Frank Press Public Service Award

Frank Press is the only seismologist who has served as president of the National Academy of Sciences.

Since 2003, the Frank Press Public Service Award has celebrated outstanding contributions to the advancement of public safety or public information relating to seismology. Past recipients have been recognized for their efforts in building and disseminating critical ideas and tools in seismology; for their work in keeping the public safe, prepared and resilient against earthquakes and accompanying threats; for their public service in the fields of science education, communication and public outreach; and for their thoughtful advice in the face of natural disasters and tragic events.

Award Criteria

The Frank Press Award honors outstanding contributions to the advancement of public safety or public information relating to seismology and is given no more than once a year.

Award Eligibility

This award may be given to any individual, combination of individuals or to any organization. No individual who is a member, member-elect or officer of the Board of Directors at the time of the nomination deadline shall be eligible for nomination.

Nomination Procedure

The chief nominator must be an SSA member who is eligible to submit a nomination. The nomination package should contain a letter of nomination no more than two pages long summarizing the nominee’s significant accomplishments and two to four supporting letters, each no more than two pages long. At least one supporting letter should be written by an SSA member. If an individual is being nominated, a curriculum vitae or biography is recommended but not required. Any unsuccessful nomination may be considered again in the following year’s award cycle without resubmission of the nomination package if requested by a nominator before 30 September of that year. To be reconsidered in subsequent years (beyond the year immediately following the original nomination), a new nomination package must be submitted. The Executive Director will contact nominators via email prior to 30 September to confirm willingness for reconsideration of a package for a second year.

A signed nominator disclosure form submitted by the chief nominator must be included with every submission. Click here to complete the Ethics Disclosure Form for Nominators.

Awardee Selection

The awardee is selected by the subcommittee, which should review the nomination packages taking into account the differences in experience and culture of the nominators. The subcommittee should write a letter to the Board containing: 1) a list of all nominees, 2) the proposed recipient, 3) some text briefly explaining the nominee’s characteristics that justify the subcommittee’s decision, 4) optionally, if deemed necessary, some text listing in general terms, without naming names, the reason the proposed recipient was preferable to the other candidates and 5) a brief description of the selection process. The subcommittee will provide this letter to the HC Chair who will forward the letter and nomination package for the proposed recipient to the Executive Director. The Board will vote up or down on the proposed recipient. The HC does not review the subcommittee decisions. The committees, Board and staff will keep the names of nominees and nomination materials private.

Subcommittee Membership

Five persons, including the chair, serve on the subcommittee. One member of the subcommittee should also be a member of the HC, preferably the chair. Members need not be SSA members. Subcommittee members should include junior and senior professionals who are well-informed about public service organizations and the importance of diversity and equity. Normal term of service is two years, with the chair serving for two years.

Deadline and More Details

Nominations for all SSA awards should be sent to the SSA Secretary by 30 September. Electronic submissions should be e-mailed in .TXT, .PDF or .DOC files to

For more information, see the SSA Honors Program guide. Questions may be directed to the Chair of the Honors Committee, Heather DeShon ( Please list Frank Press Award – Question as the subject line.

2021 Frank Press Public Service Award Recipient

Timothy Ahern
Timothy Ahern’s nominators said he has been consistently ahead of the curve in terms of understanding the technology necessary for seismic data storage and management.

Timothy Ahern became the program manager for the IRIS Data Management Center shortly after IRIS was formed and later became director of data services for IRIS, serving in that position for nearly three decades. He ushered in a new collaborative, open-data approach to observational seismology worldwide that has improved hazard assessment and increased public safety in at-risk communities.

Under Ahern’s leadership at IRIS, the Data Management Center moved beyond raw waveforms to producing and distributing products such as ground motion visualization and aftershock animations that have been widely useful to both seismologists and the general public.

“Tim’s vision of freely available high-quality data has impacted every seismologist across the globe.”– Brian Stump, Southern Methodist University Albritton Chair of Geological Sciences