EAS Professor Simon Brassell has been elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). This honor, bestowed on only 0.1% of AGU's more than 60,000 members, was given to Simon for his "pioneering work on using molecular geochemistry for the study of ancient climates and the genesis of hydrocarbons."
Simon was one of the original developers of "molecular stratigraphy", the study of the abundance of biomarkers in sedimentary rock sequences. He brought molecular tools to the study of palaeoclimatology, originally for the stratigraphic assessment of glacial/interglacial cycles, in a paper he and coworkers published in Nature in 1986. That paper has been cited more than 1,200 times. His work showed that a molecular approach to determining ancient sea surface temperatures was possible. His techniques have been applied subsequently to the study of ocean temperatures at many times in Earth's past, including a study by him and coauthors that revealed that Late Cretaceous tropical seas sometimes exceeded 40°C (104°F). Simon's research has also had applications in the energy industry. He demonstrated that plant products progress through a series of chemical intermediates that correspond to thermal changes brought on by sediment burial and which are now used for techniques like "oil finger printing" to reconstruct the sources and grades of hydrocarbons.
Simon received his PhD at University of Bristol in 1976 with Geoffrey Eglinton and was then a Royal Society Research Fellow at the same institution with Eglinton and James Maxwell. His work features prominently in Eglinton's 2009 book Echos of Life: What Fossils Reveal about Earth History. Simon spent a few years at Stanford University as assistant and then associate professor before coming to Indiana University in 1991 as full professor. Today his scientific publications have been cited more than 16,000 times.
Please join me in congratulating Simon on this well-deserved honor!
AGU announcement: https://eos.org/agu-news/2021-class-of-agu-fellows-announced
Simon Brasell's web page: https://earth.indiana.edu/directory/faculty/brassell-simon.html