Presentation of an Academia Europaea Gold Award,
On 27 October 2022, Barcelona, to#

Professor Dr. Sierd Cloetingh#

Citation: This award is only rarely given, and is made… to those members and non-members of the Academia and to organisations, in recognition of the contribution made to European science through inspiration, public support, management expertise or by financial means.

The Board of trustees of the Academia Europaea are pleased to be able to recognize the substantial and sustained contribution that Sierd Cloetingh has made to the life of the Academia Europaea throughout his membership. We are pleased to recognize and to mark with this award, the significant impact he has had on the development of the wider European collaborative science and innovation landscape, through his positions in the ERC (as a Vice president), COST (as a President) and other European and international level representative bodies and organizations, including those relating to his fields of expertise. His wisdom and influence have made substantial contributions to the development of the ERC and to COST and have contributed positively to the overall landscape of collaborations across our continent. He can be said to have been a true pioneer for our development of the European Research Area concept. Following his election to the Academia Europaea in 1993, Sierd quickly established and then maintained a close and active engagement in all aspects of the Academy. He has, at various times, served as a Council member, as a Trustee, as a section chair (for Earth and Cosmic Sciences) and recently, as our President. He has been instrumental in the establishment of the Young Academy of Europe and has overseen the development of the AE network of Regional Knowledge Hubs. These centres are now playing an important part in promoting the widening of participation in European Sciences for scholars from the less favoured regions. Sierd has always promoted the visibility of the Academia, not least through his recent Presidency on the Board of the EU Horizon project ‘SAPEA’, where the AE has plays a significant role. The outstanding, selfless and continuous high-level of service that Sierd has given to the Academia Europaea over almost 30 years, is perhaps unequalled. The Gold award of our Academy is therefore a fitting mark of our recognition of this service.

Prof. Sierd Cloetingh (Foto: Photo: Tamás Szigeti/MTA)

AE Gold Medal
Academia Europaea’s Gold Award

Sierd Cloetingh will deliver his Gold Award address during the Academia Europaea 33rd annual conference, which will take place in Barcelona on 26 - 27 October 2022.

Robert-Jan Smits MAE (Hon.) will give the laudation. Dr. Smits is the President of Eindhoven University of Technology and a former Director General of DG Research and Innovation of the European Commission.


Bottom-up probing System Earth: a journey in deep time and space#


Integrated studies of the full Earth system across space and timescales are rapidly advancing, such as exemplified by the recent conception of the International Union of Geosciences’ (IUGS) first big science program on Deep-time Digital Earth (Oberhaensli, 2020, J.Geol.Soc.India). Probably one of the important developments in Solid-Earth science over the past decade has been the recognition of the importance of linking deep Earth dynamic processes with surface and near-surface geologic processes (e.g., Cloetingh et al. 2007, GPC; Cloetingh et al., 2013, Gondwana Res.; Cloetingh et al., 2020, Encycl Solid Earth Geoph.). Deep Earth research, encompassing fields such as seismology and mantle geodynamics, has traditionally operated distinctly from fields focusing on dynamics near the Earth’s surface, such as sedimentary geology, geomorphology, and climate/paleoclimate. However, as realized by the International Lithosphere Program (ILP), these endeavours have in common the study of Earth’s topography and the prediction of its origin and rates of change. Observations from surface studies, such as basin stratigraphy, geomorphology of landscapes, changes in surface elevation, and changes in sea level (Cloetingh and Haq, 2015, Science), provide some of the principal constraints on geodynamic and tectonic models. Conversely, deep geodynamic processes give rise to topography, thereby modifying regional climate, erosion, and sediment generation that are the basis of surface geology. The lithosphere, due to its stratified rheological structure, acts as a non-linear “filter” for deeper sources, attenuating long deformation wavelength and creating new, shorter wavelength deformation; giving a surface response more complex than that of the mantle source (Cloetingh et al., 2021, GCubed; Koptev et al., 2021, GJI).

It is the surface manifestations of these deep geodynamic processes modified by mantle-lithosphere interactions that have significant societal impact by (1) creating natural hazards, such as earthquakes and mass movements, and (2) controlling the distribution of natural resources including fossil fuels and geothermal energy (Cloetingh et al., 2010, ESR; Limberger et al., 2018, Renew & Sust Energy Rev). The relevance of research conducted in both the deep Earth and surface regimes is thus strongly enhanced through a focus on their interaction. Research on enhanced geothermal systems has developed as a vigorous focus for networking European Earth science research institutions and provides a fine example of connecting basic research in coupled deep Earth and surface processes with societal relevance in the present era of energy transition to a more sustainable world.

TOPO-EUROPE integrates European research facilities (e.g. the European Plate Observing System EPOS) and know-how essential to advance the understanding of the role of topography in Earth System Dynamics. The principal objective of the network, initiated within the Earth and Cosmic Science section of Academia Europaea, is twofold. Namely, to integrate national research programs into a common European network and, furthermore, to integrate activities among TOPO-EUROPE institutes and participants. Key objectives are to provide an interdisciplinary forum to share knowledge and information in the field of the neo-tectonic and topographic evolution of Europe, to promote and encourage multidisciplinary research on a truly European scale, to increase mobility of scientists and to train young scientists.

The overview presented here demonstrates the opportunities for a further understanding of the full Earth system across space and timescales.


Sierd Cloetingh is Utrecht University Distinguished Professor. His research field is Earth Sciences. He published 376 papers in international peer-reviewed journals (Scopus: 17,523 citations, h-index 73) and has been promotor of close to 80 PhD students of 18 different nationalities. Currently he serves as President of the Academia Europaea, Member of the Board of SAPEA (Scientific Advice for Policy by European Academies) and Chair Coordinating Committee Europe of the International Lithosphere Program. Past functions include President of the Association for European Cooperation in Science & Technology (COST), Membership of the Scientific Council (2009-2015) and Vice-President of the European Research Council (ERC), President of the European Geophysical Society (1998-2000), President of the International Lithosphere Program (ILP), Distinguished Professor of the Royal Netherlands Academy for Arts and Sciences (KNAW, 2006-2015), Editor-in-Chief of the international journal "Global and Planetary Change" and Chairman of the ESF TOPO-EUROPE large-scale European collaborative research program.

Sierd Cloetingh received honorary doctorates from five European universities and numerous medals and awards. He is member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences and the German National Academy for Technical Sciences (acatech), Foreign member of the Royal Norwegian Academy, Royal Danish Academy, Heidelberg Academy, Bavarian Academy of Sciences and honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He was distinguished in 2005 as Chevalier de Legion d'Honneur and in 2014 as Knight of the Royal Order of the Netherlands Lion for his contributions to science and European scientific cooperation in research and education.

Academia Europaea’s Gold Award#

The Academia’s Gold Award is awarded to individuals and to organisations in recognition of their contribution made to European science. The Gold Award has been awarded to:

  • The Royal Society of London (1997)
  • Professor Heinz Riesenhuber (1997)
  • Dr George Soros (1997)
  • Dr Paul Sacher (1998)
  • Jacques Delors (2000)
  • Dr h.c. Klaus Tschira (2004)
  • The Max Plank Society (Die Max-Planck Gesellschaft) (2005)
  • The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (2005)
  • Riksbankens Jubileumsfonds (The Royal Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation) (2007)
  • The Wenner Gren Foundations, Stockholm (2008)
  • The Compagnia di San Paolo, Turin, Italy (2009)
  • Professor Helga Nowotny (2017)
  • Robert-Jan Smits (2018)
  • The German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina) (2018)
  • Professor Ole Petersen (2020/2021)
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