Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana University geologist named Sloan Research Fellow

  • Feb. 18, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington geologist Douglas A. Edmonds has been awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has announced. He is one of 126 researchers at 61 U.S. and Canadian universities to receive the award.

Edmonds holds the Robert R. Schrock Professorship in Sedimentary Geology and is an assistant professor of geological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. His research focuses on developing scientific theories and models aimed at understanding how river deltas are created. 

The fate of deltaic coastlines is a pressing environmental problem. River deltas are slowly disappearing as sea level rises, resulting in a net loss of coastal land. And deltas are important: They are the link between land and ocean environments, are ecologically rich and support approximately 15 percent of the world population.

The $50,000 fellowship will further Edmonds’ research on predicting the resilience of deltaic systems to environmental stressors, such as sea-level rise, coastal subsidence and declining sediment supply.

Rudy Slingerland, professor of geology at Penn State University, who nominated Edmonds for the fellowship, said Edmonds is one of the top young researchers studying process-oriented sedimentology and geomorphology in North America or Europe.

"Doug is a natural in this business because he combines a good theoretical understanding of fluid and sediment transport mechanics with an exact, patient approach to numerical modeling," Slingerland said. "He is excellent at field observations too, because he observes critically and thinks about his observations from a quantitative, process perspective." 

Edmonds' most significant contributions have been to untangle the processes that create deltaic land. His research group has pioneered the use of computer models of self-formed delta growth. They found that deltas built from sandy or muddy sediments have different morphologies, land areas, numbers of channels and shoreline configurations. If confirmed by field data, the ideas could help develop restoration schemes that could be "tuned" to maximize newly created land area in places like coastal Louisiana where land is rapidly disappearing.

Sloan Research Fellowships, awarded annually since 1955, are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as the next generation of scientific leaders. They are awarded in the fields of chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, evolutionary and computational molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics.

Past fellows have gone on to notable careers and include such luminaries as physicist Richard Feynman and game theorist John Nash. Forty-two fellows have received a Nobel Prize in their respective field, 16 have won the Fields Medal in mathematics, 13 have won the John Bates Clark Medal in economics, and 63 have received the National Medal of Science.

Candidates must be nominated by fellow scientists, and winning fellows are selected by an independent panel of senior scholars on the basis of independent research accomplishments, creativity and potential for leadership. A complete list of winners is available online.

About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant-making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-president and CEO of the General Motors Corp., the foundation makes grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and economic performance. 

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