Joint Award: Geodesy, Seismology, and Tectonophysics Sections

Paul G. Silver Award for
Outstanding Scientific Service
Lucy M. Flesch
Purdue University


Dr. Lucy Flesch demonstrates excellence in all of the areas that the Paul G. Silver Award for Outstanding Scientific Service addresses: mentorship, leadership on community initiatives, and collaborative research. Her contributions in the area of community leadership in the context of negotiating a critical merger between the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and UNAVCO are especially extraordinary in both the effort required and the impact to global geophysics.

As the AGU community broadly knows, IRIS, operator of the U.S. Large Facility for Seismology (SAGE), and UNAVCO, operator of the U.S. Large Facility for Geodesy (GAGE), will merge to provide broad and cross-disciplinary support for geophysics research through infrastructure, data services, and engagement. Providing the motivation and context for taking on such a process required a clear vision of how geophysics could be transformed to enable a new century of innovative discoveries. Dr. Flesch was instrumental in developing and communicating that vision and in building the relationships between people necessary to realize it. I am certain that realizing a merger of consortia and the communities they represent will enable new discoveries that we can’t yet imagine and empower new kinds of scientists to make them.

In addition to this specific and hard-won achievement, Dr. Flesch has a long and rich record of mentoring young geoscientists, especially the young women who have become, as a cohort, the new innovators in geophysics. Several of Dr. Flesch’s graduate and even undergraduate students have gone on to successful careers in academia and have made high-impact contributions in integrating seismic and geodetic data and in numerical simulation of tectonic dynamics. Dr. Flesh was a very early adopter of multidata constraints on simulations and has continued to advance that area of research through publications and, more recently, through contributions to big policy and direction documents and high-level panels widely used to set funding and research agendas globally.

Finally, Dr. Flesch has also pursued collaborative research throughout her career, both across disciplines and across national boundaries. She has active and ongoing partnerships with researchers in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, and has advocated for scientists in the developing world often and vigorously.

To summarize, having had the pleasure and honor to both directly collaborate with and observe Dr. Flesch throughout her extraordinary career, I know that she exemplifies all of the values honored by the Silver Award.

—Rebecca Bendick, UNAVCO, Boulder, Colo., and University of Montana, Missoula


I would like to thank Rebecca Bendick for her generous citation, ongoing collaboration, and friendship. I am very honored to receive the Paul G. Silver Award. I was fortunate to have Paul as a mentor, an example of scientific service, and friend. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to the efforts that have furthered the community’s larger goals and honor the work Paul enthusiastically believed in. I would also like to thank Bill Holt for his mentorship and friendship and for serving as another example of effective scientific leadership. In my service to this community, I have been lucky enough to frequently have Kristine Larson sitting across the table from me and need to thank her for her keen insights, friendship, and encouragement.

When we all came together to facilitate the UNAVCO/IRIS merger, we were told by the consultants that forced mergers tended to be unsuccessful. UNAVCO and the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), however, have defied the odds by successfully negotiating merger terms and bylaws, obtaining board and member endorsement, and will soon result in a merged EarthScope Consortium. This success is due to the open-minded and collaborative approach that both boards and senior leadership brought to the process. I would like to acknowledge all the board chairs and presidents who made the merger negotiations successful, specifically Doug Weins, Rick Aster, Meghan Miller, Becks Bendick, Bob Detrick, and Bob Woodward.

I have been fortunate to work with and am indebted to amazing UNAVCO board members Ed Nissen, Terry Wilson, Laura Wallace, Toni Van Damn, James Foster, Nancy Glenn, John LaBrecque, Adrian Borsa, Falk Amelung, Jeff Freymueller, and Emma Hill. I would like to give a very special thank you to Andrea Donnellan and Roni Grapenthin, who each served as my vice chair and provided insight and support as we rode the roller coaster of change management together.

My scientific success has benefited from the time and contributions of many individuals who came together to serve a larger common community purpose. I am grateful to be able to contribute to that legacy and look forward to the new discoveries that the EarthScope Consortium will enable. Finally, I would like to thank the AGU Geodesy, Seismology, and Tectonophysics sections and presidents for this honor.

—Lucy M. Flesch, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

Field Photos

Lucy Flesch field photo