Remembering Dr. Guðrún Gísladóttir

Compton James Tucker, His Majesty the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, and Guðrún Gísladóttir. Dr. Gísladóttir received the Wahlberg's Gold Medal in 2014.

The Lal Carbon Center is deeply saddened by the passing of a brilliant colleague, Guðrún Gísladóttir, Professor of Geology at the University of Iceland in the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences. Her profound commitment to studying and safeguarding the planet’s geological heritage resonated globally, a poignant reminder of the delicate balance between humanity and the delicate ecosystems that require our respect and care. 

Prof. Gísladóttir’s remarkable contributions to the fields of geology and environmental sciences were adorned with numerous accolades, including the Gold Wahlberg Medal awarded by the Swedish King on behalf of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography. Her leadership was exemplified by her role in significant projects like the NCoE NORDRESS, which focused on bolstering societal resilience against natural hazards. ​

"Even as a child I sensed the powerful impact of the people's cohabitation with nature ..." — Guðrún Gísladóttir

The collaboration between our dear friend and colleague, OSU, and the Lal Carbon Center spanned over fifteen years, beginning with an International Seminar on Land Degradation in Iceland in 2007 at Ohio State led by Prof. Gisladóttir. She mentored several Lal Carbon Center (known as C-MASC at the time) graduate students at the University of Iceland, including Josh Beniston, Nick Stanich, Melissa Herman, Claire Turner. She supervised them in the field there, sampling soils in the Skaftafell outlet glacier of Vatnajökul, and guiding them through their academic journeys. Professor Gísladóttir in turn sponsored a student exchange of Ph.D students from UI with OSU and Dr. Rattan Lal: Dr. Taru Lehtinen, Olga Kolbrún Vilmundardóttir, and Susanne Claudia Möckels. ​

Prof. Gisladóttir also graciously hosted OSU visiting faculty at the University of Iceland at more than one event, including Dean Robert Moser and Professors David Hansen, Jerry Ladman, Rattan Lal, and Brian Slater. Notably, she presented Dr. Lal with the Commission on Land Degradation and Desertification Award (COMLAND) in 2009. ​

Guðrún Gísladóttir’s passion, dedication, and ability to ignite curiosity in her colleagues and students continues to alter the lives she touched. Though she may have left us, her insights and spirit will forever guide our appreciation of the interaction between human beings and the natural environment. A fascinating look into her contributions and life can also be found at Hit Iceland (2018) here: