Susan E. Trumbore
The 2021 Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky Medal is awarded to Susan E. Trumbore for her outstanding contributions to biogeosciences in general, and in particular for leading the scientific community in quantifying terrestrial carbon turnover using radiocarbon.
Susan E. Trumbore is director at the prestigious Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany. She obtained her PhD in geochemistry from Columbia University under supervision of Wallace Broecker. After a postdoc at the ETH Zürich in Switzerland, she started her work using 14C at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the USA. She held several professorships at the University of California in Irvine, where she established the radiocarbon laboratory, and where she finally held the directorship of the Center for Global Environmental Change Research.
Trumbore has received numerous honors and awards, including the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Earth and Environmental Science in 2018 and the British Ecological Society Marsh Award for Climate Change Research in 2019. She is an elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Geochemical Society of the United States of America. Trumbore is also a member of the Max Planck Society, the US National Academy of Sciences, and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.
Trumbore has pioneered the use of radiocarbon (14C) as a global tracer for the carbon cycle. Her contributions include insightful and incisive use of the “bomb spike” as a tracer to constrain carbon turnover in vegetation and soils, soil fractionation methods to elucidate dynamics of different soil carbon pools, use of observations to inform carbon cycle models, and models to guide observation strategies, as well as recognition of the importance of microorganisms as key drivers of soil carbon cycling. With her extremely collaborative and unselfish work style, Trumbore plays a key role in the global carbon cycle community. She has published more than 270 papers and has an exemplary citation record in high-rank journals, with at least 17 papers having more than 500 citations.
In addition to her scientific contributions to global biogeosciences, Trumbore has tirelessly served the community in a number of ways. For many years she served on several scientific committees of the National Research Council, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Geophysical Union, including as the first president of the Biogeoscience Section. Additionally, Trumbore was editor-in-chief of the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles and is now editor-in-chief of the new open access journal AGU Advances.
It is difficult to think of a more worthy recipient of the 2021 Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky Medal than Susan Trumbore, who truly upholds Vernadsky’s legacy. She has been an amazingly dedicated and unselfish leader for the biogeosciences community through scientific innovation, outstanding communication activities, and community service.