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Near-Surface Geophysics Early Career Achievement Award

Information on the award

The Near-Surface Geophysics Early Career Achievement Award is given annually and recognizes significant contributions to the field of near-surface geophysics by an early career researcher.

The award is presented at the Near-Surface Geophysics Business Meeting/Luncheon at the AGU Fall Meeting.

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Award Benefits

AGU is proud to recognize our section honorees. Recipients of the Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award will receive the following benefits with the honor:
  • 1
    Award Certificate
  • 2
    Recognition in Eos
  • 3
    Recognition at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year
  • 4
    Complimentary Fall Meeting Registration during the award presentation year
  • 5
    Complimentary ticket to the Near-Surface Geophysics section luncheon or reception


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

  • The nominee is not required to be an active AGU member.
    • The nominee needs to show engagement with the Near-Surface Geophysics section.
  • The nominee must be within 10 years of receiving their Ph.D. or the highest equivalent terminal degree prior to 1 January of the award presentation year.
  • AGU Fellows are not eligible for nomination.
  • The nominee must be in compliance with our Conflict of Interest Policy.
  • The selected nominees will need to sign a self-disclosure form.

  • Nominators are 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;
    • Near-Surface Geophysics Early Career Award Committee members; and
    • All full-time AGU staff

  • 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;
    • Near-Surface Geophysics Early Career 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.
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Nomination Package

Your nomination package must contain the following files, which should be no more than two pages in length per document. Learn how to successfully submit a nomination package or read our guide on how to submit a successful nomination.

  • A nomination letter that states how the nominee meets the selection criteria. Required components of the nomination letter are: nominator’s signature, name, title, institution, and contact information. Nomination on official institution letterhead is preferred.

  • A curriculum vitae for the nominee. 

  • Optional: A selected bibliography stating the total number, the types of publications and the number published by AGU. 

  • Three letters of support. Supporter’s signature, name, title, institution, and contact information are required. Letterhead is preferred. We encourage letters from individuals not currently or recently associated with the candidate’s institution of graduate education or employment.

Submission Process

Nomination submissions are reviewed by the Near-Surface Geophysics Early Career Award Committee. The nomination cycle is open through 15 April.
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Adam R Mangel



Sebastian Uhlemann is an outstanding early-career scientist who has established himself as an authority on geophysical monitoring of natural environmental processes. The focus of Sebastian’s Ph.D. at ETH Zurich and the British Geological Survey was geoelectrical monitoring of moisture-driven processes in natural and engineered slopes. He explored, for the first time, true 4D imaging of moisture dynamics in unstable hillslopes. His Ph.D. led to the publication of numerous papers, the collection of which offers new insight into using near-surface geophysical methods to quantify hydrological and geomechanical states within a hillslope, and thus, ultimately, offering some means of forewarning slope failure. Not satisfied with this alone as a challenge, during his Ph.D., Sebastian also took the lead on several other areas of near-surface geophysics research, including the characterization of riparian wetlands using time-lapse methods and aquifer vulnerability mapping in Cambodia, the latter providing crucial information to allow the interpretation of geochemical data related to the widespread arsenic contamination problem in the region. His move to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher allowed him to expand his portfolio in using geophysics, examining, for example, permafrost degradation, groundwater recharge, and plant-soil-water interaction. His 2021 transitional permafrost paper reveals how near-surface geophysics can be used to illuminate, not just support. Some of his very recent work explored the integration of near-surface geophysics and other data sources to reveal, at the watershed scale, how topographic features and subsurface properties are interrelated. I am sure that this work will have a long-lasting and significant impact on critical zone science. Despite completing his Ph.D. only 4 years ago, Sebastian’s activities also include significant community service, including associate editor and guest editor roles, along with membership on AGU’s Near-Surface Geophysics Executive and Hydrogeophysics Technical committees. Two years ago he was appointed Visiting Professor at Amrita University in India. Coupled to this, he has provided support to the United Kingdom’s Groundwater Relief charity and is working on humanitarian aspects of near-surface geophysics. I continue to be astounded by the breadth and depth of his activities. Sebastian is a truly remarkable young scientist whose scientific skills and impact, along with service to the scientific and broader community, are inspirational to all. The AGU Near-Surface Geophysics Early Career Achievement Award is a fitting recognition of his vast array of achievements and scientific impact. —Andrew Binley, Lancaster University, Lancaster, U.K.


For most of my scientific career, my main interest has been to develop and use geophysical monitoring for better understanding of geological hazards such as landslides, and to investigate processes related to climate change and clean and sustainable energy resources, including permafrost degradation, nuclear waste storage, and groundwater recharge and contamination. I feel very honored to receive the Near-Surface Geophysics Early Career Achievement Award for this work, and I very much appreciate the support of Andy Binley, who nominated me for this award and is always there to provide support and advice. I’m very grateful to Jon Chambers, whose guidance while working at the British Geological Survey really formed my scientific interest and shaped me as a researcher. I’m also very grateful to the rest of the Geophysical Imaging team at the British Geological Survey, who provided me with a home during the early stages of my research career and taught me what working on a team means. It is especially this teamwork that I appreciate most and is what has helped me a lot to grow and expand both personally and professionally. While I worked at the British Geological Survey, I also had the opportunity to study and obtain a Ph.D. from ETH Zurich. I’m in debt to Hansruedi Maurer, who offered me this opportunity and with whom I had many great conversations that formed my research, and who also grew my love for mountain biking. Moving to Berkeley Lab has opened many opportunities in the past few years. The geophysicists at Berkeley Lab are part of many very interdisciplinary projects, and so I found myself highlighting the importance of subsurface characteristics and processes to ecologists, biogeochemists, engineers, and data scientists. Working with them, we analyzed the impacts of climate change on permafrost landscapes and mountainous headwaters and developed new tools to ensure sustainable groundwater supplies. I'm very thankful to Baptiste Dafflon, who has been my supervisor since joining Berkeley Lab as a postdoc and then helped me to transition to a research scientist. He always had my back and supported the ideas that may have been a little out of our original scope. He always made sure to include everyone on the team in shaping the various research projects we worked on and encouraged us to bring forward our ideas. I feel very honored to be receiving this award and to be part of this community. I do hope the work we are doing as near-surface geophysicists will continue to advance our understanding of the processes that are happening just below our feet, though often unseen, yet critically important to keeping us and the Earth we live on safe and healthy. —Sebastian Uhlemann, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif.

Ryan Smith


Anja Klotzsche


Honors Contacts

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Rosa Maymi

Director, Engagement and Membership

202-777-7322 | [email protected]

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Leah Bland

Manager, Honors

202-777-7389 | [email protected]

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Hannah Hoffman

Program Manager, Fellows

[email protected]