Images Gilbert F. White
Distinguished Lecture Award

Established in 2011, the AGU Natural Hazards Focus Group Gilbert F. White Distinguished Lecture Award is named in honor of Gilbert F. White, who had contributed greatly to natural hazards research. 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.


Award Winners

  • 2012 Gilbert F. White Distinguished Lecture Award Winner: Dr. Ross Stein

Nomination process and requirements

Award description, Nomination requirements, Award committee, [PDF, 74K] . The main points from this document are listed below.

Eligible Nominees

  • Nominee must be an active AGU member

Ineligible Nominees, Nominators and Supporters

  • Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary of the AGU Natural Hazards Focus Group
  • 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


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

In order to be considered by the Award committee, nominations should be received by 25 May, 2013. Please send nominations in an electronic form (as a single PDF file) to:

Dr. Ning Lin, E-mail:
Secretary, AGU Focus Group on Natural Hazards
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544
Tel: +1-609-258-0266

Evaluatuon process

  • Basic Evaluation Guidelines/Criteria:

    • Stature of the candidate and her or his contributions to the field of natural hazards research and practice.
    • Scientific body of work in the natural hazards and disaster risk research.
    • Focused on excellence and impact (lifetime achievement, contribution across the research fields).
  • Evaluation Process/Balloting Procedure:

    • Committee members will review all nomination packages, rank the candidates, and send list to committee chair. The committee chair will sum up the points for each candidate and share with the committee via e-mail.
    • The committee chair will divide the top few nominees among the committee members by area of expertise. During discussions, each of the committee members who were designated the discussion leader, present information as to why the candidate(s) should be chosen for the Award.
    • At the end of the discussion, a new ranking vote is taken either on conference call or via separate e-mail. The candidate with the most votes is selected. If a clear candidate is not decided, or if the points are close for first place, the committee will discuss either by e-mail or conference call the top candidates and make a decision.
  • Approval by the Chair of the AGU Natural Hazards Focus Group:

    • The role of the Chair is to accept or reject the recommendation of the Award committee on the basis of its evaluation of the process and its knowledge of the candidates. Whereas the Chair may not substitute for the choice, it can ask for further clarification or additional deliberation.
    • The Award committee’s report to the Chair must state the number of candidates considered, how many of these were holdovers and how many were new, and whether the new candidates were nominations from the general call or were actively encouraged by the committee. The report should also describe the process used for reaching the decision and the degree of unanimity on the decision.

Gilbert F. White Award Committee

  • Susan Cutter, University of South Caroline (Chair)
  • John Eichelberger, US Geological Survey
  • Kerry Emanuel, MIT
  • Upmanu Lall, Columbia University
  • Ilya Zaliapin, University of Nevada Reno (ex-officio)
  • Mary Lou Zoback, Stanford University
  • Committee Charge:

    • Select the recipient of the AGU Natural Hazards Focus Group Gilbert F. White Distinguished Lecture Award; the final decision is subject for approval of the AGU Natural Hazards Focus Group 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 Focus Group 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 Focus Group Gilbert F. White Distinguished Lecture Award, the Award Committee members should work with the Natural Hazards Focus Group Executive Committee and Advisory Board to increase the number of nominations of viable candidates in underrepresented groups.