Catherine L. Johnson

AGU Board of Directors

Director II


Professor, University of British Columbia, and Senior Scientist, Planetary Science Institute, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Volunteer experience that relates to this position: 

Geomagnetism, Paleomagnetism and Electromagnetism (GPE) section president, GPE president-elect, fall meeting program chair, AGU awards committees familiar with AGU’s governance model and the strategic planning process; NASA mission science leadership roles (MESSENGER, Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) willingness to be flexible, to anticipate needs, opportunities and potential problems, to work in the collective, to communicate well, to act with integrity and transparency; many aspects of outreach, including fundraising for Pacific Museum of Earth (https://pme.ubc.ca).


The AGU strategic plan represents a significant pivot for AGU. Board members must work together with each other, other volunteer leaders, and staff to play a key role in implementing the plan. What are the key features of the strategic plan that you find most exciting? What features do you think will be most challenging? As a Board member how would you advance the strategic plan?


The current global pandemic has made it clear that cultivating and maintaining a culture of trust in evidence-based science is critical for ensuring the health and economic well-being of individuals and communities. The strategic plan goals encompass many things about which I am passionate: geoscience and its role in our lives, sharing the excitement of Earth and space science, ensuring that science has a role in decision-making, understanding how scientists and local communities can work together to improve opportunities and quality of life. I see partnerships as a key part of this, in particular ones that can be appropriately modified for specific local cultures and communities. AGU has a strong foundation (our broad membership, values, long-standing excellence in research, new initiatives such as The Thriving Earth Exchange) for implementing such partnerships and collaborations effectively. Practical programs, e.g., grants and mentorships, are needed to ensure that anyone in the AGU community can participate equally. A challenge for the strategic plan implementation will be retaining a clear identity as a professional association with unique core strengths while broadening these collaborations. Furthermore, the balance and connectivity between discovery and solution-based science will be tricky. For example, solution-based science may require partnerships that are controversial among our members. As a Board member I would offer a broad and inclusive perspective, drawing on my volunteer experience to date and on my leadership of an international research group that has members from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas.

Section affiliations:

Geomagnetism, Paleomagnetism and Electromagnetism; Planetary Sciences; Study of the Earth's Deep Interior