Biogeochemist Receives High Honor

UC Riverside’s Timothy Lyons is named a 2015 Geochemical Fellow in recognition of major contributions to geochemistry

Timothy Lyons is a distinguished professor of biogeochemistry at UC Riverside. Photo credit: Sarah Simpson.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Timothy Lyons, a distinguished professor of biogeochemistry in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, has been named a 2015 Geochemical Fellow by the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry.  The honorary title is awarded to outstanding scientists who have made major contributions to the field of geochemistry.

“We are delighted that Tim has been named a Geochemical Fellow,” said David Oglesby, the chair of the Department of Earth Sciences. “Tim’s biogeochemical research on the evolution of our ocean and atmosphere has revolutionized his field, and is a source of tremendous pride for all of us in the Department of Earth Sciences at UC Riverside.  We are very happy that he and his work are receiving the recognition they so richly deserve.”

Lyons, his research group, and UCR colleagues explore the evolving compositions of the early atmosphere and oceans.  Their recent work reveals that the initial rise of oxygen may have been protracted — occurring in fits and starts rather than a single step — and that once permanently present in the atmosphere, oxygen likely rose to very high levels and then plummeted.

Lyons’s primary research themes are astrobiology, marine geochemistry, geobiology, biogeochemical cycles through time, and Earth history and paleoclimatology. His career-long interests in anoxic marine environments, early atmospheric oxygenation, and co-evolving life have inspired the development and refinement of diverse geochemical tracers in modern settings for exploration of the ancient ocean and atmosphere and the search for life beyond Earth.

He has been on the faculty at UCR since 2005. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Geochemical Society and the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award. He has been a visiting scholar at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research, the University of Queensland, the University of Tasmania (Comet Fellow, 2010), the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (Hanse-Wissenschafts-Kolleg Fellow, 2007-2008), Cambridge University (Leverhulme Visiting Professorship, 2011), the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2012), the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (2013), Rhodes University in South Africa (Hugh Kelly Research Fellow, 2014), and Yale University (Visiting Fellow, 2015). He was the first Agassiz Lecturer at Harvard University and a recipient of the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence at the University of Missouri.

Lyons has served on numerous steering and organizing committees, including service to the Goldschmidt Conference of the Geochemical Society, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, and funding panels spanning four programs within the National Science Foundation (NSF) and four within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He is chair of the Geochemistry Committee of the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society and works frequently with international funding agencies, including long-standing membership in the College of Reviewers of the Canada Research Chairs Program. He was previously a member of two research teams within the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) and has helped steer the new NASA Astrobiology Roadmap. He is leader of the new ‘Alternative Earths’ NAI team at UC Riverside and a member of the NAI Executive Council. Lyons was also a member of the U.S. National Research Council Committee on New Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences at the U.S. National Science Foundation.

He has served in ten editorial positions, including a long-standing affiliation with Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta and recent service to Global Biogeochemical Cycles and Earth and Planetary Science Letters, and he has served on advisory boards with the American Geological Union and Cambridge University Press. He is active within the Agouron Institute and the Southern California geobiology community. He has also co-organized 22 symposia at international conferences and co-organized and/or participated in 31 workshops (NSF, NASA, etc.) and has given almost 100 invited lectures in addition to those at conferences since 2005.

Lyons is a frequent invited/keynote speakers and has nearly 175 peer reviewed publications spanning topics in astrobiology, biogeochemistry, isotope geochemistry, oceanography, paleoceanography, Earth history, and diverse themes in geology. He has supervised 27 graduate students and 10 postdocs as primary mentor and often serves on external examining committees.

Lyons received a B.S. with honors in geological engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, an M.S. in geology from the University of Arizona, and an M.Phil. and Ph.D. in geology/geochemistry from Yale University, followed by postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan.

He is one of 10 scientists named 2015 Geochemical Fellows.  They will receive their honor at the 2015 Goldschmidt Conference in Prague, Czech Republic.

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