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Last modified: Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Leader in sustainability to receive IU Bloomington Distinguished Service Award

April 9, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Michael Hamburger, professor in the Department of Geological Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been chosen to receive the Indiana University Bloomington Distinguished Service Award for 2012-13.

Hamburger is being recognized for his contributions to his academic discipline, the university and the IU Bloomington campus, and the larger community -- especially his leadership in issues of environmental sustainability and in helping to create the IU Office of Sustainability.

Hamburger co-chaired the Task Force on Sustainability, which produced a 2008 report that set the template for IU Bloomington's now highly successful program in sustainability. The report led to the creation of an Office of Sustainability with a full-time director and dozens of research and service projects carried out by talented and intensely motivated student interns.


Chris Meyer

Michael Hamburger

Print-Quality Photo

In addition to his work on the sustainability initiative, he is highly regarded for public education and outreach efforts regarding the science of seismology and geophysics, earthquake awareness and preparedness, and environmental studies. He has taken a lead in shaping the campus and community response to major natural disasters, including the Indian Ocean tsunami and earthquakes in Haiti and Pakistan. He served as acting chair of the Department of Geological Sciences and served an extended term as IU Bloomington associate dean of the faculties and associate vice provost for faculty and academic affairs.

"Michael is truly deserving of the Distinguished Service Award," said Tom Gieryn, vice provost for faculty and academic affairs. "As associate dean of the faculties, he realized that sustainability could be a terrific vehicle for bringing together faculty members into genuinely interdisciplinary research and teaching collaborations. He provided the leadership and hard work to ensure the success of the initiatives."

Letters of recommendation for the award praise Hamburger for:

  • His leadership in establishing the IU Research and Teaching Preserve in a wooded area near Bloomington that had been targeted for development of a golf course.
  • His role as a sought-after public speaker on earthquake science and awareness.
  • Engaging high-school students in the PEPP Earthquake Science Program, which brings research-quality instruments to schools for collection and analysis of earthquake data.
  • His contributions to the mission of promoting earthquake safety in developing countries.
  • Helping develop the College of Arts and Sciences' Themester for 2010: "Sustain.ability: Thriving on a Small Planet" themed semester initiative.
  • Co-chairing a committee to develop a new environmental and sustainability studies program.

"Michael is a great communicator, leader, teacher, writer, speaker, editor and fundraiser," Jeanne Sept, professor of anthropology and former dean of the faculties, and Bill Brown, director of sustainability, wrote in a nomination letter. "He possesses an innate sense of knowing who needs to be at the table to get things done and he has an uncanny knack of finding the hook to get them there."

Hamburger has been a professor of geological sciences at IU Bloomington since January 1986. He received his Ph.D. in geophysics at Cornell University and his undergraduate degree in environmental sciences and Russian studies at Wesleyan University. His research interests center on the relation of earthquakes to global geological processes, earthquake hazards and volcanic activity.

He is the author of more than 60 papers on seismology, volcanology, tectonics and earth science education. His research in seismology and volcanology has included field investigations in Alaska, the Philippines, the South Pacific, Central Asia and the central U.S., including a current project that involves deployment of 140 seismic instruments across the Midwest.

Hamburger teaches popular introductory-level courses, including an introductory geology course, "Earthquakes and Volcanoes" and an 'expedition' course taught in collaboration with Collins Living-Learning Center and the Hutton Honors College, "Volcanoes of the Eastern Sierra Nevada."

The Distinguished Service Award was initiated by the IU Bloomington Faculty Council to recognize faculty members or librarians who provide distinguished service to the university, a profession, a discipline or the public. The award carries a one-time cash prize of $2,000.

Hamburger will be recognized in a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, April 22, in the President's Room of the University Club in the Indiana Memorial Reunion. Please RSVP to

To speak with Hamburger, contact Steve Hinnefeld at IU Communications, 812-856-3488 or