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Devendra lal medal

Information on the Lal Medal

The Devendra Lal Memorial Medal is given annually to an early- or mid-career scientist in recognition of outstanding research in Earth and/or space sciences by a scientist belonging to and working in developing country. Recipients of this award may work across any Earth and space science discipline.

The Devendra Lal Medal is named in honor of Professor Devendra Lal, a distinguished geophysicist whose work spanned diverse areas of the Earth and space sciences. He is best known for his role in founding and developing the field in which cosmic rays produced isotopes on Earth and are used as tracers to investigate a wide range of Earth science problems.

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Award benefits

AGU is proud to recognize our honorees. Recipients of the Devendra Lal Memorial 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
    Lifetime membership to AGU
  • 3
    Recognition in Eos
  • 4
    Invitation to present a lecture and recognition at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year
  • 5
    Four complimentary hotel nights at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year
  • 6
    Two complimentary tickets to the Honors Banquet at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year


To better understand eligibility for nominators, supporters and committee members, review AGU’s Honors Conflict of Interest Policy.

  • The nominee is not required to be an active AGU member.
  • The nominee must be an early- or mid-career scientist within 10 to 20 years of receiving their Ph.D. or the highest equivalent terminal degree as of 1 January of the year of the nomination. PLEASE NOTE: Allowances to this eligibility requirement will be considered under AGU's Honors Program Career Stage Eligibility Requirement Allowance Policy. This policy grants allowances to the career stage eligibility requirement based on the following family or medical leave circumstances: childbirth; adoption; personal serious illness; primary caregiver of a person with a health condition, and any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, child, or parent of the employee is engaged in military service. Allowances for other extenuating circumstances not covered in the above examples (i.e., economic hardship, other career breaks, etc.) can also be considered. 
  • The nominee must belong to and work in a developing country, designated by the World Bank as “low” or “lower-middle” income per capita.
  • The nominee should be in compliance with the Conflict of Interest Policy

  • Nominators are required to hold an active AGU membership.
  • The nominator should be 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.

  • Individuals who write letters of support for the nominee are not required to be active AGU members.
  • The supporter should be in compliance with the Conflict of Interest Policy.

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, an authors list with affiliations, as it appears in the publications, and the number published by AGU.
  • 4
    The bibliography should include the titles of the nominee’s 10 best papers (indicated by an asterisk), highlighting which papers showcase the nominee’s qualifications for the medal.
  • 5
    Three letters of support not including the nomination letter. Letterhead is preferred. Supporter’s name, title, institution, and contact information are required.
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Lal medal nominees are evaluated on scientific excellence, scientific impact, and broader impact. This includes the following definitions:

Scientific excellence: The scientific excellence of the candidate’s body of published work, as well as his/her contributions to human capital in a developing country. The recipient must be a citizen from a developing country and have conducted their work in a developing country.

Scientific impact: How the candidate’s work has made a significant impact on his/her field, and/or to its growth, through influencing current and future research at a border level, particularly in the developing country.

Broader impact: The candidate’s impact on his/her field in the developing country, notable service to his/her field, and their alignment with AGU’s mission and vision.

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Past recipients

Kuljeet Kaur Marhas was awarded the 2019 Devendra Lal Memorial Medal at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 11 December 2019 in San Francisco, Calif. The medal is for “outstanding Earth and/or space sciences research by a scientist belonging to and working in a developing country.”



Kuljeet is an eminent secondary mass spectrometrist who has greatly advanced the in situ, high spatial resolution mass spectrometric technique to analyze nanometer- to micrometer-scale extraterrestrial particles to understand stellar nucleosynthesis and the solar–stellar connection. She has made fundamental contributions to the study of short-lived nuclides (7Be, 10Be, 26Al, 41Ca, and 60Fe) in early forming solids as well as the study of heavy elements in presolar materials.

Kuljeet obtained her Ph.D. from the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), India, in 2001. Later, she established the nano secondary ion mass spectrometer (NanoSIMS) laboratory at PRL, where high spatial resolution, in situ mass spectrometric techniques are used to address questions of scientific and spatial relevance for a broad range of disciplines. She has also made important contributions in other areas of stellar nucleosynthesis and analysis of sample return missions during her postdoctoral tenures. She has worked extensively with a wide suite of the early forming solar system solids (hibonites, calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions, chondrules, and samples returned from various planetary missions, viz., Apollo 15, Stardust, and Hayabusa-1) to understand the cosmochemical conditions and the chronological evolution of the early solar system.

Kuljeet’s ability to work on projects that have rarely been ventured into has led to the majority of her publications. She is an ardent speaker and has given many talks in simple language motivating and exciting young students and children with new research findings in Earth and space sciences.

I wish her success in her future research.

—Anil Bhardwaj, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, India


I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the Devendra Lal Memorial Medal and the recognition from AGU. I take this opportunity to convey my deep and sincere gratitude to my mentors, collaborators, colleagues, and friends for their kind contribution toward various research programs that have been recognized and appreciated by my nominator, Professor Anil Bhardwaj, and the selection committee.

Professor D. Lal has been an inspirational, mentoring figure at many institutions across continents. It is, indeed, an honor to be associated with a distinguished scientific luminary whose contributions, mentoring, and enthusiasm for novel science were enormously addictive. He worked in a number of fields/areas with the efficiency of a pro. If I could advance science by even a few percent of his contribution, that would be a source of satisfaction and pride for me.

My heartfelt thanks to Professor J. N. Goswami, my Ph.D. supervisor at the Physical Research Laboratory, India, for introducing me to the world of heavenly bodies and setting me on the exploratory path of planetary sciences. I had no idea that I could carry on and eventually fall in love with pushing myself—trying to unravel the secrets of solar system formation. I also wish to thank Professor Peter Hoppe at Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie in Mainz, Germany, who opened a panorama of a world of the largest anomalies on the smallest (nano)scales during my postdoctoral tenure by initiating studies related to heavy-element nucleosynthesis in presolar grains. Touching stars is probably a dream of every child, and Professor Ernst Zinner provided me this opportunity by involving me with analyses of a “stardust” sample (NASA’s 81P/Wild 2 cometary sample return mission) at Washington University in St. Louis. Words can never be enough to thank him for the pleasant discussions and time spent with him. Armed with the knowledge, good wishes, and caveats from the stalwarts of the field, I could set up my own laboratory in India and continue working in cosmochemistry.

Last, but not the least, I wish to thank my close-knit family for the unreserved support to help realize my ambition. I express my gratitude to the individuals who supported me and to AGU for endorsing the nomination.

Thank you, once again, for this honor.

—Kuljeet Kaur Marhas, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, India

S. K. Satheesh was awarded the 2017 Devendra Lal Memorial Medal at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 13 December 2017 in New Orleans, La. The medal is for “outstanding Earth and/or space sciences research by a scientist belonging to and working in a developing nation.”



Satheesh is a pioneer in aerosol research. He has made outstanding contributions to our understanding of the climate impact of atmospheric aerosols. He was among the first to demonstrate that there was a significant discrepancy between shortwave radiative heating at the ocean surface and the top of the atmosphere due to light absorbing aerosols. This was a significant finding since prior work had focused mostly on light scattering sulfate aerosols of anthropogenic origin. He then innovatively combined satellite data with field experiments and numerical model simulations to show that aerosols can alter the natural hydrological cycle and cloud properties. As chief mission scientist of several aircraft field campaigns, in his work he has shown the presence and the role of elevated aerosol layers that influence the onset of the Indian monsoon. These elevated aerosol layers over India show strong meridional gradients with increased aerosol warming that have implications for the amount of rainfall over this region. Furthermore, his recent work has shown that black carbon can become elevated to the stratosphere, having serious implications for ozone loss and recovery.

Satheesh continues to impress the community with his creativity by pioneering the design of a small satellite based on multiangle polarization techniques to measure and assess the role of aerosols on climate. He has also developed an angular scattering instrument to study the role of aerosol mixing that is vital for satellite and modeling studies.

Using his ­Aerosol-­Climate Observatory in the Indian Institute of Science and the Center for Climate Excellence in Chitradurga, he trains and mentors the next generation of aerosol scientists.

As a longtime colleague, I am excited that he is the 2017 winner of the Devendra Lal Memorial Medal. His long list of awards and honors bears testimony to his hard work and diligence. Not only is he a tireless worker and a creative aerosol researcher, but also he works with astonishing humility with colleagues all around the world to solve important research problems.

I am looking forward to more exciting breakthroughs from his current and future work.

—Sundar Christopher, University of Alabama in Huntsville


I am delighted to be named as a recipient of the Devendra Lal Memorial Medal and thank AGU for bestowing on me this great honor. I thank Sundar Christopher for nominating me and for the generous citation. I thank others who supported my nomination and the committee members, who assessed the value of my contributions. My research contributions were possible because of the consistent support and encouragement from my colleagues, mentors, students, and collaborators, and I would like to express my deep gratitude to all of them.

I developed my interest in atmospheric science after learning about the Earth’s ionosphere during my undergraduate studies. I pursued my doctoral work at the Space Physics Laboratory, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, with K. Krishna Moorthy as my thesis adviser, and I am grateful to him for being an excellent mentor. I joined the laboratory with a physics background, without knowing much about the Earth’s atmosphere, and learned a lot about aerosols from him. My adviser and the then director of the laboratory, B. V. Krishna Murthy, treated me like a colleague, which was a huge encouragement in shaping my career. I was a postdoc at the Center for Clouds, Chemistry and Climate (C 4 ), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, under V. Ramanathan and his outstanding research team. This provided me an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge about atmospheric radiative transfer from Ram.

I joined the Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, as a faculty member and became part of a creative academic environment. At the institute, J. Srinivasan played an important role in shaping my scientific career. I received generous support for my research from the Indian Space Research Organisation, Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and Divecha Centre for Climate Change. A ­1-year sabbatical at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center with Lorraine Remer and her fantastic team was very productive. I got a rare opportunity to sharpen my knowledge on satellite remote sensing.

Finally, I am grateful to my parents and family for their support over the years. I thank my wife, Deepshikha Singh, and my son, Satdeep, for their constant support, cooperation, and encouragement.

—S. K. Satheesh, Divecha Centre for Climate Change and Centre for Atmosphere and Oceanic Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

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]