Geochemist Jay Quade elected to National Academy of Sciences

Jay Quade (left) and Jordan Abell, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Geosciences (right) looking for optimal samples.

Jay Quade (left) and Jordan Abell, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Geosciences (right) looking for optimal samples.

Güneş Duru

Jay Quade, a professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arizona, is among the newest members elected to National Academy of Sciences, a nonprofit society of distinguished scholars. He was recognized for his critical contributions to the geosciences field, which provide a deeper understanding of Earth's past environments. 

The academy announced 120 new members and 24 new international members on April 30. 

Jay Quade

Jay Quade

Being elected to the National Academy of Sciences is one of the highest honors that a U.S. scientist can receive. It acknowledges scientists' original contributions that have significantly advanced the understanding of science. Quade is the only new member from UArizona. 

"I really see this in the context of the department (of geosciences). This would not have happened without being in this department," Quade said. "I'm very lucky to be working with a high functioning and a very interactive faculty."

Quade has specialized in several interdisciplinary fields in geosciences and anthropology. His research interests include geochemical aspects of soils, weathering or the breakdown of rocks at the Earth's surface, radiocarbon dating, and paleohydrology, which is the study of Earth's waters as they existed during previous periods of the planet's history. 

Quade's work extends globally, with significant contributions to understanding the evolution of climate and landscapes over the past 60 million years. This includes studying early hominids in Africa. He has also been involved in pioneering geochemical isotopic methods for investigating how the Earth's crust formed, changed and moved. 

Quade completed his graduate studies at UArizona and earned his doctorate from the University of Utah in 1990. In 1992, he joined UArizona as an assistant professor and director of the Tumamoc Desert Laboratory, which focuses on life in the desert and how living systems cope with aridity. Since joining the university faculty, he has been involved in developing advanced laboratory systems for radiocarbon dating of ancient samples. 

"Every project unfolded quite naturally – I like pursuing scientific questions, and the productivity came as a natural result," Quade said.

In the future, Quade is planning to work on a Greek archaeology project in Turkey and another project in The Dead Sea area in Israel. 

"Jay Quade's work in geosciences has been transformational, of our understanding of our planet and our role in changing it, of our geochemical tools and their applications, and of the diversity of our scientists," said Joellen Russell, Distinguished Professor and head of the Department of Geosciences. "We couldn't be prouder of our dear friend and colleague, and it's wonderful that the National Academy of Sciences recognized Jay’s profound impact on our field and our planet." 

Quade has published hundreds of scientific papers, and his work has been cited close to 30,000 times. In 2015, he was elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America. In 2018, he received the prestigious Arthur L. Day Medal from the Geological Society of America. The award is given for outstanding achievement in applying physics and chemistry to solve geological problems. 

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