University of Minnesota Gate

Professor Larry Edwards receives Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Sciences

CSE professor joins the likes of Thomas Edison and Marie Curie as a Franklin Institute laureate

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (01/27/2023)—University of Minnesota Twin Cities Professor R. Lawrence “Larry” Edwards has been awarded the 2023 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Sciences, one of the highest honors in the field. Edwards is recognized for his contributions to fundamental advances in high-precision methods for dating geologic records of climate change, which have led to a more detailed understanding of the earth’s climate system over the past million years.

The Franklin Institute medals provide “public recognition and encouragement of excellence in science and technology” and are awarded in several fields. Past recipients include esteemed scientists and engineers such as Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and Jane Goodall among many others.

Edwards will receive a $10,000 honorarium and a 14-karat gold medal at the institute’s 2023 awards ceremony and dinner in April.

Edwards is a Regents and Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the University of Minnesota N.H. Winchell School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. He is known worldwide for developing extremely precise methods for measuring the ages of rocks and applying these methods to study climate history and ocean chemistry. His modern uranium-thorium dating methods have been crucial in furthering scientists’ understanding of climate change.

Since 2014, Edwards has consistently appeared on Clarivate Analytics’ list of the most highly cited researchers in the world, meaning he is in the top 1 percent of citation counts in the geosciences field. 

Edwards is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous accolades, including the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, the European Association for Geochemistry’s N.J. Shackleton Medal, and the Geochemical Society’s C.C. Patterson Medal for outstanding research in environmental geochemistry. He is also University of Minnesota's sole Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Edwards earned bachelor’s degrees in earth and planetary sciences and art and architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976, a master’s degree in geological sciences from the University of Michigan in 1986, and his Ph.D. in geochemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1988. After graduation, he joined the University of Minnesota's N.H. Winchell School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (then the Department of Geology and Geophysics) as an assistant professor and has remained here since.

About the Franklin Institute awards

Recognizing extraordinary accomplishments in science and technology since the Institute was founded in 1824, The Franklin Institute Awards remains the oldest comprehensive science and technology awards program in the United States. Honoring extraordinary individuals who shape our world through their groundbreaking achievements in science, engineering, and business, its legacy virtually charts scientific and technological advancement through the past two centuries—from the development of the typewriter to the dawn of quantum computing. The honor roll of more than 2,000 Franklin Institute Awards laureates includes Nikola Tesla, Marie and Pierre Curie, Orville Wright, Thomas Edison, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, Stephen Hawking, Gordon Moore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Blackburn, Steven Squyres, Bill Gates, Dean Kamen, Subra Suresh, Cornelia Bargmann, Jim Allison, and Frances Arnold. To date, 122 laureates are also Nobel Prize recipients.

Learn more about the Franklin Institute awards.

Learn more about the other 2023 Franklin Institute awardees.