The 2021 Robert Wilhelm Bunsen Medal is awarded to Urs Schaltegger in recognition of his fundamental advances in geochronology applied to petrology, geochemistry, mineralogy, and tectonics.
During his entire career, Urs Schaltegger has pushed the frontiers of precision and accuracy of U-Pb zircon geochronology by isotope dilution thermal ionization mass spectrometry. His improvements in this ever-evolving technique have opened a rich scientific landscape covering an enormous range of applications, from establishing the timing of orogenic magmatic/hydrothermal events, high-resolution temporal reconstruction of magma chamber processes using high-precision zircon petrochronology, and the calibration of the timing of large igneous provinces and extinction events, to the development of novel methodologies in the field of zircon research. Schaltegger has made a huge impact, with many highly cited and seminal papers, in each one of these fields.
Throughout his career, Schaltegger has kept abreast of advances in a very broad range of geological fields; this breadth and depth of knowledge has allowed him to identify crucial questions in geology and petrology. For him, analytical methods have always been tools to solve outstanding geologic problems. His network of collaborators includes researchers from around the entire globe. The list of students and postdoctoral researchers he has supervised, mentored, and advised over the years further testifies to his renowned standing as a both an educator and research peer; many of his former doctoral candidates and postdocs are now themselves highly recognized researchers in their respective fields.
In addition to his intense scientific activity and productivity, Schaltegger has been and is still currently involved in many administrative tasks, on scientific steering committees as well as editorial management of scientific journals at the national and international levels, witnessing his widely recognized managerial and visionary skills.
As a groundbreaking and innovative researcher, successful both in technique development and application to key scientific problems in the Earth sciences, and as a research leader generously supporting others, Schaltegger epitomizes the Bunsen Medal qualities of research excellence, rigour, and collegiality, and is a very worthy recipient of the 2021 Robert Wilhelm Bunsen Award.