Edward A. Flinn III Award

Barbara L. Giles

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center



Of all my many AGU colleagues, Barbara Giles best personifies the Flinn Award criterion of unselfish cooperation in research through facilitating, coordinating, and implementing activities. Instead of simply advancing NASA science missions as has often been her job, Barbara has worked tirelessly to ensure that the interests of our broader scientific community were well served. As a community, we claim victory for all our space science missions, but it is also important to recognize when individuals go beyond their mandates to make these missions great successes.

Barbara began her career in space science with instrument operations and data processing on the NASA Dynamics Explorer and Polar missions. She moved to the position of Polar deputy project scientist and then project scientist for the mission. In that capacity, she led a major successful overhaul of the Polar mission ground system in the face of severe budget cuts, thereby maintaining the high productivity of the mission. 

Barbara then served nine productive years at NASA Headquarters helping to shape the entire Heliophysics Division’s strategic future. Barbara led the development of two well-respected Heliophysics Roadmaps and led the Heliophysics Subcommittee for many years, keeping the Heliophysics identity at HQ intact when it had been absorbed into the Earth Science Division, so that after 2 years the return to a separate division became obvious and seamless. Without Barbara’s leadership, the momentum behind our discipline’s push for full recognition of the Heliophysics System Observatory and our space weather programs may have dissipated rather than flourishing as they are today. 

Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) is a large strategic mission for heliophysics. Recognizing that an effective interface between the science team and the mission and science operations activities did not exist, she rapidly and effectively had a smoothly operating system in place before launch. MMS has a scientist-in-the-loop function through which ~5% of the burst-mode data are selected for transmission to Earth. Barbara organized this activity, including training the scientists who perform this crucial function. Without Barbara's leadership and tireless efforts on these important activities, MMS would have been in real trouble. But now, 5 years after launch, every aspect of MMS is working very well.

While now serving as instrument lead and project scientist for MMS, Barbara continues her quest to optimize the success of NASA space science missions by motivating the highest level of cooperation within and among them.

James Burch, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas



The Edward A. Flinn III award recognizes those who build and maintain our scientific infrastructures. I am grateful and honored to have been chosen to represent one part of the solar and space physics community’s work toward that goal. We are all most content when we are at an AGU Fall Meeting and the science from a newly launched mission washes over us. Many dedicated people make this happen, and I have always felt it a great privilege to be able to contribute.

I share this award with everyone who enabled our Heliophysics System Observatory of missions and the underlying research that drives them. There have been many heroes over the years. I’ll begin by recognizing those who spend countless hours serving on roadmaps, decadal surveys, advisory committees, and review panels. It is through these peer review processes that we ensure the most valuable science questions are pursued. Our most important missions are created through these efforts. 

We applaud the engineering and technical teams that build our flight experiments. Whether universityled, instituteled, or centerled, every mission brings technical challenges, and in meeting those, the technologists across our community have built a solid reputation for quality. I regularly admire the professionalism displayed by our mission operation centers and the ingenuity of our flight dynamics, attitude control, thermal, power, and flight safety teams. These are the teams that bring us our data, and it is fitting we reach back to them and share our appreciation.

We treasure those who quietly work at calibration and data delivery, who create the value-added data products, event simulations, software libraries, and the archiving standards that stitch it all together for the rest of us to use. We also send our appreciation to those serving as agency program executives and program scientists. It is underrecognized and time-consuming work. We all benefit when community members pause their scientific careers to serve in these positions. Let us lend them support, especially as they lead us in preparations for the next decadal survey.

In closing, know that I am deeply honored by this award. I am grateful for the encouragement and support of my wonderful family, who made it possible for me to have this career. I am pleased to accept this award on behalf of all those who have worked toward this amazing constellation of space weather missions.

Barbara L. Giles, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.