Presented in 1996 with the Career Achievement Award from the Structure and Tectonics Division of the Geological Society of America, Means' research has been funded continuously by the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 1976, enabling him to pioneer the development of a new method for observing through a microscope, in real time, the grain-scale deformation process. This discovery opened up an area of study previously limited only to the examination of the initial and final stages of experimentation. Through his work, the deformation process can now be repeated and its results graphically demonstrated.
Means has also published consistently in the premier journals in the his field since 1962, with more than 50 authorships to his credit, and served on the editorial board of two of those prestigious publications, The Journal of Structural Geology and Tectonophysics. He has also served four years on NSF advisory committees and on the boards of international geological associations, and was a 1992 Fulbright fellow. In addition, he has published two influential textbooks, Stress and Strain: Basic Concepts of Continuum Mechanics for Geologists and An Outline of Structural Geology, and co- authored two others.
The new earth sciences building of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. now includes an exhibit on Means' work, a tribute to the importance of his disciplinary contribution. Part of the exhibit included his work with a graduate student, Youngdo Park, only one of the next generation of science's most promising structural geologists trained and inspired by Means.