Contact: Julie Jackson (703) 379-2480
November 2, 2001

Science Writer John Noble Wilford Receives Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Understanding of the Geosciences

ALEXANDRIA,VA — The American Geological Institute (AGI) will present its prestigious Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Understanding of the Geosciences to renowned science writer and science correspondent John Noble Wilford. The award ceremony will take place during AGI’s Past Presidents Dinner on Sunday, November 4, at the Sheraton Boston Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts.

    Mr. Wilford is a senior writer and editor for The New York Times specializing in space science and exploration. He has covered all the major space programs, including the Apollo moon landings, the space shuttle, and missions to other planets. He also writes extensively on paleontology, archaeology, and other scientific topics. Mr. Wilford received the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for his science writing and again in 1987 as a member of the team that covered the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle and the aftermath of the disaster.

    As a science reporter, Mr. Wilford travels throughout the world to get his stories. He has worked with a field crew mapping the Grand Canyon, journeyed to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia in search of fossils, and plunged into the ocean in a research submarine. While investigating the Apollo missions, Mr. Wilford operated lunar-landing and space-shuttle simulators. He also flew through the eye of a hurricane to learn about cloud seeding.

    Mr. Wilford is the author of numerous books including The Mapmakers, first published in 1981. A revised edition of this book, which tells the story of cartography, was released last year. Other works by Mr. Wilford include The Riddle of the Dinosaur, an account of how dinosaurs were discovered and the theories of their rise and fall; Mars Beckons: The Mysteries, the Challenges, the Expectations of Our Next Great Adventure in Space; and The Mysterious History of Columbus: An Exploration of the Man, the Myth, the Legacy. His first book, We Reach the Moon, was published in 1969 and won the 1970 book award of the Aviation Space Science Writers Association.

    A writer for nearly 50 years, Mr. Wilford began his career in 1956 as a general assignment reporter for The Wall Street Journal and later was a contributing editor at Time magazine. In early 1965, he began writing the science section for The New York Times and produced several cover stories. During his tenure as director of science news responsible for managing the coverage of science, medicine, and technology, The New York Times created its weekly “Science Times” section which still appears every Tuesday. Over the years, Mr. Wilford held various editorial and managerial positions at The New York Times before he returned to full-time science reporting.

    The American Geological Institute is a nonprofit federation of 37 geoscientific and professional associations that represent more than 120,000 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 at The Institute also provides a public-outreach web site,

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