Matthew Kirby

Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology



Professor, California State University, Fullerton, CA, 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.

I am a first-generation college graduate and professor at a large (~40,000 students), public Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) in Southern California (California State University, Fullerton, CSUF). I have extensive experience teaching and mentoring historically underrepresented students in the geological sciences. The quality of our undergraduates’ experiences is critical to developing future scientists (and citizen scientists) in our respective fields. Here at CSUF, we work hard to make the undergraduate research experience real and impactful. In fact, our department requires that every B.S. student complete a research proposal and thesis to graduate. Being married to an academic, I am personally invested in issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), especially as they impact women and other historically underrepresented populations in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Finally, I have completed the Unlearning Racism in Geoscience (URGE) Program, broadening my knowledge of DEI and my role as a difference-maker. I intend to bring these years of experience to my leadership position if elected as President of the Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology (PP) section.

Volunteer experience that relates to this position:

1) 2017 & 2018 Secretary: Elected AGU Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology Focus Group Secretary (2-year term)
2) 2015 & 2016 Outstanding Student Presentation Award (OSPA) Section Liaison - AGU Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology 
3) 2015 & 2016 Executive Committee - AGU Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology
4) 2015 & 2016 Award Committee - AGU Willi Dansgaard Mid-Career Award
5) 2018 & 2019 Award Committee - AGU Harry Elderfield Student Paper Award Committee
6) 2021-2022 Committee Member: CSUF College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (CNSM) DEI Committee for Undergraduate Research


This leadership position is a liaison role; it is one that aims to catalyze community and build AGU as envisioned by the strategic plan. How will you engage with members of your section to advance AGU’s strategic plan? How will you facilitate engagement with other sections and people outside AGU to support our mission?

As a first-generation college graduate and professor at a large, public HSI, I will provide non-R1 perspectives and experiences as president. Leveraging my experiences, I will focus on 2 parts of the AGU strategic plan: 1) promoting/exemplifying an inclusive scientific culture and 2) partnering broadly with other organizations/sectors to address scientific/societal challenges.

The geological sciences are grossly underrepresented culturally, demographically, and socioeconomically. This underrepresentation is exacerbated through graduate school and into the professional ranks. As president, I see an opportunity to “diversify our talent pool so that individuals of all backgrounds are equitably included and valued.” This diversification must originate at the undergraduate level. To do so requires a commitment from the PP section (and AGU broadly) to recruit/fund undergraduate participation at the AGU meeting, including on-site (off-site) mentoring, specialized undergraduate poster/oral sessions, and post-meeting follow-ups/assessments. For example, the meeting’s cost is prohibitive for many undergraduates and their professors, thus reinforcing the barriers that already exist for historically underrepresented populations.

Next, I would like to see a more meaningful investment in “science education, outreach, and engagement” from the PP section, particularly with historically underrepresented communities. For example, can we partner with the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), and the National Association of Black Geoscientists (NABGG; and other groups) to encourage a more diverse attendance and develop a more impactful mentoring plan?

Due to a 250-word limit, I cannot expand on these ideas. However, be sure that – if elected – I will make issues of representation, diversification, and mentoring key to my stay.

Section affiliations:

Global Environmental Change; Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology