UC Irvine is confering is most prestigious honor, the Medal, on prominent Arizona planetary geologist and university leader Laurel Wilkening [right, credit, UCI]. Dr. Wilkening served as Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate College, Vice Provost, Acting Dean of Sciences, Director of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and Head of the Department of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona. The UCI announcement listed accomplishments after leaving UA, including:
Laurel Wilkening was third chancellor of UCI, serving from 1993 to 1998. A renowned planetary scientist and expert on comets and meteorites, she served on several NASA committees and boards during the 1990s.
During her five-year tenure, the campus received its first two Nobel Prizes, contributed more than $1 billion per year to the local economy, completed 250,000 square feet of construction, and increased private, state and federal funding. Wilkening's goal to move UCI into the ranks of America's top 50 research universities was realized in 1995, and the campus was invited to join the prestigious Association of American Universities the following year.
Following her retirement in 1998, she returned to Arizona and lives in the Sonoita area.