Citation for Vladimir Cermak: 1995 AGU Flinn Award



“Vladimìr Cermák, Director of the Geophysical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, has for many years played a most remarkable role in bringing Earth scientists from the Eastern and Western Bloc countries together for scientific interactions. However anachronistic the concept of East and West political divisions may seem today, there are many who remember the nearly insuperable obstacles that prevented scientific exchange between those groups for decades prior to 1989. Vladimìr Cermák, through his organizing of small conferences and workshops in Czechoslovakia, accomplished the impossible. Through some extraordinarily deft diplomacy, Cermák obtained funding, secured visas, and mastered arcane currency regulations to enable small groups to meet in splendid castles and elegant country homes in rural Bohemia, facilities without urban distractions which had been placed under the custodianship of the Czech Academy of Science to serve as scientific retreats. Three meetings in the course of a decade stand out: at Liblice in 1982, and at Bechyne in 1987 and 1991, all dealing in general with heat flow and thermal aspects of lithospheric structure. These meetings were not just for prominent senior scientists, though of course many were in attendance. Of special significance were the opportunities for younger researchers to surmount the barriers that had been erected by forces well beyond the sphere of science. As one West German remarked as a graduate student in 1982, ‘I remember well how impressed I was…to learn the details of the daily personal and scientific life of an east German colleague of my own age.’ Cermák knew intuitively that the future belonged to the young, and he wanted to nurture their enthusiasm and stimulate their creativity.