Professor Teresa Jordan selected for SEPM William H. Twenhofel Medal


Teresa Jordan, the J. Preston Levis Professor of Engineering in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, was selected for the Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM) William H. Twenhofel medal. 

The William H. Twenhofel medal is the highest award given by SEPM and is awarded annually to a person for their “Outstanding Contributions to Sedimentary Geology.” Contributions normally involve extensive personal research and some combination of research, teaching, administration or other activities which have notably advanced knowledge in Sedimentary Geology.

“I am stunned and thrilled. My first professor of sedimentary geology, Gerald Friedman at RPI, and my graduate advisor, William Dickinson at Stanford, were both Twenhofel medalists. While I never expected to be selected for this award, it is very special to me,” says Jordan.

Jordan’s research has spanned from the marine Paleozoic rocks of Utah, to the Cenozoic nonmarine basins of the Andes, where she mostly focused on the stratigraphy at the scale of entire sediment basins. Her current research projects center on geothermal energy in the Appalachian foreland basin, and the responses of the surface and groundwater resources to rare rain events in the Atacama Desert.

“My habit has been to tackle research problems for which study of sedimentary rocks supported solving a problem that was not itself related to sedimentation,” says Jordan. “This strategy led to my years of collaboration in the Cornell Andes Project unraveling tectonic history, to a long detour into documenting the climate history of the Atacama Desert region, and recently to applying geological methods to the assessment of the viability of geothermal energy from Appalachian Basin rocks.”

Professor Jordan has made a number of notable achievements since joining the Cornell faculty in 1984. She served as the Chair of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from 2003-2008 and, earlier, as the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs in the College of Engineering at Cornell. Jordan is a central geological contributor to Cornell’s Earth Source Heat project, which is an enhanced geothermal energy system that aims to use Earth’s internal heat to warm the Cornell campus. The courses she routinely teaches or co-teaches, including Evolution of the Earth System, Stratigraphy, and Sedimentary Basins, bring to Cornell’s students the disciplinary themes on which SEPM focuses.

“My collaborators have been numerous and broad and, frankly, the joy of working with stimulating and fun collaborators sometimes was the reason I chose certain projects,” says Jordan. “This habit of applying sedimentary geology thinking – which is my passion – to solve problems in collaboration with other disciplines fits the history of the SEPM. Maybe that is why I was selected.”

Jordan is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America and is a Fulbright Scholar. Jordan has won such awards as an NSF Award for Women Faculty in Science and Engineering and the Lawrence Sloss Award given by the Sedimentary Geology Division of the Geological Society of America.

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