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.

2024 Frank Press Public Service Award Recipient

Harley Benz

Harley M. Benz, a former U.S. Geological Survey technical coordinator for the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) and the director of the USGS National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) is honored with the 2024 Frank Press Public Service Award.

Benz is recognized for his work leading to profound improvements in how earthquake science is communicated to students, the media and decision makers.

In his nomination of Benz for the award, Gavin Hayes, senior science advisor for earthquake and geologic hazards at the U.S. Geological Survey, noted the significant impact of Benz’ leadership and guidance in monitoring and characterizing earthquakes worldwide, his effective engagement and outreach, and “his research directed toward advancing the U.S. Geological Survey mission to enhance situational awareness and improve the scope and timeliness of earthquake information in support of earthquake response.”