Member Since 1983
Everett Shock
Professor, Arizona State University
Honors and Awards

Eunice Newton Foote Medal for Earth-Life Science
Received December 2023
Everett Shock is an exceptionally unique and creative leader at the intersection of Earth and life sciences, unfailingly committed to driving collaborations among researchers from geoscience, chemistry and biology. The hallmark of Everett’s science is the use of fundamental, but sophisticated, geochemical insights to answer first-order questions about habitability and the evolution and distribution of metabolisms, focused on extreme environments on Earth and other worlds. This work yielded — and continues to yield — profound new insights in biogeochemistry.

Beginning in his Ph.D. years, Everett transformed our understanding of chemistry in waters at high temperatures and pressures, setting the stage for our modern understanding of life in extreme conditions on Earth and on other worlds. Building on this fundamental work, Everett challenged and changed our views on the origin of life. He was the first to predict, with rigorous thermodynamic models, that large, complex organic molecules can be synthesized in high-temperature aqueous settings. This prediction set the stage for a revolution in the field. Everett worked with countless students and co-workers to adopt his thermodynamics-first approach to understand the chemical reactions shaping the conditions for life in extreme environments, ranging from submarine hydrothermal systems to the Martian crust and the icy moons of the outer solar system.

Expanding into experimental work, Everett developed collaborations that provided novel insights into how organic compounds react at hydrothermal conditions. Finally, Everett extended his interest in biology in hydrothermal systems through pioneering work into how the microbes that survive in these hostile settings get the energy they need to thrive. At the heart of this research are rigorous thermodynamic analyses of the energy available to chemoautotrophic microbes in hydrothermal systems, focusing especially on the varied environments of Yellowstone National Park. This entire area has become fundamental to astrobiological exploration of Europa and Enceladus, and so Everett is increasingly involved in NASA mission efforts.

Everett is also an exceptional mentor, inspiring a distinctive school of thought that shares his perspectives. He is generous with his time and ideas, thriving on interactions with postdocs and research students, undergraduate and graduate, launching many on to productive academic careers. Everett’s past contributions are remarkable, and he continues to build a living legacy into the future. It is hard to think of a worthier candidate for the Eunice Newton Foote Medal for Earth-Life Science.

— Ariel Anbar
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona
I am honored to receive the Eunice Newton Foote Medal. If only we could all be as clever and farsighted as she was. She worked at a time when women were discouraged from being scientists, and her pioneering contributions to atmospheric chemistry remind us that science needs everyone. This award recognizes contributions at the intersection of Earth and life sciences and gives me a chance to say what a pleasure and a privilege it has been to explore the conceptual and physical territories where geological and biological processes meet. Geochemistry is a rich realm for pondering consequences and responses of diverse natural processes that almost always happen simultaneously and superimposed. It takes time and contemplation, spurred on by urgency and spiced by distraction, to even begin to see what is apparently right before us. I have had a great deal of help along the way, especially from the brilliant students and postdocs I’ve had the joy to work with. Our interests have wandered from deep crustal fluids to oil reservoirs to submarine hydrothermal systems to continental hot springs and serpentinization at Earth’s surface. Along the way, we realized that the natural systems we can actively explore are inhabited, and we endlessly yearn for the chance to talk with the microbes and learn what they know. We have tried to extrapolate from systems we can see and touch to those beyond our reach on the early Earth and deep inside ocean worlds. In doing so we know that the biochemistry we have is one the Earth allows and wonder how to extrapolate from that single data point. I had excellent training in pondering elusive problems with my graduate adviser, the late Hal Helgeson, as we tried to predict how thermodynamics would drive reactions among water, minerals and organic compounds throughout Earth’s crust. I’ve also had tremendously rich collaborations with people who know more than I ever will about extracting thermodynamic data from experiments, silicate melts, planets and moons, microbial biochemistry, mantle petrology, genetic diversity, isotope fractionation, and organic reaction mechanisms. Their intuitions are irreproducible and priceless and provide powerful guidance through the unknown. Ultimately, it is the students who have pushed the research frontiers; argued with me; tolerated my rants and anxieties; rebuilt analytical equipment; generated brilliant computer code; avoided grizzly bears; and kept working through the rain, hail and snow. It is wonderful to share this award with them.— Everett Shock, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
See Details
Close Details
Union Fellow
Received January 2005