Baylor Geosciences Professor to Receive International Award for Desert Research

September 17, 2019
Forman Award for Desert Research

Members of Baylor Geosciences Professor Steve Forman's research group: Top row (L to R) - Chris Dicky (undergraduate), Tori Todd (graduate student), Connor Mayhack (graduate student) Zequn Wu (graduate student) and Liang Peng (graduate student). Front row (L to R) - Dr. Steve Forman and Liliana Marin (geosciences instrumentation specialist).

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WACO, Texas (Sept. 17, 2019) – Steven L. Forman, Ph.D., professor of geosciences and director of the Geoluminescence Dating Research Laboratory at Baylor University, will receive the international Farouk El-Baz Award for Desert Research from the Geological Society of America, becoming only the 21st scientist to receive the award. The GSA will present Forman with the award during the organization’s meeting Sept. 23 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Established in 1999 by the GSA Foundation and administered by the GSA’s Division of Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology, the Farouk El-Baz Award is given annually to a scientist in recognition of an outstanding body of work in the field of desert research and to encourage young scientists to strive for excellence in desert research. Renowned space scientist and geologist Farouk El-Baz, Ph.D., Research Professor and Director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University, contributed the initial endowment for the award.

“I have the humble honor of receiving this International Award for Desert Research from GSA by the good tidings of colleagues from North and South America and China,” Forman said. “This award recognizes the research I have completed with a bevy of colleagues, post-doctoral scholars and graduate students, and many share in this recognition, particularly the department of geosciences at Baylor. I am fortunate to work with such intellectually open and pluralistic colleagues from many countries, which propels research and discovery.”

Forman will receive the award for his research deciphering the history of eolian (wind) activity, including dune movement and lake level changes in North and South America, China, Russia and Africa, which are bellwethers of climate change.

“A keystone of this research is a better understanding of the response of arid and semiarid landscapes, with climate change, in the recent past, currently and into a greenhouse gas-dominated future,” Forman said. “We are currently witnessing an expansion of deserts globally with 20th and 21st century global warming.”

The award focuses on warm deserts rather than polar deserts, since desert landforms have not received as much attention by geologists as other types of landforms, El-Baz said. “We need to encourage and reward arid land studies,” he said.

“Dr. Steve Forman is a world-renowned researcher with research interests centered on gaining new understanding of the progression and mechanisms of environmental and climate change in the past 250,000 years of Earth’s history,” said Steven G. Driese, Ph.D., professor and interim chair of geosciences in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences and associate dean for research in the Graduate School.

“Dr. Forman has dedicated his career to the study of Quaternary geomorphic and climatic change from deserts to the Arctic, and it is in deserts and semiarid regions where his research has been most impactful,” he said. “With more than 9,300 citations (according to Google Scholar), Dr. Forman’s stellar publication record documents his wide-reaching and collaborative research endeavors. Dr. Forman is deserving of this award for several reasons, including his extensive research related to eolian activity and documentation of past droughts.”


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