Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE—Harry “Hap” McSween, Chancellor’s Professor and Distinguished Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is being honored by the National Academy of Sciences for his extraordinary scientific achievements.

Hap McSweenMcSween is being awarded the J. Lawrence Smith Medal for his pioneering studies of the parent planets of meteorites and his work on the geological history of Mars using studies of Martian meteorites and spacecraft missions to the planet. In 1999, McSween led a team of researchers which discovered geologic evidence on a meteorite that water existed deep in Mars’s crust.

“Hap McSween is the epitome of the superb scientist, teacher, researcher, and university citizen,” said Theresa Lee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “He began his academic career in the College of Arts and Sciences at UT, and throughout his stellar career he has been a torchbearer of the highest standards of excellence of the college and the university. We are, indeed, proud of this most recent recognition of his accomplishments.”

The medal and prize of $25,000 are awarded for recent original and meritorious investigations of meteoric bodies. The award was established as a gift from Sarah Julia Smith in memory of her husband and has been presented since 1888.

“Hap McSween is well-deserving of this honor,” said Larry McKay, professor and head of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. “He’s a great scholar who successfully combines world-class research with exceptional teaching and mentoring. Hap brings his research into the classroom, where he has inspired many students to pursue highly successful careers in the earth and planetary sciences. He’s also been a leader in communicating science to the public through numerous talks as well as recent books on planetary sciences aimed at the general reader.”

The recipients will be honored in a ceremony on April 30, during the National Academy of Sciences’ 149th annual meeting. McSween is one of seventeen honorees.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and — with the National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council — provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

For a complete list of the honorees, visit

C O N T A C T:

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460,