Ambassador Award

Erika Marín-Spiotta

University of Wisconsin-Madison


Citation for Erika Marín-Spiotta

Professor Erika Marín-Spiotta is an outstanding scholar, globally recognized for her groundbreaking contributions to multiple areas of Earth and environmental sciences, including terrestrial carbon cycle dynamics; mechanisms of soil organic matter formation, stabilization, and turnover; ecosystem dynamics in postagricultural tropical landscapes; and biogeochemical transformations across terrestrial and aquatic boundaries. Erika is an interdisciplinary scientist whose research draws from biogeochemistry, ecosystem ecology, soil science, and biogeography. Her research cuts across multiple spatial scales: from microscopic interactions between organic matter and mineral surfaces in soils, to stand-level forest dynamics, to regional soil carbon inventories. In addition to leading a very successful research program at the University of WisconsinMadison, she has greatly contributed toward efforts that determined how to incorporate the role of forest biodiversity and biogeochemical cycling in tropical systems in Earth system and climate models; established the role of biodiversity in biogeochemical cycling of essential elements; conducted large-scale syntheses on the carbon cycle or mechanisms of soil organic matter stabilization; and more. 

Erika personifies the spirit of the AGU Ambassador Award. She works tirelessly, making unparalleled contributions to the Earth and space science community, and society in general, through her outreach, advocacy, leadership, and mentoring. Erika is an impactful and exemplary leader with an extensive record of service as a mentor and champion for equity and justice in our scientific community. She helped lead the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) for over a decade, where she played a critical role in establishing online mentoring resources and developing a series of professional development workshops for early-career geoscientists. She is a dedicated mentor and adviser for numerous and diverse groups of early-career researchers in her group and beyond. She pioneered efforts to increase the recruitment, retention, and promotion of marginalized communities in the geosciences. Erika is currently leading the ADVANCEGeo Partnership that works to empower geoscientists to transform workplace climates and address harassment. She has led efforts to develop bystander intervention and workplace climate training to address hostile climates that contribute to the persistent low retention of women and people of color in the geosciences. She set the standard for how our scientific community should address harassment and discrimination in her invited article in Nature arguing for considering harassment as scientific misconduct. 

Erika is, without doubt, a unique, brilliant, positive, and transformational force in our scientific community. 

—Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, University of California, Merced



I am honored to receive the Ambassador Award from AGU in recognition of contributions to societal impact, scientific leadership, and service to our community. It is especially an honor to be recognized by my colleagues. I appreciate all the labor that went into the nomination and writing the letters of support. Thank you.

This award represents work done by a community of leaders. I would like to recognize partners in ESWN, the Association for Women Geoscientists, and AGU for being willing to take risks. I am humbled by the hard work and strength of my friends in ADVANCEGeo, who motivate me every day. My research and leadership have been supported by an incredible team of graduate and undergraduate students over the years, who have embodied the importance of peer mentorship. I have been fortunate to land in an institution that values interdisciplinary and community-focused work. To my #biogeofeminists, thank you for being role models. My family provides continuous support and joy for all my endeavors.

We are at a critical time in society and in the geosciences. I strive to continue listening to, learning from, and supporting a large and diverse community of Earth and space scientists and educators who are stepping outside of disciplinary boxes and building partnerships to push each other and our organizations to imagine and put into action a vision where everyone can feel safe and inspired to pursue a geoscience education and career.

Erika Marín Spiotta, University of WisconsinMadison