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Fellows Nominations: Frequently Asked Questions

Nomination Process

Why was the AGU Fellows program created?
  • Originally suggested by the AGU Executive Committee of 1960 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. The first class of AGU Fellows was announced in December 1962.

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

  • The 2022 nomination cycle is currently open and will close on 15 April at 11:59 PM ET   

When are newly elected Fellows announced?

  • Newly elected Fellows will be announced in September. Nominators and newly elected Fellows will be notified prior to the public announcement.

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

  • breakthrough or discovery;
  • innovation in disciplinary science, cross-disciplinary science, instrument, data set, or methods development;
  • sustained scientific impact;
  • In addition to meeting one or more of the primary criteria for election, nominees are expected to have shown exemplary leadership in following and promulgating AGU values. This leadership may include but is not limited to fostering equity, integrity, diversity, and open science; mentoring; public engagement and communication.
  • In addition to the criteria listed above, please ensure all eligibility aspects are met prior to nominating a candidate. The nominee must be a middle or senior career scientist, an active AGU member for the past three years, and in compliance with our Honors conflict of interest policy. Selected nominees will need to sign a self-disclosure form. 

Can I nominate myself?

  • Self-nominations are not permitted.

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 serve as an AGU volunteer, can I submit a nomination? 

  • AGU President, AGU President-elect, H&R Committee, CLT, full-time AGU staff, cannot nominate or write support letters for candidates
  • Nominators or supporters for a specific honor, lecture, program, or fellowship should not be on the selection committee for that honor
  • Section Presidents and President-elects cannot nominate or support Fellows candidates
  • Family members and spouses/partners are prohibited from submitting nominations 
  • Mentor-mentee relationships established during graduate studies or postdoc fellowships
    • A previous graduate (Masters or PhD) and/or postdoctoral advisor, or postdoctoral fellow may not write a nomination letter but may write a supporting letter after five years of terminating their formal relationship with the nominee beginning on 1 January after the year the formal relationship was terminated. The only exception to this policy is that this restriction does not apply to early-career awards from sections and the Science for Solutions Award

    • In addition, a former doctoral or graduate student, or a former postdoctoral fellow may not write a nomination letter for a former advisor but may write a supporting letter after five years of terminating their relationship with the nominee beginning on 1 January after the year the relationship was terminated.

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

  • Please note that the h-index is optional and plays a minor 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?

  • Please use an appropriate font size/type (e.g., Times New Roman, size 12). If the selected font is difficult to read, you will be asked to revise the document. For other formatting questions please review the Nomination Format Requirements section.

What will happen if any of my documents exceed the 2-page limit?

  • AGU will remove any pages in excess of the two-page limit prior to sharing with the review committee(s). Only complete packages will be considered eligible to move forward to the Section Fellows Committee(s) for 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?

  • Nominations must be submitted through AGU's online nomination and review platform, Open Water. If other accommodations are needed, contact [email protected]   

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

  • AGU will contact nominators regarding incomplete packages. Only complete packages submitted by the deadline will move forward to the Section Fellows Committee(s) for review.

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

  • Please submit all  required documents as watermark-free, unencrypted PDF's. If you experience difficulty uploading a document, 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, and after the submission deadline has passed, it cannot be revised. If a submitted nomination requires revisions prior to the submission 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, you can nominate them again during a subsequent nomination cycle.
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 Section Fellows Committees and the Union Fellows Committee are asked to provide feedback on unsuccessful nominations. Nominations that were not advanced to the Union Fellows Committee for review should receive feedback from the Section Fellows Committee(s) that reviewed the package. Nominations that advanced to the Union Fellows Committee, but ultimately were not elected, should receive feedback from the Union Fellows Committee.
What determines which committee(s) will review the nomination package?
  • Nominations can be reviewed by up to four Section Fellows Committees. Nominations are typically submitted to the nominees primary Section affiliation. Nominators can select an additional three Sections 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. 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.
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 member is assigned to present or support the case of an allotted number of proposed Fellows. After presentations have concluded, the 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.
When are newly elected Fellows honored?
  • Newly elected Fellows will be honored during the upcoming AGU Fall Meeting.
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.
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?

Nomination Letter

What information should the nomination letter contain and what is the page limit?
  • The nomination letter should be written on letterhead and include the nominator’s name, title, institution, and contact information.
  • The nomination letter should not exceed 2 pages in length. AGU will remove any pages in excess of the limit (2 pages) prior to sharing with the review committee(s).
  • The nomination should include a brief history of the candidate’s work and the publications that have resulted and which of the primary criteria the candidate is being recognized for.
Can you share an example of a short citation?
  • A 150-character citation (including punctuation and spacing) is required. You will submit the citation in the online nomination platform. You can expand upon the citation (if you wish) in the nomination letter. The citation should summarize 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.
Does my nomination letter also count as one of the three required letters of support for my nominee?
  • No, 3 letters of support must be submitted in addition to the nomination letter. A nominator cannot also submit a letter of support in the same nomination package—he or she must secure three additional individuals to 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 am still unsure of what to include in the nomination and/or supporting letter(s). What should I consider when writing these letters?
  • 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. The nomination letter should clearly delineate which of the primary criteria the candidate is being recognized for. 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 must list all of the following candidate information: name, mailing and email address, employment history, degrees, relevant research experience, relevant honors, memberships, service to the community through committee work, advisory boards, etc.
  • The CV should not exceed 2 pages in length. AGU will remove any pages in excess of the limit (2 pages) prior to sharing with the review committee(s). 
  • Please ensure the accuracy of information listed in the CV. 
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My nominee has written countless publications. Can the selected bibliography exceed the maximum 2-page limit?
  • No, the selected bibliography should be no more than 2 pages in length and include a list of publications relevant to the work for which the nominee is being recognized. AGU will remove pages in excess of the limit (2 pages) prior to sharing with the review committee(s).

What should I include in the bibliography? 

  • Nominators should submit a bibliography that encompasses the candidate’s overall research and scientific contributions.
  • Rather than selecting the candidates most recent publications, nominators are encouraged to choose those that best support the argument for Fellowship.
    • For instance, if the candidate is being recognized for innovations in their field and has published papers on the innovation(s), those papers should be highlighted in the bibliography regardless of how long ago they were published. 
    • Likewise, if a candidate is being recognized for their sustained scientific impact, it would make sense to include relevant papers spanning the duration of the nominee's career. 



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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 advanced to the Section Review Committee(s). To determine if a potential supporter is eligible to participate in the Fellows nomination process, please review the AGU Honors Conflict of Interest policy

Do I have to be an active AGU member to write a letter of support? 

  • No. Nominees, nominators, and co-nominators must be active AGU members but letter of support writers do not need to be. 
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 3 letters of support in a Fellows nomination package. Co-nominators are encouraged in situations where there are numerous supporters. If more than 3 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.

I am the nominator. Can I also write one of the required letters of support/does my nomination letter count as a letter of support? 

  • No. In addition to the nomination letter, 3 additional letters of support are required. You must find 3 additional people to support the nomination. 

Who should I ask to write a letter of support? 

  • We encourage nominators to find supporters from outside the candidates' immediate circle of colleagues and collaborators. While there are no rules stating that collaborators and close colleagues (i.e., those within the same department or those with whom the candidate regularly collaborates) cannot write letters of support, it always good to demonstrate that the candidates work has had significant impact beyond their immediate circle. 

What should a letter of support writer include in their letter? 

  • Ideally, supporters would work closely with the nominator to ensure that their letters are well-aligned with the nomination letter/nomination package. It is beneficial for letter of support writers to be familiar with the tone and content conveyed in the nomination letter. Effective letters of support often expand upon things highlighted in the nomination letter. It is also important for letter of support writers to know which of the criteria the candidate is being recognized for.