IPA Lifetime Achievement Award 2020 awarded to Dr. Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown
Dr. Jerry Brown presides over the opening ceremony of the 9th International Conference on Permafrost (NICOP) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The IPA Lifetime Achievement Award 2020 recipient is Dr. Jerry Brown of the USA. Jerry is richly deserving of this honor by virtue of his many scientific accomplishments and his uninterrupted and high-quality service to the global permafrost community over a period of nearly 60 years.

Jerry’s contributions to basic science have been extremely influential. His research has had profound influence in the shaping of permafrost science. He has published many papers in prestigious journals, edited several books and special issues of journals, and produced hundreds of conference papers, reports, and extended abstracts. Over the course of his long career at the USA’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab he published or facilitated dozens of that organization’s Special Reports, Research Reports, and Technical Reports, many of which have had great influence on cold-regions science. After moving to the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Jerry played a major role in developing NSF’s Arctic Programs, including its Arctic Social Science Program. He was lead author of several influential U.S. Polar Research Board strategic and policy documents on permafrost.

Jerry founded the IPA publication Frozen Ground, and edited it for nearly two decades. He was the organizer and lead author of the IPA Circum-Arctic Map of Permafrost and Ground-Ice Conditions, the first large-scale map of permafrost using standardized data sets and cartographic representations. In 1997 he shared in the Nobel Peace Prize for contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change publications. The Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) program was Jerry’s brainchild, and its continuing success is a tribute to his organizational abilities and ongoing contributions. He was instrumental in developing the Arctic Coastal Dynamics program, the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost, and the Global Geocryological Database. Jerry is selflessly dedicated to the advancement of geocryology. It is a severe understatement to say that permafrost science would be a very different, and lesser, enterprise if not for the contributions of Jerry Brown.

Jerry’s record of service to national and international organizations concerned with polar science is of the first rank. He has served in governance roles in the Tundra Biome Program, the Arctic Institute of North America, the U.S. National Research Council’s Polar Research Board, the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, and the U.S. Permafrost Association. He served for the National Research Council of Canada in an extended advisory role and has been on the editorial boards of numerous high-quality international journals. He served long and productive terms as IPA’s Secretary General and President, as well as on the IPA Executive Committee.

Some of the most meritorious aspects of Jerry’s career derive from the superb organizational and interpersonal skills he has applied tirelessly over nearly six decades on behalf of permafrost science and its practitioners. The hallmark of these qualities is Jerry’s remarkable capacity to recall the interests, skill sets, accomplishments, names and faces, affiliations, and personal traits of hundreds of individuals, and to put this knowledge together in such a way as to optimize the productivity and efficiency of the many projects he has overseen, as well as many “behind the scenes” contributions. 

There can be no more deserving individual than Jerry Brown for the IPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed by the organization with which he has been involved for so many years. 

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Text by IPA Executive Committee member Prof. Frederick ‘Fritz’ Nelson

Due to the cancellation of the 12th International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP 2020), where this award would have been presented, the IPA Lifetime Achievement Award 2020 is being digitally announced and celebrated associated with the online 29th Council Meeting of the IPA. The award will be physically presented at the 2021 Regional Conference on Permafrost and 19th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering to be held 11-16 July 2021 in Boulder, Colorado, USA.