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James L. Best

James L. Best
James L. Best

The 2018 Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal is awarded to James L. Best for major contributions to our understanding of physical sedimentary processes and their products in the geological record.

James Best received his doctoral degree in 1985 from University of London, UK, and, in a career now spanning four decades, he has consistently published breakthrough work of the highest quality, spearheading the development and application of many new techniques within sedimentology and Earth surface geophysical fluid dynamics. He is a globally renowned expert in a number of fields, including bedform and flow dynamics and open channel hydraulics and coherent flow structure. He has succinctly quantified alluvial architecture through field and laboratory studies. Since 2006, he is the Threet Professor of Sedimentary Geology and Professor of Geography at the University of Illinois, USA.

Best is an eminent scientist, known by many and respected by all. He has an outstanding research track record, publishing more than 130 journal papers, more than 50 refereed book chapters and editing four books. He has advised over 35 PhD and 10 master students and has received funds to support 24 postdoctoral research fellows. He has organised six major international conferences including timely meetings on braided rivers and coherent flow structures that resulted in benchmark books co-edited by Best. His work has established major paradigm shifts in the field of physical sedimentology. These include: a new model of flow at river channel confluences, a comprehensive model for the origin of turbulence associated with sand dunes, realisations of the influence of suspended sediment on the dynamics of flow and the modulation of turbulence, the provision of a new flow-bedform stability diagram that has application within many sedimentary environments, and the production of the most comprehensive facies model to date for the architecture of large alluvial braid bars.

Best is a global ambassador for flow dynamics and sedimentology. He was Principal Editor of the journal, Sedimentology (1998-2002), and is Series Editor for Developments in Sedimentology for Elsevier. He has served on US National Science Foundation grant panels, the UK Natural Environment Research Council Peer Review College, and has been external examiner for PhD theses in several countries. He is a regular conference session organiser, chair and presenter. He has received prestigious fellowships from the Royal Society, Nuffield Foundation and Leverhulme Trust (all in the UK) and was awarded the Gordon Warwick Award from the British Geomorphological Research Group in 1994 for his outstanding contribution to geomorphological research by a scientist under the age of 35. He was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2015. Fundamentally, he has been instrumental in redefining the relationship between flow and sediment transport in a range of scales and environments

Best is a worthy recipient of the EGU 2018 Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal for his important and lasting contributions to our understanding of physical sedimentary processes and all the reasons listed above.