Wysession wins Geosciences in the Media Award

The honor recognizes Wysession’s notable journalistic contributions to the public understanding of geology and energy resources.


Michael Wysession, professor of Earth and planetary sciences, was recently named the winner of the 2021 Geosciences in the Media Award of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the world’s largest society of professional geologists. This honor recognizes Wysession’s many achievements in promoting geoscience literacy and education, including his contributions to the Great Courses video lecture series.

Wysession has authored three popular video lecture series as part of the Teaching Company’s Great Courses series: How the Earth Works, The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders, and The Science of Energy. He was also a co-lecturer on National Geographic Polar Explorations. These courses have been watched by hundreds of thousands of people and are regularly used in high schools and community colleges around the world.

Wysession has also had a major impact on K-12 education in the United States. He chaired the NSF’s Earth Science Literacy Initiative, which created a single framework for shared geoscience understanding for American students. Over the past decade, this framework has informed both legislation and national K-12 science education standards. 

As the Chair of Earth and Space Science for both the National Academy of Science report A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the ensuing Next Generation Science Standards, Wysession has helped guide the writing of innovative K-12 science standards. These standards have been adopted by 45 states, revolutionizing primary and secondary science education.

In addition to his work on science literacy and education standards, Wysession has coauthored eight science textbook programs at all levels from elementary school through graduate school, served as an editor of five geophysical journals, and written numerous articles for popular science journals, reaching millions of students, peers, and interested readers.

“It is a real honor to be listed among such outstanding company,” said Wysession, noting that past recipients of the award include luminaries such as Walter Sullivan, Stephen Jay Gould, David Attenborough, and John McPhee. “Especially Walter Sullivan, who was the creator and first editor of The New York Times’ Tuesday Science Times section and my high school idol. To be honored alongside him in this way is really something special for me.”