John Southard

Professor Emeritus

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Prominent geologist and educator known for significant insights into the intricacies of movement of sediment by currents and waves.

A specialist in geomorphology and sedimentology, John B. Southard received his undergraduate degree from MIT in 1960 and his doctorate in geology from Harvard University in 1966. After a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology, he returned to MIT to join the faculty, where he remained throughout his career.

A dedicated educator, Southard was awarded the MIT School of Science teaching prize in 1989 and was one of the first MIT MacVicar Faculty Fellows, a prestigious Institute honor given in recognition of excellence in undergraduate teaching. He has taught numerous undergraduate courses in introductory geology, sedimentary geology, field geology, and environmental science both at MIT and in Harvard’s adult education program. He was also a prolific chief content editor for the American Geosciences Institute’s curriculum projects, developing books and materials to engage students in Earth sciences. As a result, he was recognized in 2001 with the Neil Miner Award from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers.

Among other awards in his long career, in 2014 Southard was honored with the Society of Sedimentary Geology Twenhofel Medal for a “career of excellence in sedimentary geology”, the SEPM’s highest honor. He was editor of the Journal of Sedimentary Petrology from 1992 to 1996, and has been a contributing editor to the Journal of Sedimentary Research. He continues to do technical editing of scientific books and papers for SEPM.