Green mountains surrounded by clouds

Marguerite T. Williams Award

Information on the Award

The Marguerite T. Williams Award is presented annually and recognizes significant contributions to research and community-building by a mid-career scientist in the field of earth and planetary surface processes. Marguerite T. Williams was a black woman who, by receiving her PhD in Geology in 1942, pioneered to broaden participation in STEM. Dr. Williams was already mid-career when she returned to school to earn higher degrees in geology, finishing her PhD in 1942 at the age of 47. Dr. Williams devoted her career to teaching, and she faced and overcame immeasurable barriers in her education and career, underscoring the enormity of her accomplishments.

Contributions in research can be illustrated through at least one contribution that significantly advanced the field of EPSP-related studies and/or collective contributions that have influenced the field, including but not limited to: development of new tools or techniques; discovery of new links between surface processes and their drivers; and application of surface processes research to sustainability. Contributions in community-building can be illustrated through, for example: sustained mentorship of students and/or early career scientists; broad reach in science communication and outreach; evidence of efforts to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion and/or efforts to improve accessibility and community climate; excellence in service roles such as peer review or panel participation, editorships or assistant editorships, or committee and leadership roles.

Brown grasslands and hills with mountains in background

Award Benefits

AGU is proud to recognize our section honorees. Recipients of the Marguerite T. Williams Award will receive the following benefits with the honor:
  • 1
    Award Certificate
  • 2
    Recognition in Eos
  • 3
    Recognition at Fall Meeting

Eligibility

To better understand eligibility for nominators, supporters and committee members, review AGU’s Honors Conflict of Interest Policy.

  • Nominators are not required to hold an active AGU membership.
  • The following individuals are not eligible to be nominators for the award during their terms of service:
    • AGU President;
    • AGU President-elect;
    • Council Leadership Team members;
    • Honors and Recognition Committee members;
    • Williams Award Committee members; and
    • All full-time AGU staff

  • The nominee is not required to be an active AGU member.
  • The nominee must be within 20 years of receiving their Ph.D. or the highest equivalent terminal degree.
  • The following individuals are not eligible to be candidates for the award during their terms of service:
    • AGU President;
    • AGU President-elect;
    • Council Leadership Team members;
    • Honors and Recognition Committee members;
    • Williams Award Committee members; and
    • All full-time AGU staff

The following relationships need to be identified and communicated to the Award Committee but will not disqualify individuals from participating in the nomination or committee review process. These apply to committee members, nominators, and supporters:

  • Current dean, departmental chair, supervisor, supervisee, laboratory director, an individual with whom one has a current business or financial relationship (e.g., business partner, employer, employee);
  • Research collaborator or co-author within the last three years; and/or
  • An individual working at the same institution or having accepted a position at the same institution.

Individuals with the following relationships are disqualified from participating in the award nomination process as a nominator or supporter:

  • Family member, spouse, or partner.
  • A previous graduate (Master’s or Ph.D.) 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 relationship with the nominee beginning on 1 January after the year the relationship was terminated.
  • 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.

  • Individuals who write letters of support for the nominee are not required to be active AGU members.
  • The following individuals are not eligible to be supporters for the award during their terms of service:
    • AGU President;
    • AGU President-elect;
    • Council Leadership Team members;
    • Honors and Recognition Committee members;
    • Williams Award Committee members; and
    • All full-time AGU staff

Nomination Package

  • A letter that details the nominee’s significant contributions to community-building and research in Earth and planetary surface processes, including a one-sentence citation. The required nomination letter should be no more than two (2) pages and should include: nominator’s signature, name, title, institution, and contact information. Official institutional letterhead is preferred.
  • A Curriculum Vitae for the nominee– no more than two (2) pages
  • A document detailing the Candidate’s Community Engagement Activities– no more than two (2) pages (Please Note: add this as an addition to your nomination letter)
  • A selected bibliography stating the total number of publications, the types of publications, and the number of publications published by AGU– no more than two (2) pages
  • One (1) to three (3) additional letters of support– no more than two (2) pages each

Evidence for significant or sustained contributions to EPSP community building may include one or more of the following:

  • Contributions towards broadening the EPSP community through the sustained mentorship of students and/or early career scientists
  • Broad reach in scientific communication, which may include but is not limited to K-12 and broader community outreach, development and/or sharing of educational tools, the organization of conferences, panels, and workshops, and contributions to policy statements, blogs, or other non-technical science writing.
  • Evidence of efforts to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion within the EPSP community or at a scientist’s home institution and/or efforts to improve accessibility and community climate.
  • Exceeding standard service in peer review or panel participation, editorships or assistant editorships, or committee and leadership roles.
  • Commitment to FAIR data principles, development and/or sharing of open-source software and code

Evidence of significant contributions to research may include:

  • At least one contribution that significantly advanced the field of EPSP-related studies
  • Collective contributions that have influenced the field, for example through: the development of new tools or techniques for understanding surface processes and the evolution of planetary surfaces; discovery of new links between surface processes and their drivers; interdisciplinary research that provides new insight into surface processes and landscape evolution; and/or application of surface processes research to sustainability, management, human and/or ecosystem health, and other applications

Submission Process

Submissions are reviewed by the Williams Award Committee. The 2023 nomination cycle runs from 18 January to 12 April at 23:59 ET.

Submit
Cliffs and deep fissure in Iceland

Recipients

Enrica Viparelli

2023

Citation

Martha Cary “Missy” Eppes transformed our understanding of processes operating beneath our feet and built bridges between communities. Her groundbreaking, interdisciplinary research links rock fracture mechanics and surface processes. Her early career was rooted in soil geomorphology. In the past decade or so, the wide arc of her research has changed how we think about rock cracking. Back in the day, I, and most geomorphology undergraduates, was taught that great temperature ranges and/or water expansion in preexisting cracks were required to fracture rocks, leading to the breakdown of rock, and by extension, the mechanisms underlying mineral-soil production. Missy and her collaborators discovered that physical weathering in virtually all rock types progresses by moisture (climate)-dependent subcritical fracturing under almost all of Earth’s surface and near-surface environmental conditions. I doubt it was her goal to create new, better textbook explanations when setting out on this path. Rather, my sense is that her fearless intellectual curiosity guides the questions she asks and her research agenda. In creating a new community of scientists and engineers who care about cracking, she has proven herself to be a generous contributor, planner, and research matchmaker. When finding a chasm, she creates community. Although she has been recognized for her research contributions, including recently receiving the Geological Society of America’s Kirk Bryan Award, this Williams Award also acknowledges the (mostly invisible) service done to help the scientific enterprise run smoothly and efficiently and expand opportunities for others. Missy spends countless hours sharing what she has learned over years by slow trial and error to kick-start others’ research and saves other people’s time and resources. Her substantial service, teaching, and mentoring contributions include a myriad of efforts for the scientific community, society, students, and women and minoritized individuals in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields—too many to list here. I am so pleased Missy was named the 2022 Marguerite T. Williams awardee. She embodies the AGU of the future—an organization of scientist-weavers, tying communities and knitting ideas and creating something beautiful in the process. —Jane Willenbring, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.

Response

Jane Willenbring’s intuition regarding my matchmaking inclinations is accurate, because I come by it honestly. Frank and Frankie Eppes were enormous people pleasers, in the highest and best use of that term—my father an ever vigilant liaison between people and what brought them joy, and my mother a firm believer in constantly attending to life’s beauty so that it could be leveraged to make others feel at ease. These are values I cherish and to which I aspire. So just as my obsession with rock fracture has indeed been driven by passionate curiosity, it has been equally driven by delight in presenting knowledge gaps to people whose company I quite enjoy and whose own expertise serves to fill those voids. I chuckle that growing fissures are the tie that binds so many friends together: rock physicists, engineers, climatologists, geographers, stone preservationists, artists, microbiologists, computer scientists, planetary geologists, and, of course, my entire Earth surface processes family. The science also benefits from this diversity. A structural geologist sent me to fracture mechanics to better understand competing (synergistic!) forces driving rock fracture. There, I stumbled upon rock physicists who were, apologetically in their own deep-crust literature, conducting experiments at 1 atmosphere and 20°C. When my fellow geomorphologists suggested I prove the efficacy of climate-dependent subcritical stresses by cracking rocks in the lab, I enthusiastically responded that those experiments were already complete! So, in effect, my “big idea” had been at the party the whole time. I just translated an invitation for her to join the dance floor and made a happy announcement to the crowd! Matchmaking also broadens perceptions of research unexpectedly. An artist pointed out: “Missy, the world thinks of climate change as melting glaciers and rising seas. You are saying it will affect us in ways we have never thought of, down to the smallest cracks in our bedrock. That is profound.” A dancer proposed that we fluidly exchange the words “person” and “rock”; there is no rock on Earth that does not have cracks—ever evolving defects caused by the greatest, and least, of forces. These fractures alter the very nature of the rock itself, influencing her tendency to break or heal, her ability to withstand great stresses, and her capacity to retain precious resources. Try to name a single event in Earth’s history not connected in some way to cracks. Please email me if you think of one. —Martha Cary (Missy) Eppes, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Nicole M Gasparini

2021
Jane Willenbring Headshot

Jane K. Willenbring

2020

Honors Contacts

Graphic silhouette of a person

Rosa Maymi

Director, Engagement and Membership

202-777-7322 | [email protected]

Graphic silhouette of a person

Leah Bland

Manager, Honors

202-777-7389 | [email protected]

Graphic silhouette of a person

Hannah Hoffman

Program Manager, Fellows

[email protected]