The American Geophysical Union’s Volcanology Geochemistry Petrology section has awarded its 2016 Hisashi Kuno Award to Esteban Gazel, assistant professor in the Virginia Tech Department of Geosciences.

The Kuno Award was announced in conjunction with several other honors by the American Geophysical Union. “These awardees/lecture recipients represent some of the most innovative minds in their fields,” stated a union news release. “We recognize their continuing meritorious work and service toward the advancement and promotion of discovery in Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity.”

The early career award honors a recipient’s outstanding contributions to the fields of volcanology, geochemistry, or petrology. The Kuno award is based on the excellence in research arising from work performed up to seven years past a recipient’s earning of his or her doctoral degree. The award is named in honor of Hisashi Kuno, a mid-20th century volcanologist, petrologist, and field geologist who revolutionized volcanology by applying experimental constraints to field observations to explain the evolution of volcanic rocks.

Gazel joined the Virginia Tech College of Science faculty in 2011. His group’s research focuses on processes that produce magmas and volcanoes, and contribute to the planet’s evolution, including mantle melting and the origin of continents. His research group is leading initiatives in understanding deep carbon and water cycles, working on volcanoes around the planet. He is lead author or collaborator on more than 35 scientific publications and lead investigator of four National Science Foundation awards.

“His research involves an integrated approach that connects field observations with geochemical analysis and modeling, with the ultimate goal to answer the big questions in the geologic record, such as the cause and effect of large-scale igneous provinces and their impact on the evolution of Earth,” said Nancy Ross, department head of geosciences. “Gazel is the first faculty member in the geosciences department ever to receive this award.”

“This year’s section and focus group awardees and named lecturers represent some of the brightest scientific minds in Earth and space sciences,” said Margaret Leinen, president of the American Geophysical Union. “It is an incredible achievement to be selected and recognized from among their scientific peer groups and I congratulate Esteban Gazel on this honor and thank him for his contribution to society.”

Among his recent accolades, Gazel was selected to serve on the 2016-17 academic year GeoPRISMS Distinguished Lectureship Program, joining two other academics in the field in visiting U.S. colleges and universities to present technical and public lectures on subjects related to earth sciences.

Gazel earned his bachelor’s degree in 2005 from the University of Costa Rica, and his doctoral degree in 2009 from Rutgers University. He completed post-doctoral work at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Gazel and his fellow awardees will be honored at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Honors Tribute, to be held December 2016 in San Francisco. He also will be delivering the Kuno award lecture at the European Geosciences Union in April 2017 in Vienna, Austria.

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