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Luna Leopold

Ian Campbell Award goes to Luna Leopld

November 9, 2000

Reno, NV - The American Geological Institute (AGI) will present its most prestigious award, the Ian Campbell Medal, to Luna Leopold, former Chief Hydrologist of the U.S. Geological Survey and a scientist credited with leading "a complete revolution in [the] understanding of streams and their landscapes." The award will be presented during the Geological Society of America (GSA) Presidential Awards Ceremony in Reno.

"Luna Leopold is among the most distinguished earth scientists of the last half century, and his influence and accomplishments in hydrogeology are recognized throughout the world," says AGI Executive Director Marcus E. Milling. "During his tenure as Chief Hydrologist of the USGS, he transformed the Water Resources Division into the nation's premier agency for water research." From the outset, his work was creative, pioneering, and multidisciplinary - reflecting an educational path that began with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, continued with a master's degree in physics and meteorology, and concluded with a Ph.D. in geology.

Leopold is the son of Aldo Leopold, one of the early leaders of the movement to preserve the American wilderness. Luna Leopold has combined his father's land ethic with a deep understanding of rivers - their past and future, and their relationship to humans. He is both a scientist and a conservationist, having served on the Sierra Club's Board of Directors and on the Board of Directors of the Environmental Law Institute.

But it was during his 22-year career in the Water Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey that Leopold had the most profound impact on the earth sciences. His paper, "The Hydraulic Geometry of Stream Channels," published in 1953, initiated a new era of the quantitative study of rivers and stimulated quantitative approaches in the broader field of geomorphology. Revealing an orderly framework of river behavior, the paper provided a basis for observing rivers worldwide through objective measurements and data collection. His 1964 book, Fluvial Processes in Geomorphology , co-written with M. Gordon "Reds" Wolman and John Miller, changed the face of fluvial geomorphology by introducing quantitative analysis into the science of landform analysis. For his scientific contributions, he received the National Medal of Science in 1991.

After retiring from the U.S. Geological Survey in 1972, Leopold became a professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics and the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. He is now professor emeritus at UC-Berkeley.

Leopold is the recipient of awards too numerous to mention in full. These honors include the Distinguished Service Medal, U.S. Department of the Interior; Warren Prize, National Academy of Sciences; Robert E. Horton Medal, American Geophysical Union; and the Penrose Medal, Geological Society of America. He is a Fellow in the Geological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, California Academy of Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and several other professional scientific societies, and is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.

The AGI Medal in memory of Ian Campbell, President of the Institute in 1961, is awarded to a person who exemplifies the accomplishments and widespread influence of that remarkable geoscientist. Accepting the award on Dr. Leopold's behalf at the GSA Presidential Awards Ceremony on Nov. 12 will be his citationist, Dr. Stephen G. Wells, President of the Desert Research Institute. Leopold will be able to attend the Friends of AGI Awards Reception on Tuesday evening, Nov. 14, where he will receive a plaque from the American Geological Institute. The AGI reception and awards ceremony takes place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Carson Room of the Reno Hilton Hotel.

The American Geological Institute is a nonprofit federation of 35 geoscientific and professional associations that represent more than 100,000 geologists, geophysicists, and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in our profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in mankind's use of resources and interaction with the environment. More information about AGI can be found The Institute also provides a public-outreach web site,


More Information about Luna B. Leopold

"A distinguished academic at the University of California, Berkeley, and former chief hydrologist at the US Geological Survey, Leopold offers as succinct a treatise on the principles and practice of hydrology as you could imagine...This is the kind of book students yearn for but seldom find." --The Times Higher

Concerned with water resources throughout his career, Luna B. Leopold has at last brought together over forty years of experience to produce Water, Rivers and Creeks, a nontechnical primer on hydrology and water resources. As an expert engineer, meteorologist, environmentalist and geologist, few individuals could provide the breadth of coverage with the insightful brevity that characterize this introduction to water. By integrating the basics of hydrology and geomorphology with the practical formulation of policy, this book is intended for the general public, students of environmental studies, legislators, policy makers, and all others who are interested in the use, control, and management of water.


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