Joe O'Rourke

Study of the Earth's Deep Interior



Assistant Professor, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

AGU embraces the global community and welcomes diverse leaders from around the world, representing various identities, voices, and perspectives. List any identities, voices, and perspectives you would bring, including but not limited to nationality, regional representations, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and any other identity you feel comfortable sharing.

My identities—a white cishet male college professor whose parents were both college professors—are quite well-represented in AGU. Because I have benefited from my privileged position on these identity axes, I strongly believe that I have a duty to help remove barriers facing others.

Volunteer experience that relates to this position:

2020–2022, National Academies, Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023–2032, Panel on Venus.
2021–2022, Unlearning Racism in Geoscience (URGE), Co-Leader of the Arizona State University (ASU) School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) Pod.
2017–2021, NASA Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG), Steering Committee and Early Career Scholars Group.


As one of the elected leaders of your section, how will you partner with your president and president-elect to communicate with and engage your members to help implement AGU’s strategic plan including its mission and vision?

I am running for Study of the Earth’s Deep Interior (SEDI) Secretary to help advance interdisciplinary science and to support early career scientists. SEDI is a small-but-mighty section in AGU that provides the connective tissue for a global community. My own research focuses on applying lessons learned from studying Earth’s deep interior to other (exo)planets and leveraging planetary science to study our home world.

The SEDI Secretary typically manages the Outstanding Student Presentation Awards (OSPA) program at the Fall Meeting—and supports the selection of the SEDI Section Award for Graduate Research. My main objective would be to support AGU’s second strategic goal: “Promote and exemplify an inclusive scientific culture.” AGU awards are valuable to early career scientists, but often amplify existing advantages. I would take actions to level the playing field, including:

Ensure that all OSPA student presenters receive complete, quality evaluations. Judges are often more apt to visit presentations from students with high-profile advisors, etc. I would recruit a pool of SEDI judges who commit to evaluating students who may otherwise be effectively disqualified due to biases in the volunteer process for judges.

Broaden nominations for the Graduate Research Award. Proactively nominating “deserving but overlooked members” promotes equal representation in awards (e.g., Jaynes et al. 2019, Eos). I would work to help recruit a group (including past recipients of the award, like myself) to find and nominate graduate students from diverse backgrounds who are doing amazing research relevant to SEDI.

SEDI has been a fun, supportive community for me—and it should be the same for everyone.

Section affiliations:

Planetary Sciences; Study of the Earth’s Deep Interior