Updates to AGU’s Honors and Recognition program


Last month during the AGU Fall Meeting, we recognized 174 individuals for their achievements in the Earth and space sciences. I encourage you to visit the 2021 Award Showcase to learn more about the honorees and their contributions to our community.

I was struck not only by the achievements of our colleagues, but that several of this year’s honorees specifically recognized the role of good mentors in their careers, and the fulfillment of working with students and early career scientists.  

For me, this underscored our commitment to work together as a community to continue to improve the AGU honors and recognition program, which is open for nominations for medals, awards, prizes, fellows and section awards starting today, 18 January, through 1 April.

We know we are a stronger and better community when we work together and when we uplift others. That is why this year, I am personally asking all of you to work to ensure the AGU honors program represents our values of integrity, respect, diversity, collaboration, and education and outreach.

The AGU Board approved several changes to the Fellows program to align the nomination process more closely with AGU’s values.

  • Expansion of the criteria for fellows to reflect growth in data science and its impact on the profession.
  • Created opportunities to recognize the full and diverse breadth of exceptional contributions and accomplishments in the Earth and space sciences community by adding a statement at the end of the nomination packet to reflect the candidate’s alignment with AGU values.
  • As AGU creates new sections and works to take our science from being usable to being used, the Board also felt it was important to review and enhance the fellows criteria to better align with AGU’s strategic plan.
  • Beginning in 2022, Section Fellows review committees and the Union Fellows selection committee will evaluate nomination packages using an updated standardized evaluation form. Feedback from committee chairs and members called for a more consistent approach to evaluation. Guidance for nominators can be found on the Fellows FAQ webpage.

In addition to changes to the Fellows program, the AGU Honors and Recognition Committee has made updates to the honors program to better showcase the depth and breadth of our community’s achievements around the world.

  • The Career Stage Eligibility Requirement Allowance Policy was updated to include a COVID-19 Impact Clause that recognizes the serious challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on the Earth and space sciences community. Given this unique circumstance, AGU will consider allowances to the career stage eligibility requirement for nominees whose work conditions have been impacted by the pandemic.
  • The Science and Society Section has established the Science and Society Team Award, given to a team in recognition of the equitable co-creation of solution-oriented scientific knowledge for societal impact.
  • The new Union-level Eunice Foote Medal for Earth-Life Science recognizes outstanding creative contributions to knowledge at the intersection of the Earth and life sciences.
  • The Cesare Emiliani Lecture is now solely under the purview of the Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology section.
  • Nominations for the Biogeosciences Section’s Sulzman Award for Excellence Through Education and Mentoring are now open to all AGU members that have pursued careers related to biogeosciences. Nominees must be an early career to mid-career scientist between 10-20 years of receiving their PhD or highest equivalent terminal degree.
  • Robert C. Cowen Award for Sustained Achievement in Science Journalism refined its criteria to encourage nominations from any country and in any language, recognize nominees’ contributions to improve diversity in journalism and science, and clarify that eligible nominations must reflect independent science journalism.

In 2022, the Honors and Recognition committee is also focusing on an audit of AGU’s Union-level honors and developing a path forward for the program that recognizes the diversity of achievements in Earth and space sciences that our fellow scientists, leaders, educators, journalists and communicators are engaged in around the world.

We hope these changes will help improve the diversity of our honors nominations, but we cannot do it alone. If we want to create a more diverse and inclusive community, every single one of us needs to actively be a part of the solution.

This year, I ask all of you to join me in considering how you will use this nomination period to help create the Earth and space sciences community that we all want to see. I look forward to what the new year has to bring and I am excited to see your nominations in the coming weeks.

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