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Fellows Nominations: Frequently Asked Questions

Nomination process

What if a newly elected Fellow cannot attend the AGU Fall Meeting when the honor is recognized?

If a newly elected Fellow is not attendance, they will still receive recognition at the conference, and arrangements will be made with the fellow to receive their memorabilia including lapel pin and certificate.

Why was the AGU Fellows program created?

The Fellows program was established in 1962 to recognize AGU members who have made exceptional contributions to Earth and space sciences as valued by their peers and vetted by a committee of Fellows. The Fellows program serves to meet the need of identifying authorities who could advise, upon request, the various government agencies and other organizations outside the Earth and space sciences. In addition, the program aims to motivate members to achieve excellence in research and thereby advance the Earth and space sciences.

Originally suggested by the AGU Executive Committee of 1960, the first class of elected AGU Fellows was announced in December 1962.

When will AGU begin to accept Fellows nominations? What is the submission deadline?

The 2021 nomination cycle is currently open and will close on 15 April. 

When are newly elected Fellows and their nominators notified?

Newly elected Fellows and their nominators will be notified in September.

When are newly elected Fellows announced?
Newly elected Fellows will be announced in Eos in October.
When are newly elected Fellows honored?

Newly elected Fellows will be honored during the upcoming AGU Fall Meeting.

What is the criterion used to evaluate prospective AGU Fellows nominees?

The nomination must prove at least one of these three primary criteria for scientific eminence is met:

  1. Breakthrough or discovery
  2. Innovation in disciplinary science, cross-disciplinary science, instrument development, or methods development
  3. Sustained scientific impact.

Can I nominate myself?
No, you cannot nominate yourself. AGU only accepts nominations and letters of support from colleagues of individuals who show that they have made outstanding contributions to the Earth and space sciences.

How many individuals can submit a nomination on behalf of a nominee? Are co-nominators permitted? If so, how many co-nominators can endorse a nominee? Is active AGU membership required for a co-nominator?

AGU will only accept one nomination package per nominee. Multiple nominations for the same nominee are not permitted. The first nomination package submitted will be considered. AGU staff will notify any other nominators if their nominee has already been submitted for consideration.

However, a nomination package can have at most two collaborating nominators. A co-nominator refers to an individual who collaborates with a nominator to craft a nomination letter and endorses the letter with her or his signature and contact information. AGU will not accept more than two signatures on a nomination letter. Co-nominators must have active AGU membership at the time that the nomination package is submitted.

Are co-supporters permitted?

No. If more than one supporter’s signature appears on a letter of support, you will be asked to revise the document by the deadline provided.

I am an AGU elected officer or appointed committee member. Can I submit a Fellows nomination letter or supporting letter during my term?

Unless there are additional relationship conflicts that will cause disqualification (see the AGU Conflict of Interest policy), the following elected officers and appointed committee members may submit a Fellows nomination letter or supporting letter during their term of office:

  • Board of Directors;
  • Members of Medal, Award, Prize, And Lecture Committees; and
  • Section secretaries

Members of the Union Fellows Committee and Section Fellows Committees may not submit nominations.

How do I determine the nominee’s h-index?

Please note that the h-index is optional and plays only a secondary role in evaluation. There are various resources available that will calculate an individual’s h-index, including the Web of Knowledge, SCOPUS, and Google Scholar. To obtain accurate h-indices for nominees with common names requires following a specific procedure:

1) Search for AU=LAST I*
2) Then search by institutions
3) Then search by discipline

After this search, review the list and eliminate any that do not belong to the nominee in order to determine the h-index. If a nomination package includes the nominee’s h-index it should be reflected at the top of the selected bibliography along with the source it was calculated from.

What font size is acceptable for nomination materials?

For this and other formatting questions please review the Nomination Format Requirements.

What will happen if any of my documents exceed the two-page limit?

The two-page limit for each document is adhered to strictly. If you exceed two pages for any item, the nomination package will be sent directly to the nominator requesting that the revised document(s) be electronically submitted via the AGU Fellows online submission site by our deadline. Only complete packages will be considered eligible to move forward for Section Fellows Committee review.

Should a nomination letter or supporting letter contain the author’s signature?

Yes, both nomination letters and supporting letters must contain the author’s signature, full name, title, email or telephone number, and institutional affiliation. In addition, nominators and supporters are encouraged to submit letters using their institution’s letterhead. Electronic or official signatures and letterhead are acceptable.

Should supporters send their letters directly to AGU or to the nominator?

All documents should be submitted in one nomination package, either electronically or by mail, by the nominator. Supporters should check with the nominator on how they intent to submit the nomination package. Nominations submitted electronically enable supporters to submit letters directly to the nominator. If the nomination is submitted by mail, supporters should allow adequate time to forward their letter directly to the nominator, who is responsible for submitting the complete nomination package.

Will AGU contact me if my nomination package is incomplete or requires revising?

AGU will contact any nominator regarding incomplete or incorrect packages. Only complete packages submitted by the deadline will move forward to the Section Fellows Committees for review.

I plan to submit the nomination package using AGU’s online submission system. Which file formats can I use for uploading?

The AGU online submission system accepts .wpd and .pdf formatted files. If you experience difficulty uploading a Fellows nomination, please contact us.

I have successfully submitted the nomination package but would like to revise one of the documents. What should I do?

Once a nomination package is submitted, it cannot be revised. If a submitted nomination requires revising prior to the deadline, please contact us.

I nominated a candidate who, unfortunately, was not elected. Can a nomination be submitted for review again?

Yes. If your candidate is not elected a Fellow, you can nominate him or her again. However, we recommend that you update your nomination documents per the feedback letter(s).

I want to strengthen and resubmit my Fellows nomination package from the previous year. How do I obtain feedback regarding an unsuccessful Fellows nomination package?

All unsuccessful nominations will receive a feedback letter when they are notified of the status of their nomination. Nominations that were not advanced to the Union Fellows Committee for review will receive feedback from all the Section Fellows Committees that reviewed the package. Nominations that are advanced to the Union Fellows Committee but ultimately were not elected a Fellow, will receive feedback the Union Fellows Committee, and if multiple Section Fellows Committees reviewed the package, Section Fellows Committees who did not recommend the nomination for advancement to the Union Fellows Committee, may also include feedback however, this is at the discretion of the given Section Committee.

What determines which committee(s) will review the nomination package?

Nominations can be reviewed by up to four Section Fellows Committees. The nominee’s primary section affiliation will automatically review the nomination package. Nominators can select an additional three sections committees which the nominee is either secondarily affiliated with or with whom the nominee’s work is considered interdisciplinary.

What determines the number of nominees that are moved forward by each Section Fellows Committee for review by the Union Fellows Committee?

Every AGU section has a Section Fellows Committee, which the section president appoints a chair. Smaller sections may choose to participate in the Joint Section Fellows Committee, in which case the participating section president will appoint a Section Fellows Committee Representative to serve on the committee. Once all Section Fellows Committees review their assigned nominations, they rank a small portion of the nominations, who they believe, are their best candidates, to the be forwarded for review by the Union Fellows Committee. The allocated number of nominations the Section Fellows Committees can submit to the Union Fellows Committee is based on 0.2 percent of the section’s primary affiliated members. The Joint Sections Fellows Committee allocation is similarly calculated, combining 0.2 percent of the participating sections primary members.

How is a final decision reached by the Union Fellows Selection Committee?

The Union Fellows Selection Committee dedicates months of its time reviewing every nomination submitted by Section Fellows Committees. On the basis of their diverse scientific backgrounds and knowledge, each committee members is assigned to present or support the case of an allotted number of proposed Fellows at the in-person Union Fellows Committee meeting, held in July. At this meeting, there are thorough discussions, and all reviewed nominations are voted on through anonymous ballots. No one is elected a Fellow without receiving a majority of the committee’s votes.

How many Fellows are elected annually?

AGU policy states that the number of Fellows elected each year shall not exceed 0.1 percent of the total membership. Every year, no more than one Fellow is elected for every 1000 AGU members. The number of Fellows elected is based on the total membership at the end of the previous year.

In addition, approximately three to five additional AGU members are conferred as Fellows annually.

Any AGU medalist or Ambassador awardee who was not previously elected a Fellow is automatically accorded the honor as well. This usually occurs with Macelwane medalists, who are typically early career scientists; however, it is not limited to them.

Is there a historical list of elected AGU Fellows available? Where can I find the new class of Fellows listed?

We currently have an alphabetical list of all Fellows.

I was elected an AGU Fellow but my name does not appear on the historical list. Whom should I contact?

We’re sorry to hear that, please contact us.

Nomination letter

What information should the nomination letter contain and what is the page limit?

Nomination letters should be concise, clear, and no more than two pages in length, preferably on letterhead. The nomination should include a brief history of the candidate’s work and the publications that have resulted and should also indicate which Section committee should review the package. It must include a short citation as the final sentence, which encapsulates the essence of the individual’s contributions.

What is a short citation? Can you share an example of a short citation?

A short citation is the final sentence in the nomination letter, which summarizes the essence of the individual’s contributions. Use the following format when writing a citation:

“Dr. Smith should be elected a Fellow for [state the essence of the scientific contributions in 150 characters or less].” An example of a citation provided for 2012 Fellow Janne Blichert-Toft is as follows:

For being the world’s leading geochemist in the application of hafnium isotopes to the evolution of the Earth and early solar system.

Short citations should be no more than 150 characters, including punctuation and spacing. The character count is strongly adhered. Nominators will be asked to revise any short citation that exceeds the allotted character count. If this request is not complied, AGU staff will remove any text beyond the 150-character count (no copyediting will be provided).

Does my nomination letter also count as one of the three required letters of support for my nominee?

No, a nomination letter is submitted along with the required three supporting letters. A nominator cannot also submit a letter of support in the same nomination package—he or she must secure three individuals who support the nomination. Thus, a total of four, but no more than five, different individuals are involved in a Fellows nomination (e.g, two co-nominators plus three supporters or one nominator and three supporters). To determine if a potential supporter is eligible to participate in the Fellows nomination process, please review the AGU Honors Conflict of Interest policy.

I still am unsure of what to include in a nomination letter or supporting letter. What should I consider when writing a nomination letter?

The nomination and supporting letters must clearly explain how the nominee has demonstrated the primary criteria for Union Fellows, that is, significant impact of the candidate’s breakthrough or discovery, innovation in disciplinary science, and sustained scientific impact, so that it is understood by both peers and scientists in other fields of research. Consider answering the following questions as you make your case for Fellowship in the nominating letter and supporting letters:

  • What major breakthroughs, discoveries, or sustained scientific impact are results of the candidate’s research and/or contributions? How far-reaching is it? Explain in terms that will be understandable to those in other fields of study.
  • Where does the candidate’s work rank in the field?
  • Is the work specific to a field of study or is it interdisciplinary?
  • What insight has been gained as a result of the candidate’s work? Indicate the breadth of the impact on our science.
  • How has the candidate’s work contributed to the field overall and/or in the growth of the field?
  • What impact does the work have on current and future research?
  • What research was influenced by the candidate’s contributions?
  • In what other ways has the candidate contributed to the scientific community? What other recognition has the individual received?

Curriculum vitae

What information should the nominee’s curriculum vitae (CV) contain and what is the page limit?

The CV should not exceed two pages in length. All incomplete or incorrect CVs will be returned to the nominator for revising. The curriculum vitae should list the candidate’s:

  1. Name
  2. Mailing and e-mail address
  3. History of employment
  4. Degrees
  5. Research experience
  6. Honors
  7. Memberships
  8. Service to the community through committee work, advisory boards, etc.
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Selected bibliography

My nominee has written for countless publications. Can the selected bibliography exceed the maximum two-page limit?

No. AGU requests that nominators submit a “selected bibliography” that encompasses the candidate’s overall research and scientific contributions. Rather than selecting the most recent publications, nominators are encouraged to choose those that best support the argument for Fellowship.

Each selected bibliography should begin by briefly stating the candidate’s total number and types of publications and specifying the number published in AGU publications. For example:

Jane Doe is the author of 92 publications, 86 in peer-reviewed scientific journals, 14 of which have been published in AGU journals and books. The following selected list best supports Jane’s nomination for AGU Fellow.

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Letters of support

I have received notification from AGU staff that a supporter is ineligible. What should I do?

If one of the three supporters are ineligible to participate in the Fellows nomination process, then the nominator must find another supporter to write a letter of support. If no alternate supporter is located, then the nomination is considered incomplete and will not be further considered for election. To determine if a potential supporter is eligible to participate in the Fellows nomination process, please review the AGU Honors Conflict of Interest policy.

I have submitted a nomination package but another supporter would like to write a letter on behalf of the nominee. How should we proceed?

Nomination packages must include all required documents and must be received by AGU by the deadline and once submitted revisions cannot be made.

There are several reputable and esteemed scientists who have agreed to write supporting letters for my nominee. I simply cannot choose three supporters from this list of highly regarded individuals. Can there be an exception to the rule?

Nominators cannot exceed three letters of support in a Fellows nomination package. Co-nominators are encouraged in situations where there are numerous supporters. If more than three supporting letters are submitted in addition to the nomination letter, then an email will be sent to the nominator requesting they identify the names of their three supporters. If no response is received, then we will randomly select three of the supporters provided to move the nomination package forward. All incorrect letters of support will be returned to the nominator for revising.