Published: April 18, 2014

Professor Robert S. Anderson of the University of Colorado Boulder’s geological sciences department and Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research has been awarded the 2014 Hazel Barnes Prize, the most distinguished award a faculty member can receive from the university.

Since 1992, the Hazel Barnes Prize has been awarded each year to a CU-Boulder faculty member who best exemplifies the enriching interrelationship between teaching and research, and whose work has had a significant impact on students, faculty, colleagues and the university.

“Professor Anderson is an outstanding teacher and mentor,” said Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “His impact on students inspires their continued interest in science and his classroom is intellectually stimulating and supportive. Through his research, his students also are on the leading edge of new knowledge in geomorphology.”

The prize includes a $20,000 cash award and an engraved University medal. The medal will be presented at the May 9 spring commencement. Anderson also will be recognized at a reception in the fall that will include former Hazel Barnes Prize recipients, family members, colleagues and students.

A nomination letter from his colleagues said Anderson “skillfully combines an outstanding research record, inspired teaching both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and collegial activities across campus.”

Anderson joined the CU-Boulder faculty in 2003. He received his Ph.D. in geological sciences from the University of Washington in 1986 and was a postdoctoral researcher at Caltech before joining the faculty of the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1988, rising to the rank of full professor in 1997. In 2001-02, he spent a sabbatical at CU-Boulder.

Anderson is a geomorphologist and studies many features of landscapes that evolved in the Quaternary geologic period, from about 2.5 million years ago to the present. “He represents the leading edge of a new wave of quantitative geomorphologists (those who study the shape of the Earth’s surface) who are bringing the rigor of physics, chemistry and mathematical models to breathe new life into the study of Earth surface processes,” his colleagues wrote in their letter.

“He is a highly original thinker in the processes of erosion and sediment transport and landscape evolution, thinks on all scales from very large to very small, and combines theoretical expertise with practical nuts-and-bolts observational capability in equal measure,” his colleagues said.

Anderson is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and served as founding editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface. He has published 136 peer-reviewed articles and with his wife, Suzanne, an associate professor of geography, co-authored the recently released textbook Geomorphology: ThMechanics and Chemistry of Landscapes.

He has taught a range of courses from a survey class for non-majors to graduate seminars. His undergraduate and graduate students laud his ability to make complex concepts clear along with his enthusiasm.

“I can still vividly remember his ear-to-ear smile as he threw his arms in the air with excitement and started to describe all the geological transformations around us ... I could feel his passion infusing into everyone,” one student wrote.

The Hazel Barnes Prize is named in honor of philosophy Professor Emerita Hazel Barnes, who taught at CU-Boulder from 1943 to 1986 and is noted for her interpretations of the works of French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre. Barnes died in 2008 at the age of 92.

For more information on the Hazel Barnes Prize and a list of recipients visit