Cheng08Prof. Qiuming Cheng has been selected by the IAMG Awards Committee (Chair, Stephen Henley) as the twenty-seventh winner of the William Christian Krumbein Medal of the International Association for Mathematical Geosciences. This medal is the highest honor bestowed by our Association, and has been awarded every year from 1976 to 1996, and every second year thereafter. Qiuming was recognized for each of the three criteria: distinguished research, service to IAMG, and service to the profession. It is our custom that the Krumbein medalist is a keynote speaker at the next IAMG conference or International Geological Congress (IGC), at which time the medal is presented. Qiuming is scheduled to present this address at the 33rd IGC in Oslo on August 7th, 2008.

Qiuming is currently a full professor jointly in the Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering, and in the Department of Geography, at York University, Toronto. Additionally, he is Changjiang Scholar Professor and Director of the State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resources (GPMR), which is part of the China University of Geosciences (CUG) with campuses in Wuhan and Beijing. The fact that Qiuming currently holds these positions simultaneously is an indication of his exceptional organizational capabilities as a manager in addition to his superb scientific contributions. Both in Toronto and Wuhan/Beijing, he directs the research of large teams consisting of graduate students, postdocs and visiting scientists (about 15-members).

It is appropriate that Qiuming is honored and acknowledged by our Association, not least because he has excelled and continues to excel in all three areas of career achievement for which this honor is awarded:
     (a) His publication record is excellent. Almost single-handedly, he has advanced solid Earth applications of non-linear processes including multifractal modeling. He has introduced novel ways of analyzing geological, geochemical, geophysical, and Remote Sensing data. A recent example is singularity mapping which is helpful for identifying target areas in mineral exploration and the study of regional geochemical pollution patterns.
     (b) In addition to serving on the IAMG Council, editorial boards and committees, he was a key organizer for two very successful annual meetings (IAMG-2005 in Toronto, and IAMG-2007 in Beijing). The second of these conferences was our largest annual meeting ever, with over 400 participants. Largely due to Qiuming’s promotion of the IAMG, we now have many active members in China.
     (c) Not only has Qiuming already trained many graduate students specializing in geomathematics, he was responsible for establishing the GPMR Key Lab in China, which provides a home for about 50 of CUG’s best scientists.

Personally, I consider it a real privilege to have had Qiuming Cheng as a PhD student. I first met him at the 1989 APCOM (Applications of Computers in the Mineral Industries) in Berlin. At that time, he already had been appointed Associate Professor at Changchun University of Geosciences in China, but he wanted to become my student at the University of Ottawa. After arriving in 1991, he completed his PhD thesis within 3 years. Almost immediately he took a liking to non-linear modeling. I remember that he pointed out to me that existing fractal approaches relating perimeters to areas of 2-dimensional objects contained an error. Initially I did not believe him, partly because the existing approach seemed to be well-established and had even entered the textbooks, but further reflection convinced me that Qiuming was right.

His thesis was recognized to be the best doctoral dissertation from the University of Ottawa School of Research and Graduate Studies. This honor is awarded annually after the evaluation of many nominations from all faculties. The citation for Qiuming contained the sentence: “Dr. Cheng has demonstrated his potential as a world-class scientist, producing results that are important not only in the geosciences but also in physics and mathematics.” This prediction was amply fulfilled during the past 15 years, and continues to hold true today.

Other early indications of recognition of his unusual capabilities were that, after a brief postdoctoral fellowship at GSC in Ottawa, Qiuming was awarded a professorship at York University, for which he was selected from more than 60 applicants; and, 11 years ago, he was awarded the IAMG’s President’s Award for scientists in our field aged 35 or less (since renamed Vistelius Award). More recently, in 2004, I witnessed how he won the treasured “State Key” status for the GPMR Laboratory, for which he had prepared the proposal in competition with several much larger Chinese geoscientific research establishments.

In Qiuming Cheng, IAMG continues to have an exceptionally productive member who has made many significant contributions to the advancement of our branch of science, service to the IAMG itself, and support of our profession. I am happy that we have recognized this by awarding him the Krumbein Medal for 2008. Although Qiuming now lives in Toronto with Ming and their children Tony and Kathy, he travels with a Chinese passport and makes numerous trips to China, where CUG is providing him with his own apartments in both Beijing and Wuhan.

Frits Agterberg
Geological Survey of Canada,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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