UJ geoscientist elected to the US National Academy of Science 

Nic Beukes, Professor of Geology at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has been elected to the US (United States) National Academy of Sciences (NAS) as an International Member. 

Created in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, the Academy is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the US on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research. 

Prof Beukes, who is considered a world expert on iron and manganese formations and studies of Early Earth surface environments, is among 120 new American and 30 international members elected this year. 

He is currently managing a large scientific drilling project (sponsored by the International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP) and several other local and international partners) on behalf of UJ and DSI-NRF CIMERA in the Barberton Greenstone Belt. The project, referred to as BASE (Barberton Archean Surface Environments), is designed to obtain fresh drill core material of the 3200-million-year-old Moodies Group that represents the world’s oldest known, well-preserved sedimentary succession with abundant deposits formed on land in fluvial (river) and intertidal settings. The drill cores would thus provide ideal research material for studies to understand paleoenvironmental and paleo-ecological conditions on land and coastal areas during the early history of the world some 3200 million years ago. 

Apart from having been rated as an A1 scientist by the National Research Foundation between 2001 and 2021, Prof Beukes is a recipient of the Jubilee Medal (thrice for best publication in the South African Journal of Geology), the Draper Medal (the highest award from the Geological Society of South Africa for scientific contributions in geology), UJ Vice-Chancellor’s Medal for Research Achievement, the Centenary and the Havenga Medals of the “Suid Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns”, and the NSTF-South 32 Lifetime Award. 

Says Prof Beukes on his election to the Academy: “My election as an international member of the US National Academy of Sciences came as a very pleasant surprise. I am indeed very honoured to have been selected, and to serve as a member of the Geology Section of the Academy amongst whom are some of the most distinguished geologists from around the world. I also feel privileged to currently be the only South African geologist elected and, in that way, provide me with the opportunity to represent South African Earth Sciences as an international member of the Academy. These are all very exciting developments and serve as further motivation to continue research on Early Earth Mineral Systems and Environments with the remarkable Precambrian Geology of South Africa as the focus area.” 

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