John Balbus




Senior Advisor for Public Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Volunteer experience that relates to this position:

I helped create and then chaired (2013-2018) the Board on Environment and Health within the American Meteorological Society and also chaired the Climate Change Committee within the American Public Health Association (APHA). In addition, I chaired the Policy Committee for the Environment section of the APHA, leading writing and passage of policy statements at the APHA governing council. I serve as an editor of the GeoHealth journal, helping connect the section to that publication.


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?

My vision for the AGU GeoHealth section is that is becomes the world's source of transdisciplinary collaborative expertise on climate, environment and health challenges. The section is already on its way to achieving this vision and will be guided by the new AGU strategic plan in coming years.

Specifically, the members of the GeoHealth section can contribute across the three goals and 12 strategies of the plan in these ways, as examples:

  • Innovative programming (competitions, special sessions and speakers) that can both raise the visibility of the section within AGU and bring a health voice to efforts to increase public trust in science. 
  • We must create a cross-sectional task team on diversity and inclusion to focus on engaging underrepresented minorities in science and facilitating more participation in section activities. This can include outreach to historically Black colleges and universities for webinars and other programming, student competitions, mentoring programs and other forms of outreach.
  • Strengthen collaboration with the Thriving Earth Exchange to raise the visibility of climate, environment and health science at the community level and health-promoting scientific solutions in our transdisciplinary space.

I would work with the section to build stronger partnerships with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, potentially collaborating with them on high-profile conferences and workshops. Finally, I would emphasize continued outreach and partnership with environmental health professional societies (AMS, APHA, CSTE/NACCHO/ASTHO, NEHA, SOT, etc.) for joint programming and collaborations on high-profile conferences.

Section affiliations:

GeoHealth; Global Environmental Change