Yuhan "Douglas" Rao

AGU Council Student and Early Career Positions

Early Career Scientist I


Research Scientist, North Carolina State University, Asheville, NC, 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.

As a first-generation college student, I wish I could have had better mentoring and support during the early part of my research. Mentoring played a notable role in my career, including the mentoring opportunities that I got from AGU programs and informal communities. I received my college and early research training in China and moved to the U.S. to pursue my doctoral degree. I understand different cultural perspectives and their impacts on students and early career scientists.

Volunteer experience that relates to this position:

I am an executive committee member of the Young Earth System Scientist community since 2019 to foster the development of international leaders of early career researchers. From 2019 to 2022, I served as the chair of the AGU Student and Early Career Conference. I am also a Thriving Earth Exchange fellow working with a community in California to develop tools to help the community understand the health impact of green spaces.


This leadership position is a liaison role; it aims to catalyze community and build AGU as envisioned by the strategic plan. How will you engage with other students and early career scientists to share, and solicit inputs to, important strategic discussions and actions being undertaken by the Council? Relating to AGU’s strategic plan, what features of the plan do you think are most exciting for the student and early career communities to engage with and advance?

To really address the scientific and societal challenges as outlined in AGU's strategic plan, we need a diverse and inclusive workforce for Earth and space sciences and beyond. Students and early career geoscientists make up one-third of the active AGU membership and are very conscious of the gaps in diversity and inclusivity in our research enterprise and society. I believe it is crucial to actively involve students and early career researchers as champions for the change outlined by AGU's strategic plan. This requires AGU to provide platforms and resources to support and inspire students and early career scientists to share their voices and implement actions that can foster an inclusive community. 

Engaging with the broad students and early career scientists requires a broad partnership with all AGU sections and other existing networks for different research fields (e.g., Young Hydrologic Society, Young Earth System Scientists, and others). I believe it is important for AGU to proactively coordinate and partner with sections and these active early career networks to amplify the voice and actions from students and early career members. But developing partnerships will be a journey based on trust and a shared vision. 

"Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference." This is a quote from Dr. Jane Goodall that has inspired me since my college time. I hope to represent the voice of my early career peers including students during the implementation of AGU's strategic plan toward a thriving, sustainable, and equitable geoscience enterprise and society.

Section affiliations:

Atmospheric Sciences; Biogeosciences; Earth and Planetary Surface Processes; Earth and Space Science Informatics; Education; GeoHealth; Global Environmental Change; Hydrology; Nonlinear Geophysics; Science and Society