Professor Kevin Burke Chosen to Receive 2014 Arthur Holmes Medal
Most Prestigious Solid Earth Scientist Award of the European Geosciences Union
The European Geosciences Union (EGU) named Kevin C. A. Burke, professor of geology in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, as recipient of the 2014 Arthur Holmes Medal & Honorary Membership. Burke has been a professor in University of Houston’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics since 1983.
The Arthur Holmes Medal is one of the three most prestigious awards from EGU and recognizes Burke's exceptional contributions in the area of solid earth geosciences and plate tectonics. In 2007, he received the top honor of the Geological Society of America – the Penrose medal – also for his original contributions in the area of plate tectonics.
Born and raised in London, Burke received a Ph.D. in geology from the University of London based on a mapping and radiometric study of igneous rocks in western Ireland. Following his graduation, he held academic appointments in Gold Coast and Ghana, West Africa, the Geological Survey of Great Britain, Jamaica, and Nigeria. Burke was a professor at the University of Toronto in the early 1970s where he worked closely with J. Tuzo Wilson, one of the earliest proponents of plate tectonics.
From 1973 to 1982, he was a professor at the State University of New York in Albany (SUNY) where he collaborated with fellow professor John F. Dewey publishing a series of seminal papers on the origin of rifts, hotspots, sutures and other outcomes of moving plates on a spherical Earth.
During this time, he mentored or supervised two SUNY graduate students how are currently UH geology professors, Jack Casey, a former chairman of the department, and Paul Mann, who joined the department in 2011. Burke also worked closely with Professor Mark Harrison who stayed on at SUNY after Burke’s departure and supervised the Ph.D. dissertation of Peter Copeland, now an associate professor on the UH geology faculty.
In the 1980s, Burke served as the Director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston and was influential in designing many of NASA’s Earth and planetary studies.
Burke’s active research focuses on how rocks at the Earth’s surface relate to structures at the core/mantle boundary, the long-term stability of which he began to demonstrate a decade ago. He also teaches courses on plate tectonics and basins, continues to mentor UH graduate students, and works closely with other UH faculty members on a variety of projects.
His 197 publications cover a wide range of topics including plate tectonics, planetary geology, paleomagnetism, and Caribbean and Himalayan geology, and have been collectively cited over 10,000 times by other authors.
The European Geosciences Union is a nonprofit international union of scientists with over 12,500 members from all over the world. It is Europe's premier geosciences union, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the geosciences and the planetary and space sciences for the benefit of humanity, worldwide.
Burke will receive his medal and award in the spring at the EGU 2014 General Assembly in Vienna. The list of previous winners of the Arthur Holmes Medal is available at this link: http://www.egu.eu/awards-medals/arthur-holmes/ .