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Keynotes and Plenaries

Plenaries and Panels

#AGU20 features an exciting array of plenary talks and panels covering a diverse range of Earth and space science and science-society topics. World-leading scientists and administrators will speak about shaping the future of science -- from public-science efforts to highlighting how to expand diversity, equity and inclusion, from the future of universities to new areas of convergent science -- and about the development of AGU’s new strategic plan. Return to this page for even more speaker announcements as the meeting approaches.

A Panel Discussion of the Implications for the Scientific Enterprise in the Aftermath of the 2020 U.S. Election

US Capitol 

Tuesday, 1 December 2020 (8:00 – 9:00 PT)

A panel of experts explores the big challenges and critical opportunities brought on by the 2020 election in the U.S.

Plenary Panel: Toxic Ivory Towers and Conversations with Underrepresented Voices

Kendall Moore thumbnail

Thursday, 3 December 2020 (8:00 – 9:00 PT)

Join filmmaker and professor Kendall Moore to discuss her insightful and award-winning work exploring the issue of ‘social belonging’ in the context of STEM.


Presidential Forum Lecture: Leland Melvin

Leland Melvin

Monday, 7 December 2020 (9:00 – 10:00 PT)

Join two-time Space Shuttle Atlantis mission specialist Leland Melvin as he shares his inspirational story of achievement -- from college football to NASA astronaut to STEAM advocate.


Featured Plenary: Dr. Rita Colwell

Rita Cowell

Wednesday, 9 December 2020 (9:00 – 10:00 PT)

Explore the successes of Dr. Rita Colwell, author of more than 800 scientific publications in the areas of global infectious diseases, water and health.


Featured Plenary: Dr. Howard Frumkin

Leland Melvin

Friday, 11 December 2020 (9:00 – 10:00 PT)

Hear from Dr. Howard Frumkin, internist and epidemiologist, as he discusses the emerging field of planetary health and the complex interlinkages between human health and environmental change.


Panel Discussion on University Challenges in the Time of Covid

looking out over marshy artic landscape from helicopter 

Monday, 14 December 2020 (16:00 – 17:00 PT)

Five distinguished Earth science university presidents and directors discuss the future of academia, building and rewarding talent, connecting with society, and the role of scholarly societies.


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from an International AGU Perspective: A Panel Discussion of a Global Issue from a Non-U.S. World View

Rock formation shining under a galaxy of stars

Wednesday, 16 December 2020 (8:30 – 9:30 PT)

Explore international perspectives on inclusive science priorities with a global panel as AGU works to adopt a strategic goal of diversity, inclusion, equity, ethics and cultural awareness in all our activities.


Plenary Panel: The Solution Space:
Finding Sustainable Pathways for the Amazon

Brazilian savannah

Wednesday, 2 December 2020 (8:00 – 9:00 PT)

Hear from panelists on the urgency of action needed to build a new vision of sustainable development for the Amazon.


Featured Plenary: Dr. Freeman Hrabowski

Freeman Hrabowski

Friday, 4 December 2020 (8:00 – 9:00 PT)

Learn from Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, a passionate advocate for inclusive excellence and STEM at UMBC, where he has served as president since 1992.


Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture: Hearts in the Ice

Hearts in the Ice

Tuesday, 8 December 2020 (9:00 – 10:00 PT)

Hear directly from two "polar ambassadors," living 140km away from civilization but engaging students, scientists and industry with their story about the health of our planet.


Agency Lecture: Director Sethuraman Panchanathan

Sethuraman Panchanathan

Thursday, 10 December 2020 (9:00 – 10:00 PT)

Join NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan as he shares insights from his distinguished career in both higher education and government.


Featured Plenary: Andrea Wulf

Andrea Wulf headshot

Monday, 14 December 2020 (8:30 – 9:30 PT)

Revisit the tremendous accomplishments of Alexander von Humboldt with award-winning author Andrea Wulf, author of two recent books on the German naturalist and explorer.


Community Science Plenary: Dr. John Fitzpatrick    

John Fitzpatrick thumbnail

Tuesday, 15 December 2020 (8:30 – 9:30 PT)

Explore the application of community science principles to the study and appreciation of birds with Dr. John Fitzpatrick, noted ornithologist and executive director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.