March 5, 2009
Vol. 28 No. 11

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    Clayton adds Smith Medal to his honors

    By Steve Koppes
    News Office

    Photo by Dan Dry

    Robert Clayton

    The accolades to Robert Clayton’s career continue to mount. The National Academy of Sciences will award the J. Lawrence Smith Medal for investigations of meteoric bodies to Clayton, the Enrico Fermi Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Chemistry, Geophysical Sciences and the College, at the academy’s annual meeting on Sunday, April 26 in Washington, D.C.

    Clayton has pioneered the use of oxygen isotopes—chemical fingerprints found in meteorites and lunar rocks—in understanding the processes that formed the planets and asteroids early in the history of the solar system.

    His studies have provided surprising evidence supporting the theory that the moon was part of the Earth until a collision with another planet-sized object blasted them apart, and have helped identify the first lunar meteorite.

    Clayton previously received the 2004 National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest scientific honor. Now he joins three former Chicago faculty members and four alumni who have received the Smith Medal since 1957:

    • 2000, the late George Wetherill (Ph.B.,’48, S.B.,’48, S.M.,’51, Ph.D.,’53), formerly of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
    • 1985, Gerald Wasserburg (Ph.D.,’54), the Crafoord Laureate and John D. MacArthur professor of geology and geophysics emeritus, California Institute of Technology.
    • 1973, the late Clair Patterson (Ph.D.,’51), formerly of the California Institute of Technology.
    • 1971, Edward Anders, the Horace B. Horton Professor Emeritus in Chemistry and the College.
    • 1967, the late John Reynolds (S.M.,’48, Ph.D.,’50), formerly of the University of California, Berkeley.
    • 1962, the late Harold Urey, the former Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor in Chemistry at Chicago and 1934 Nobel laureate in chemistry.
    • 1957, the late Mark Inghram (Ph.D.,’47), the former Samuel Allison Distinguished Service Professor in Physics.