Hills above rainforest and mist in Cuba

Charles a. whitten Medal

Information on the Whitten Medal

The Charles A. Whitten Medal is awarded in even-numbered years to a senior scientist in recognition of outstanding achievement in research on the form and dynamics of the Earth and planets. Recipients of this award typically work in the following disciplines: geodesy, nonlinear geophysics, planetary sciences, seismology or tectonophysics.

Charles Whitten was a geodesist with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey who made outstanding contributions to the geodetic sciences, specifically to the research of crustal movements. Whitten formerly served as president of AGU’s Geodesy section (1964–1968) and AGU General Secretary (1968–1974). He was the first recipient of this medal when it was established in 1984.

Earth Sunrise and Milky Way Illustration

Award benefits

AGU is proud to recognize our honorees. Recipients of the Charles A. Whitten Medal will receive an engraved medal, as well as the following benefits with the honor:

  • 1

    Awardee will be made an AGU conferred Fellow (if the honoree has been an AGU member for three consecutive years and is not already a Fellow)

  • 2

    Recognition in Eos

  • 3
    Recognition at AGU’s Fall Meeting during the award presentation year
  • 4

    Four complimentary hotel nights during AGU’s Fall Meeting during the award presentation year

  • 5

    Two complimentary tickets to the Honors Banquet at AGU’s Fall Meeting during the award presentation year


To better understand eligibility for nominators, supporters and Whitten Medal Committee members, review AGU's Honors Conflict of Interest Policy.

  • 1

    Nominees: The nominee should be a senior scientist, but is not required to be an active AGU member. They should be in compliance with the Conflict of Interest Policy.

  • 2

    Nominators: Nominators must be active AGU members and in compliance with the Conflict of Interest Policy. Duplicate nominations for the same individual will not be accepted. However, one co-nominator is permitted (but not required) per nomination.

  • 3

    Supporters: Individuals who write letters of support for the nominee are not required to be active AGU members but must be in compliance with the Conflict of Interest Policy.

Looking up to canopy of pine trees
Geodesist using theodolitewhile standing against wind turbine and sunset

Nomination package

Your nomination package must contain all the following files, which should be no more than two pages in length per document. For detailed information on the requirements, review the Union Awards, Medals and Prizes Frequently Asked Questions.

  1. A nomination letter with one-sentence citation (150 characters or less). Letterhead stationary is preferred. Nominator’s name, title, institution, and contact information are required. The citation should appear at either the beginning or end of the nomination letter.
  2. A curriculum vitae for the nominee. Include the candidate’s name, address and email, history of employment, degrees, research experience, honors, memberships, and service to the community through committee work, advisory boards, etc.
  3. A selected bibliography stating the total number, the types of publications and the number published by AGU.
  4. Three letters of support not including the nomination letter. Letterhead is preferred. Supporter’s name, title, institution, and contact information are required.

Past recipients


Year of honor

David Sandwell


Veronique Dehant


Paul Segall


David E. Smith


W.R. Peltier


Charles C. Counselman III


John M. Wahr


Wayne Thatcher


Byron D. Tapley


Richard I. Walcott


Gordon Pettengill


Donald Turcotte


Kurt Lambeck


Irwin I. Shapiro


James C. Savage


William M. Kaula


Charles A. Whitten


Honors Contacts

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Robert Rader

Director, Engagement and Membership

202-777-7418 | [email protected]

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Leah Bland

Program Manager, Honors

202-777-7389 | [email protected]

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Antonio Covington

Program Specialist, Section Awards and Lectures

202-777-7484 | [email protected]