The 2022 Joseph A. Cushman Award for Excellence in Foraminiferal Research was awarded to Professor Rajiv Nigam, a prolific researcher on living and fossil foraminifera, by the Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research, Inc. on October 11, 2022. He is the 50th recipient of this award, initiated in 1980. Professor Nigam is recognized as a leader in Indian and international marine micropaleontology using foraminifera to understand oceanographic processes and their role in environmental, paleo-environmental, and archaeological studies. He accomplished all this in 160 peer-reviewed papers between 1978 and 2021. His work continues today with students in his lab at India's National Institute of Oceanography.

Professor Nigam developed foraminiferal techniques for use and understanding in pollution monitoring, paleoclimatic reconstructions, paleodepth determination, Holocene sea-level identification, tsunami history on Indian coasts, and of uncovering the history, mechanics, and the 77-year cyclicity of monsoonal rains of the Indian subcontinent. Using both isotopic and elemental composition of foraminifera, he was able to estimate paleotemperatures, particularly of the Indian Ocean. He also advanced the study of living foraminifera by growing them in banks of special incubators in his laboratory to elaborate their life spans, and understand ocean acidification, paleoclimates, and marine pollution.

In an unusual application of foraminifera, Professor Nigam pioneered using them in marine archaeology, and he led expeditions to archaeological sites to establish marine connections with ancient (Neolithic) cities in the Gulf of Cambay in north-western India. At Lothal, a city about 5,000 years old, Nigam used foraminifera to determine that a structure filled with water was, in fact, the world's oldest dockyard that was used by ships in coastal trade. A thick wall (∼18 m) at the city of Dholavira, also about 5,000 years old, was thought to be defensive but was demonstrated by Nigam's team to be the first tsunami protection system in India and perhaps the world.

Professor Nigam received his bachelor's and master's degrees in Geology at Lucknow University, and earned Master of Philosophy, Doctor of Philosophy, and Doctor of Science degrees in Geology from the Aligarh Muslim University. Although not a Muslim, he attended the university to work with Professor S. N. Bhalla, a well-known expert on foraminifera. There in 1982, his Ph.D. was “A study of Recent foraminifera from the beaches of western India”. In 2001, he received his D.Sc. on foraminifera from the western continental margin of India. Nigam also received a diploma from NORAD (Oslo University) in marine micropaleontology while in residence in Norway in 1983.

In 1978, he was appointed to the position of Senior Scientific Assistant at India's National Institute of Oceanography (NIO). He rose through the ranks of Scientist, and was named Chief Scientist in 2006, later retiring in 2016. He served as Head of the Geological Oceanography Division and Marine Archaeology Unit of NIO. He remains a Consultant and CSIR Emeritus Scientist at NIO, maintaining his laboratory and overseeing students including post-doctors. He also serves as the Vice President of the Paleontological Society of India.

During his career at NIO, Nigam mentored fifteen outstanding younger foraminiferal workers in his lab and in the field. Five of his students were awarded the CSIR Young Scientist Award in India. His methods of teaching included careful instruction in all aspects of foraminifera and marine geology as well as warmth and devotion to the students.

Nigam was also a visiting scientist in other labs across the world: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA; the Geological Survey of Iran, Tehran, Iran; the Institute of Oceanology, Qingdao, P.R. China; and Dhaka University, Bangladesh as well as his previous work in Norway.

Professor Nigam has received many awards for his work on foraminifera, including the CSIR Young Scientist Award, Krishnan Gold Medal, National Mineral Awards, M.R. Sahni lecture award, and the Bhalla Gold Medal for excellence in Micropaleontology presented by the Paleontological Society of India, and the H.N. Siddiquie Memorial Lecture award by the Indian Geophysical Union.

In recognition of Professor Rajiv Nigam's many excellent contributions in micropaleontology, marine geology, biology, and even archaeology using foraminifera, the Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research, Inc. presented him with the 2022 Joseph A. Cushman Award for Excellence in Foraminiferal Research. As part of the celebration, members of the Cushman Foundation's Board of Directors took Professor Nigam on a special field trip to Dinosaur Ridge near Denver to show him the local paleontology. The presentation was made October 11, 2022, at the Cushman Foundation's annual award reception and dinner in Denver, Colorado (Figs. 24).

Professor Jere H. Lipps

University of California

Berkeley, California, USA

Professor M.P. Singh

Lucknow University

Lucknow, Utter Pradesh, India