Valley with steep rocky cliffs

Yuhan Rao: "Why I joined the Austin Challenge"

Yuhan Rao: Why I give

My first AGU Fall Meeting in 2016 was very typical for an AGU newbie: exciting and overwhelming! When I was notified that my abstract has been accepted for an oral presentation, I was very excited that my research was appreciated by others. Planning for the travel required me to come up with some creative solutions by piecing together funding from three different sources. When I started to explore the full meeting program online, I quickly realized that getting my abstract accepted is the easiest part of this journey. On one hand, hundreds of sessions with exciting research that interested me. How could I possibly fit them all into my schedule?! On the other hand, there are also very diverse programs beyond just research, such as, student conference, #SciComm workshop, career center events, various town halls, and sectional networking activities. After weeks of careful assessment, I finally decided on a schedule that I thought could maximize my time at my first Fall Meeting.

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At the end of the meeting, I was quite pleased with the work I had put into my meeting plan. Not only did I learn about others’ research, I also met many new and old friends who has later helped me along my career path. That was the moment when I fully realized that AGU is more than just exciting science.

Fast forward to today, I consider myself a relatively experienced AGU veteran and have received my doctoral degree. I am also involved in different parts of the AGU community, including sectional event planning and helping to plan the AGU student and early career scientist conference. Some of my friends have asked me why I would volunteer to help with these efforts. My answer: I want to give back for what AGU has done to help me with my own career. As just one example, I indirectly found my current job as a researcher through 2018 Fall Meeting after connecting with some of the colleagues at my current institution. At the time, I was trying to juggle between finding a job and finishing my dissertation as well as some personal health issues. I only learned about the job posting after the colleagues that I met during AGU forwarded it to me. Beyond my current role, AGU also provides me with a platform where I can meet new people who share the same interests with me and connect with old colleagues. These are just some of the reasons that I decided to commit to be involved in AGU as a volunteer.

I have been fortunate enough that I could always attend AGU meetings. But there are many others who are not as lucky as me because of financial burdens. I understand how AGU can change a student’s career path. That’s why I decided to help AGU support more students to attend AGU meetings through the Austin Student Travel Grant Challenge.

Yuhan (Douglas) Rao, Ph.D.

Yuhan Rao

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