Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Linda Gundersen awarded
with the Geoethics Medal 2019

We are pleased to inform that the Geoethics Medal 2019 of the IAPG has been awarded to Linda Gundersen, scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey, "for her unselfish work and scholarly contributions in leading the advancement in scientific integrity and professional ethics in the geosciences. Gundersen’s transformative work across governmental, academic, non-profit, and private institutions has made her one of the world’s leading authorities in “geoethical” scholarship, policy and practice. Linda Gundersen was one of the early leaders in proactively promoting what is now called geoethics. She created and was first Director of the USGS Office of Science Quality and Integrity, implementing bureau-wide programs in scientific integrity, ethics, publication, research excellence, post-doctoral fellows, youth internships, education, and Tribal relations. Since retiring in 2012 she has dedicated her time to promoting scientific integrity, ethics, and diversity in the geosciences, including leading and/or influencing major ethics policy revisions at the American Geophysical Union, the American Geosciences Institute, The Geological Society of America, and the U.S. National Academies of Sciences. Linda sets the example for highest standard of geoethics service, practice, and scholarly excellence."  

Linda Gundersen began her scientific career at the U.S. Geological Survey, where her geological training was notably combined with ethical approaches to achieve notable results benefiting society. Gundersen's early work in studying radionuclides helped redefined how radon was looked at. Her work also gave the science community a powerful tool to assess radon, leading to the creating of radon potential mapping. Publications such as her "Mapping the radon potential of the United States: Examples from the Appalachians", were used to set policy at the national and state level. This work helped lay the foundation for additional national geohealth assessments in the U.S., and provided positive public examples of applied geoethics. 

Gundersen's scientific leadership lead to further advancement to become the USGS Chief Scientist. In this role she led the implementation of community science databases. She also assembled and led a group of research scientists who were at the cutting edge of their fields and wrote "Geology for a Changing World 2010-2020." This strategic blueprint document further set the stage for basic principles for broader applied geoethics. Geology for a Changing World contains six goals that emphasize many of today's basic principles of "geoethical thinking." To quote from the executive summary of this prophetical 2006 document "These six goals focus on providing the geologic underpinning needed to wisely use our natural resources, understand and mitigate hazards and environmental change, and understand the relationship between humans and the environment." As seen in the above examples, Linda's scientific work consistently demonstrates a strong understanding and promotion scientific ethics and integrity in achieving scientific advancement to meet societal needs. Notably, Gundersen was the founding and inaugural head of the Office of Science Quality, and Integrity at USGS. Additionally, she has been widely recognized for her scientific leadership work through awards such as her election as Fellow of the Geological Society of America and a U.S. Department of Interior Meritorious Service Award for contributions to environmental geology, economic geology, program management and leadership.

Perhaps equally important, Linda has devoted the past decade of her life in being a notable and unrelenting positive force for change in promoting geoethics scholarship, policies, and practice across the scientific community. Linda co-authored or led the development of scientific integrity policies for USGS (2007), Department of Interior (2011), American Geosciences Institute (2015), and the American Geophysical Union (2012 and 2017). Her ethics leadership and influence is also exemplified by her work as editor and an author of the book "Scientific Integrity and Ethics in the Geosciences" (2017). More recently Linda served on the National Academies of Science Committee on the Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Academia whose report Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences, released in June 2018, further extending her influence and knowledge of scientific ethics to additional important issues for today's world that negatively impact our science. Linda has been repeatedly in action! Much of at least the initial development of AGU's ethics efforts were guided by Linda. Her then continued commitment helped develop AGU's current program over several years, which is now providing an influence across scientific societies and expanding further. She led the key task force that led ultimately to AGU's current ethics center and helped develop a wider positive conversation around ethics, diversity, and equity.

Linda's broad understanding of ethics, encompassing diversity to leading practices for data stewardship and more, greatly influenced the broader AGU effort around ethics, equity, open data practices, and culture change, as well as AGU's decision to include harassment and bullying as scientific misconduct. Over the years, she has always been available for and regularly provided advice and input, and has helped on several additional directed projects for AGU or reviewed practices at other institutions through AGU. Linda Gundersen's name is synonymous with advancing ethics education and practice in the geosciences.

Congratulations Linda Gundersen!


Geoethics Medal:

IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics: