Gifford Wong




Research Staff Member, Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI), Washington, D.C., USA

Volunteer experience that relates to this position:

Volunteer experience is focused on science communication and science policy and includes serving on the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) program’s Science Steering Committee; facilitating improv-based science communication sessions (e.g., AGU’s Voices for Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellows, Next Generation Polar Research Conference (2019), Dartmouth College, Jackson School of Geosciences); routinely briefing young scientists and scholars on science policy opportunities; and serving as a poster judge.


Council members play critical roles as communication conduits among AGU members and leaders. How will you engage with members of your section to advance AGU’s new strategic plan? How might you facilitate engagement with other sections and people outside AGU to support our mission?

Effective communication and community building, especially now within the maelstrom of a global pandemic, may be challenging given the nature of AGU membership (e.g., numerous subdisciplines, spectrum of career stages, global network). As we stare into AGU’s second century, I’m excited to engage members of the Cryosphere section with compassion and enthusiasm while leveraging lessons learned throughout AGU’s first century.

Firstly, let’s build upon existing efforts of engagement with Cryosphere section members, amplifying effective communication approaches and refining our reliance on technology where appropriate. Emails and e-newsletters will continue to disseminate information and maintain situational awareness, and I would work with leadership to keep their frequency amenable and length lean. I would encourage the continued use of video teleconferencing options — to maximize team building and facilitate Cryosphere section project work — while acknowledging and addressing connectivity issues.

Secondly, I would cultivate a culture of compassion within the Cryosphere section to help build a sustainable science village that is welcoming and inclusive. We'd leverage interactive communication (e.g., social media, online surveys, topical town hall sessions) to build an intersectional approach to inter-AGU science section cohesion. Our efforts could be grounded in active listening — as Alan Alda said, “Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you.”

Looking forward, I sense we're buoyed by the implicit promise that our science will positively address emerging global issues and buffeted by unthinkable societal challenges (e.g., systemic racism, injustice). Let’s rise together and be agents of the change we have been seeking.

Section affiliations:
Cryosphere; Global Environmental Change; Natural Hazards; Science and Society