Rachel Abercrombie




Research Associate Professor, Boston University, Boston, MA, 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 think of myself as English, where I was born, and grew up and attended school and university. I was the first in my family to study for a Ph.D. Since graduating, I have lived on both coasts of the USA, and in New Zealand; I have experience working in research and tenure-track academic positions, as well as for a government agency. I have also had the privilege of visiting and working with colleagues from multiple continents. Almost twenty years ago I left my tenured position at Boston University for a part-time research faculty appointment to enable me to balance work and family life while living far from other family, and spend time with my young children. Now they are grown, I have more time to contribute to the professional community that has supported me throughout my working life. My varied career path, experiences, and choices enable me to identify with those pursuing a scientific career whilst also reaching their own personal work and family life balance.

Volunteer experience that relates to this position:

Editor of Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 2020-present, handling manuscripts relating to seismology and earthquake science. AGU Seismology section Fellows Committee, 2021-present; AGU Fall Meeting Program Committee 2000-2001. Member of the Scientific Earthquake Studies Advisory Committee, established to advise the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on matters relating to the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) 2021-2024. Board of Directors Southern California Earthquake Center (a National Science Foundation (NSF) and USGS Center), representing Participating Institutions, 2018-present. Seismological Society of America: Vice President 2007-2009, Board of Directors, 2003-2005.


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?

The AGU is the largest professional society for seismologists and those engaged in the multi-disciplinary study of earthquake science and Earth structure. It is our organization and its mission is to support our broad community in its scientific endeavors. The pandemic and its related restrictions have affected all of us, but far from equally, limiting travel, productivity and interaction. I will work to help rebuild and strengthen our community and engage in supporting those most adversely affected, including many students and early career scientists. I will also focus on increasing the diversity of our community, ensuring that everyone feels welcome and respected. I will explore how to use the recent increase in online communication tools to our advantage, in particular in improving accessibility. I will work to connect the AGU leadership with its members, to ensure that AGU and its journals, meetings, and other activities meet the needs of the international seismological community. As a consequence of my personal experiences and career choices my own work has become largely collaborative, engaging with and connecting those with related interests who can help one another. The multi-disciplinary nature of our science means many members of the Seismology section are also members of other sections, and involved with other groups; I will work with these natural connections to improve engagement, between sections and beyond AGU. I propose to use a combination of online media tools, in-person meetings and informal contacts to listen to and communicate with our community.

Section affiliations:

Ocean Sciences; Seismology; Tectonophysics