13 November 2018

Support the Student Travel Grant Program: A Challenge to the AGU Community

Posted by Joshua Speiser

Jamie Austin, Senior Research Scientist, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin

Jamie Austin, Senior Research Scientist, Jackson School of Geosciences, UT Austin

I recently made a one million dollar matching challenge grant to support AGU’s Fall Meeting Student Travel Grants and hope that you will join me in support of this program.

As humanity and the planet face ever more daunting challenges, science is under attack and facts are shrugged off, the evidence-based solutions that the geosciences provide are now more important than ever. I believe it is incumbent upon us ― as members of the world’s largest Earth and space scientific society ― to support the next generation of scientists who will be working on the front lines to advance the pursuit of knowledge helping to ensure a sustainable future for all. I can think of no better way to do this than by supporting AGU’s Fall Meeting Student Travel Grant Program and opening new doors for the future.

My own interest in geoscience began at an early age. I was fascinated by the Earth and geology and began collecting rocks and minerals as a teenager. Around the age of 15, I was exploring old mine shafts in the Adirondacks – how cool is that! Though my parents weren’t scientists, I would eventually end up earning a Ph.D. at the MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Joint Program in Oceanography and Applied Ocean Science and Engineering. At WHOI, I was fortunate to meet an instructor, an oceanic Galileo, who took me under his wing and would become my Ph.D. advisor. And, though it was more than forty years ago, I still vividly remember my first AGU Fall Meeting. It was everything I could have imagined. I can recall the electricity of walking through the exhibition halls, the excitement of my first presentation, the camaraderie of sharing ideas and forging bonds with thousands of other geoscientists from near and far, and the intimidation and inspiration of rubbing shoulders with some of science’s brightest minds. In virtually no other field could a young professional have these opportunities. I was hooked.

Since graduating, I’ve held the same job as a full-time research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas at Austin, where I have had the opportunity to teach, work with, and advise generations of students. More diverse and less siloed than their older peers, this current generation is both fearless and driven to work towards solutions that will ensure the resilience of the humanity in the face of mounting global problems. Many of them, however, have never had the opportunity to attend AGU’s Fall Meeting where they can share the experience of being immersed in a huge international gathering of geoscientists; where they can attend a session with an eminent researcher in their field or present their own work – some for the first time – to their peers; and where they can build professional bridges that may last a professional lifetime.

That is why I am issuing this challenge to the members of AGU. As we approach our Centennial year, I will match dollar-for-dollar – up to a million dollars – each gift given to the support the student travel grant program. It is my firm belief that private donations from members are key to helping grow and sustain the next generation of geoscientists. I am hopeful that, as a member of the AGU community, you will rise to this challenge.

Join me in me this effort that will help to ensure that every young geoscientist who wishes to attend AGU’s Fall Meeting will not be denied the opportunity to do so. Let your passion to support the sciences drive you. Be fearless. Be be part of the solution. THANK YOU!