Geochemist Albarède wins Nemmers Prize

By Linda Welzenbach
Special to Rice News

Geochemist Francis Albarède, the Wiess Visiting Professor in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, has been awarded the inaugural Nemmers Prize in Earth Sciences by Northwestern University. The award includes a $200,000 cash prize.

Francis Albarède

Francis Albarède

Albarède, emeritus professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France, and a regular visitor to Rice since 2008, is a pioneer in the use of unconventional stable isotopes as markers of natural processes and has explored the use of isotopic tracers in applications as diverse as archeology, history, biology and medicine. The Nemmers Prize recognizes “his fundamental applications of geochemistry to Earth sciences.”

Albarède’s work with Rice faculty members Cin-Ty Lee and Rajdeep Dasgupta has helped shift conventional thinking about the chemical behavior of Earth’s early mantle and also helped confirm the status of water and other volatile molecules in the moon.

The lucrative biennial Nemmers Prizes were established in 1994 to recognize works of lasting significance in the fields of mathematics and economics. A prize for music composition was added in 2004, and Rice University trustee Huda Zoghbi won the inaugural Nemmers Prize for Medical Science in 2016. Zoghbi is a professor of pediatrics, molecular and human genetics, neurology and neuroscience and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Baylor College of Medicine. She also is the director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital.

–Linda Welzenbach is a science writer in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Rice.

About Jade Boyd

Jade Boyd is science editor and associate director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.