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European Geosciences Union

EGU Louis Agassiz Medal renamed to honour Julia and Johannes Weertman

12 February 2019

The EGU Cryospheric Sciences Division medal, awarded to individuals in recognition of their outstanding scientific contributions to the study of the cryosphere on Earth or elsewhere in the solar system, has changed its name to the Julia and Johannes Weertman Medal. This change aims to highlight the Weertmans joint contribution to the development of the field, both on educational levels as well as basic research.

Olaf Eisen, EGU Cryospheric Sciences Division President, says: “In the view of many glaciologists, Johannes (Hans) Weertman was an outstanding glaciologist and very successful material scientist in general. His wife, Julia, was the first woman to chair a material science department in the US. Together they published the first undergraduate book on dislocation theory, a process of utmost importance for the flow of ice. She also contributed, visibly or invisibly, to many of Hans’ achievements, which include work on sliding, the stability of marine ice sheets and the importance of the height-mass balance feedback for ice sheets. The pioneering numerical experiments on the relation between ice-sheet evolution and climate forcing (Hans was the first to drive an ice-sheet model with Milankovitch insolation variations) place the name Weertman in a different glaciological league. To this comes the mathematical elegance, directness and transparency of the methods of analysis (not making things more complex than necessary), which has always been an inspiration for people in the field.”

Hans Weertman, born in 1925, received his bachelor’s degree and his PhD in physics from the Carnegie Institute of Technology. After that, he was a Fulbright Fellow at École Normale Supérieure in Paris, and later became a professor at Northwestern University. He spent time as a visiting scientist at the Swiss reactor research institute (now Paul Scherrer Institute) and at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. At the time of his death in late 2018, he was Walter P. Murphy Professor Emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University.

Born in 1926, Julia Randall Weertman was the first female student in science and engineering at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, where she obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and her doctorate in science. In 1987, she became chair of Northwestern’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the first woman in the US to hold such a position in an engineering department. At the time of her death in mid 2018, she was Walter P. Murphy Professor Emerita of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University.


Olaf Eisen
EGU Cryospheric Sciences Division President

Özgür Karatekin
Chair of the EGU Awards Committee

Bárbara Ferreira
EGU Media and Communications Manager
Munich, Germany


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