Prestigious Guggenheim awarded to University of Minnesota Geology and Geophysics Professor

Contacts: Ryan Mathre, University News Service,, (612) 625-0552

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (04/09/2009) —University of Minnesota geology and geophysics Professor R. Lawrence Edwards has received a prestigious 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship in the 85th annual U.S. and Canadian competition sponsored by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Edwards was chosen from a group of nearly 3,000 applicants.

Edwards, who is the George and Orpha Gibson Chair of Earth Systems Science and a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for his work on climate change. He is well-known for his role in developing modern uranium-thorium dating methods, which he uses to fix the timeline of climate history. By establishing patterns of past climate change, he has furthered the world’s understanding of the causes of climate change. His approaches have been used to determine the timing of the ice age cycles and to improve the accuracy of radiocarbon dating. 

Using cave deposits as recorders of the timing and nature of climate history, Edwards and his large international group of collaborators are currently working on piecing together hundreds of thousands of years of Asian Monsoon history from caves in China. Through innovative strategies, he has established patterns of changing climate in time and space by relating his cave climate histories to those from ocean sediments and from ice cores. This work has helped to characterize and understand the causes of abrupt climate change, rapid shifts (in some cases less than a decade), which altered climate dramatically over much of the globe.  The research is profiled at

Edwards’ career achievements have been recognized with a number of awards. In 1999, he was awarded the C.C. Patterson Medal by the Geochemical Society for outstanding research in environmental geochemistry. In 2004, he was elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2008, he was elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union and was also honored as the first recipient of the N.J. Shackleton Medal by the European Association for Geochemistry. With 150 published journal articles—more than 20 in the journals Science and Nature—Edwards is among the most highly cited earth scientists in the world.

"Larry Edwards is among our finest scholars and he amply deserves the important national recognition of a Guggenheim Fellowship for his wide-ranging and extraordinary achievements. This award underscores the remarkable breadth and depth of faculty at the University of Minnesota. On behalf of the university I congratulate him,” said Steven Crouch, Dean of the Institute of Technology, the University of Minnesota’s college of engineering, physical sciences and mathematics.

The 2009 Fellowship winners include 180 artists, scholars, and scientists who were selected based on stellar achievement and exceptional promise for continued accomplishment. Decisions are based on recommendations from hundreds of expert advisors and are approved by the Guggenheim Foundation’s board of trustees. What distinguishes the Guggenheim Fellowship program from all others is the wide range in interest, age, geography and institution of those it selects as it considers applications in 75 different fields, from the natural sciences to the creative arts. The new Fellows include writers, playwrights, painters, sculptors, photographers, film makers, choreographers, physical and biological scientists, social scientists and scholars in the humanities.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation was founded in 1925 by Mr. and Mrs. Simon Guggenheim in memory of their son, who died April 26, 1922. The organization awards Guggenheim Fellowships to professionals who have demonstrated exceptional ability by publishing a significant body of work in the fields of natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and the creative arts, excluding the performing arts.

The full list of 2009 Fellows may be viewed at

Tags: Institute of Technology