authored over 225 peer-reviewed papers and four books. He received several national and international awards, including the prestigious Goldschmidt Award in 2008, and is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geochemical Society, and the European Association of Geochemistry. He has been Senior Editor of major academic journals, notably Earth and Planetary Science Letters and Journal of Geophysical Research.
Francis Albarède further is known for having pioneered the use of unconventional stable isotopes as markers of natural processes, in particular copper and zinc isotopes. He recently explored applications of isotopic tracers to archeology, history, biology, and medicine. He is recognized for combining cutting-edge analytical techniques with the understanding of the physics and chemistry of natural processes using mathematics to bridge the two approaches. In 2017, he was awarded an Advanced Grant by the European Research Council to explore the role of silver in the origin of ancient monetized economies.