Vetlesen Prize graphic

Professor Emeritus David Kohlstedt receives Vetlesen Prize, the ‘Nobel Prize of Earth Sciences’

CSE professor will receive $250,000 prize for achievements in understanding the Earth and its history

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (01/25/2023)—University of Minnesota Twin Cities Professor Emeritus David Kohlstedt has been awarded the Vetlesen Prize, one of the highest honors in Earth sciences and considered to be the field’s Nobel Prize equivalent. The award honors an individual’s “scientific achievement resulting in a clearer understanding of the Earth, its history, or its relation to the Universe.”

Kohlstedt, a Professor Emeritus in the University of Minnesota N.H. Winchell School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, is internationally renowned for his research on rock deformation processes and the physics and chemistry of minerals. His pioneering experiments have shown how processes at inaccessible depths drive what happens on the planet's surface.

Kohlstedt is invited to give the Vetlesen Lecture and will receive a $250,000 prize and gold medal at Columbia University in April 2023.

He and his research group at the University of Minnesota are widely recognized for demonstrating why plate tectonics take place on Earth. Most geologic processes on the Earth’s surface—the rise of mountain ranges, opening of ocean basins, eruption of volcanoes, shaking of earthquakes—have their origins far below, in the hot, malleable region known as the mantle. But, the mantle is too remote for humans to directly observe.

Professor Emeritus David Kohlstedt and his lab staff
In addition to his research, Professor Emeritus Kohlstedt (front) has prepared others to continue a legacy of teaching and mentorship in the Rock and Mineral Physics Lab at the University of Minnesota. Professor Lars Hansen (left), who now leads the lab, current lab researcher Amanda Dillman (second from right), and recently retired research professor Mark Zimmerman (far right) are all former graduate students advised by Kohlstedt. Photo credit: Rich Ryan

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