Schedule & Events

Keynotes and Plenaries

#AGU22 will feature 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 leaders will weave in the theme "Science Leads the Future" in their remarks to show how important science is to everything, from public science efforts to highlighting how to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion and from the future of universities to new areas of convergent science.

Visit this page regularly to see the latest keynote speaker announcements.

Presidential Keynote Lecture
12-December, 2022
Carlos Alvarado Quesada
48th President of Costa Rica
Costa Rica

President Carlos Alvarado is the 48th President of the Republic of Costa Rica. He was inaugurated into office on May 9, 2018. He was born in San José, Costa Rica on January 14, 1980, and is a professor, politician and author. He studied journalism at the University of Costa Rica, and holds a master’s degree in Political Science from the same university and has a master’s degree in Development Studies from the University of Sussex in England.

President Alvarado is an expert in communication, public policy and public-private partnerships with five years of experience in political communication and parliamentary advisory. He has taught communication at the School of Social Science at the University of Costa Rica and the Latina University of Costa Rica. He also served as an advisor to the Citizen Action Party's group in the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica f rom 2006 to 2010. During the Solís Rivera administration, Alvarado served as Minister of Human Development and Social Inclusion and Executive President of the Joint Social Welfare Institute, institution charged with combating poverty and giving state aid to the population of scarce resources. Then in 2016, Alvarado was appointed Minister of Labor and Social Security.

Shermann “Dilla” Thomas
Chicago Historian
Chicago, IL
Presidential Forum Lecture
Monday, 12 December 2022
12:45PM (CT)
Grand Ballroom, McCormick Place

Shermann “Dilla” Thomas is a fascinating blend of modern historian, cultural worker, and public employee. A life-long resident of Chicago’s south side Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, Dilla attended Calumet high but graduated from Olive-Harvey Middle College, an alternative high school located in a branch of the city colleges. He went on to study English and African American studies at Eastern Illinois University, where he was initiated into Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. An employee of Chicago area power utility ComEd since 2011, Dilla began making Tik-Tok videos in an effort to bond with one of his 7 children. Like every parent, Shermann “Dilla” Thomas is always on the lookout for ways to engage his children. So when his then 8-year-old daughter suggested a father/daughter collaboration to produce Tik-Tok dance videos, he was both elated and perplexed. Elated at the opportunity to use social media as a medium to bond with his daughter; perplexed by the persistent thought that he might do something more substantive with his efforts to produce content.

Perhaps due to a yeoman effort to keep his dance moves off the internets, Dilla came up with the novel idea of producing short videos focusing on the history of Chicago. A subject he has been independently studying for 20 years. The rest of the story is, as they say, history. Dilla’s followers now have reached 83,000 on the platform, and he has tens of thousands on Twitter and Instagram. He is blue check verified on all 3 platforms. His name on social media, @6figga_dilla, comes from his love of the employment trades, as he believes that you can reach monetary success (or six figures) there just as quickly as if you became a doctor or a lawyer. Although Dilla’s focus is aimed squarely at underexposed aspects of Black Chicago, his work continually reveals the rich tapestry of Chicago's overall history. Anchored in the background as son of a policemen, Dilla's philosophy is "Everything Dope about America comes from Chicago, the greatest city on earth."

Climate Action in Global Cities
Chicago, IL
Innovation Session
Tuesday, 13 December 2022
10:00AM (CT)
McCormick Place - Grand Ballroom S100 (South, Level 1)

Climate change is impacting urban infrastructure, economic development, and public health. Over the last decade, cities at the bottom levels of governance have taken leadership to speed up the process of climate action. Cities in partnerships with research, academic institutions, and consultancies are developing climate mitigation and adaptation plans that remain poorly resourced. The development of these plans, primarily informed by various IPCC reports, poses challenges in making them actionable at the urban scale. However, this confluence of bottom-up climate action from cities across the globe and top-down environmental leadership from national and international bodies can accelerate our goals for net-zero emissions and provide equitable climate adaptation.

As part of this session, representatives from science-education-policy cross-connections discussed climate action in global cities with a regional focus and share their experiences, challenges, successes, and vision for inclusive growth of all sections of society.


Ashish Sharma, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign – Moderator

Lori Lightfoot, Mayor of Chicago, Ill.

Rafeal Tuts, United Nations Human Settlements Programme

Jaime Pumarejo, Mayor of Barranquilla, Colombia

Kunal Kumar, Smart Cities Initiative, India

Luis Bettencourt, University of Chicago – Moderator

Edith Makra, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus

Silvia Weidenbacher, Verband Region Stuttgart, Germany

Akshara Kaginalkar, Indian Smart Cities, India

Babak Tafreshi
Science photographer & cinematographer
Boston, MA
Featured Plenary
Tuesday, 13 December 2022
12:45PM (CT)
Grand Ballroom, McCormick Place

Babak Tafreshi is an Iranian-American science photographer, cinematographer, and National Geographic explorer. Since 2007, Tafreshi has directed The World at Night program with a team of leading night sky photographers across nearly 20 countries. The program’s mission to reveal the value of natural dark skies and impact of light pollution was captured through The World at Night, a book authored by Tafreshi and published in multiple languages. Tafreshi uses visual stories, timelapse motion, and virtual reality to create an understandable portal to wonders of Earth and sky. His work is recognized by the 2022 National Geographic Wayfinder Award, the Royal Photography Society Award for Scientific Imaging, and the 2009 Lennart Nilsson Award. In addition, the International Astronomical Union named the 2-km minor planet 276163 after Tafreshi.

Born in 1978 in Tehran, his passion for the night sky started in childhood with the first look at the moon through a telescope. He studied physics and worked as an astronomy and space journalist at Iranian astronomy magazine from 1997 to 2007, and presented in more than 100 TV programs and documentaries. He left Iran in 2011 and currently lives near Boston.

@babaktafreshi |

Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe
Director of the Office of Science
U.S. Department of Energy
Agency Lecture
Wednesday, 14 December 2022
12:45PM (CT)
Grand Ballroom, McCormick Place

Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe is the Director of the Office of Science for the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Berhe was most recently a Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry; the Ted and Jan Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences and Geology; and Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Education at the University of California, Merced. Her research was at the intersection of soil science, global change science, and political ecology with an emphasis on how the soil system regulates the earth’s climate and the dynamic two-way relationship between the natural environment and human communities.

She previously served as the Chair of the US National Committee on Soil Science at the National Academies; was a Leadership board member for the Earth Science Women’s Network; and is currently a co-principal investigator in the ADVANCEGeo Partnership — a National Science Foundation funded effort to empower (geo)scientists to respond to and prevent harassment, discrimination, bullying and other exclusionary behaviors in research environments. Her scholarship on how physical processes such as erosion, fire, and changes in climate affect the biogeochemical cycling of essential elements in the earth system and her efforts to ensure equity and inclusion of people from all walks of life in the scientific enterprise have received numerous awards and honors. She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America, and a member of the inaugural class of the US National Academies New Voices in Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

Berhe was born and raised in Asmara, Eritrea. She received a B.Sc. in Soil and Water Conservation from the University of Asmara, an M.Sc. in Political Ecology from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in Biogeochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2020 she was named a Great Immigrant, Great American by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Dr. Carlos Nobre
Earth System Scientist
Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture
Thursday, 15 December 2022
09:00AM (CT)
Grand Ballroom, McCormick Place

Carlos Nobre is an Earth System scientist from Brazil, currently associated with Institute for Advanced Studies, USP. He obtained a PhD in Meteorology at MIT in 1983. Nobre’s work mostly focus on the Amazon and its impacts on the Earth system. He chaired the Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA). He has been a co-author of several IPCC reports, including the 2007 report that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was director of Center of Weather Prediction and Climate Studies (CPTEC-INPE), and the creator of Center for Earth System Science (CCST-INPE) and of the National Center for Monitoring and Early Warning of Natural Disasters (CEMADEN). He was National Secretary for R&D Policies at Brazil’s Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation and President of Brazil’s Agency for Post-Graduate Education (CAPES). He is co-chair of the Science Panel for the Amazon ( and the director of the Amazonia 4.0 project to promote a standing forest bioeconomy for the Amazon ( He was International Secretary of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). He is a foreign member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, and full member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and the World Academy of Sciences. He was awarded several prizes including the Volvo Environmental Prize and the AAAS Science Diplomacy Award.

Dr. Mika Tosca
Climate Scientist
Chicago, IL
Art & Science Plenary
Thursday, 15 December 2022
12:45PM (CT)
Grand Ballroom, McCormick Place

Dr. Mika Tosca is a trained climate scientist and Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She imagines ways that artists and designers can collaborate with climate scientists to better communicate and conduct climate science research.

She has been invited to speak on the role of scientists, artists, and citizens in building post-climate change worlds, and continues to be vocal about the urgency of addressing the climate crisis.

Right arrow icon in blue circle Learn More About the Art and Science Plenary
Dr. Alexander Szalay
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor
Chicago, IL
Open Science Plenary (Pre-recorded)
Friday, 16 December 2022
12:45PM (CT)
Grand Ballroom, McCormick Place

Alexander Szalay is the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at the Johns Hopkins University, with a joint appointment in the Departments of Physics and Astronomy and Computer Science. He is the Director of the Institute for Data Intensive Science and Engineering (IDIES). He is a cosmologist, working on the statistical measures of the spatial distribution of galaxies and galaxy formation. He has been the architect for the archive of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He is a Corresponding Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2004 he received an Alexander Von Humboldt Award in Physical Sciences, in 2007 the Microsoft Jim Gray Award. In 2008 he became Doctor Honoris Causa of the Eotvos University, Budapest. In 2015 he received the Sidney Fernbach Award of the IEEE for his work on Data Intensive Computing. In 2020 he was awarded the Victor Ambartsumyan International Prize for his work in Physical Cosmology. In 2021 he was a member of the team receiving the ASM SIGMOD Systems prize for their work on the SDSS Archive. In 2021 he was one of the winners of the International Falling Walls Prize in Life Sciences for his work on cancer.