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M. Gordon Wolman, Ph.D.

B. Howell Griswold, Jr. Professor of Geography and International Affairs, The Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland

Laureate Video (18.9M)

M. Gordon Wolman

Year: 2006

Subject: Earth Science

Award: Benjamin Franklin

Citation: The 2006 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth & Environmental Science is awarded to Luna Leopold and M. Gordon Wolman for advancing our understanding of how natural and human activities influence landscapes, especially for the first comprehensive explanation of why rivers have different forms and how floodplains develop. Their contributions form the basis of modern water resource management and environmental assessment.

Biographical Information

M. Gordon Wolman--known fondly as "Reds" by friends and associates--has dedicated more than a half-century toward a breadth of environmental achievements. He became fascinated by nature and in particular, water, through the influence of his father, environmental engineer Abel Wolman, a Franklin Institute medallist himself (Dollinger, 1968), who was internationally recognized for his significant contributions to the advancement of sanitation and health throughout the world.

Wolman earned his B.A. at The Johns Hopkins University in 1949 and his M.A. and Ph.D. in geology from Harvard University in 1951 and 1953. He worked for the USGS throughout the 1950s, but by 1958 he had joined the faculty of his alma mater, Johns Hopkins, where he has served ever since, currently as B. Howell Griswold, Jr. Professor of Geography and International Affairs.

Wolman earned recognition for his considerable talents even as a young Ph.D. in 1957. He was named recipient of the Award of the Joint Engineering and Architects Societies of Washington, D.C., given to outstanding young scientists in the Washington area. This award was followed by numerous other honors and awards, including the Meritorious Contribution Award and Distinguished Career Award from the Association of American Geographers; the John Wesley Powell Award from the USGS; and the Distinguished Mentor and the Cullum Geographical Medal from the Council of the American Geographical Society. Wolman is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Geophysical Union.