Outstanding Scientist Award 2001

Award: Outstanding Scientist

Awardee: William A. Cobban

Citation published in: The Outlook, November 2001, p. 12-13

William A. Cobban has had a long and outstanding career as an industry exploration geologist and as a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. His contributions to the development of the biostratigraphic zonation of the Cretaceous in the Western Interior are invaluable. Bill received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana in 1940 and in 1949 received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Johns Hopkins University. From 1940 to 1946, Bill was employed with Carter Oil Company as an exploration geologist and district geologist in the Rocky Mountain region. Bill was employed as a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey from 1946 until 1992, when he retired. He is currently an emeritus scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Bill is perhaps best known for his work in establishing the ammonite zonation for the Cretaceous of the Western Interior. Along with co-workers, he also refined the chronostratigraphy, biogeography, and molluscan paleontology of each epoch in the Cretaceous. This work has facilitated the correlation of rock units over long distances and is invaluable in the determination of structural and stratigraphic events. Among his many close friends and colleagues, Bill has a reputation for hard work, perseverance, and unselfish contributions to resolving geological problems. Bill’s office doors are always open to anyone with a geologic problem.

Bill has published more than 240 technical papers and has given numerous talks and poster sessions. He has several honorary memberships and has received several awards throughout his career including the U.S. Department of Interior Meritorious Service Award, the SEPM Raymond C. Moore Paleontology Medal, the Paleontological Society Paleontology medal, and the Rocky Mountain SEPM Distinguished Geologist Pioneer Award. In addition, twelve species and several genera of Jurassic and Cretaceous invertebrate fossils have been named for Bill by colleagues from the U.S., France, Japan, Russia, and South Africa.

In recognition of his contributions and devotion to the geological sciences, the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists bestows the Outstanding Scientist Award to William A. Cobban.