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Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring

Information on the Award

The Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring is presented annually to a mid-career woman scientist in recognition of significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientsts. Successful candidates will demonstrate creative research skills, as well as excellence in science education and mentoring.

This award honors Elizabeth Sulzman, an isotope biogeochemist and soil scientist whose enthusiasm for teaching inspired many undergraduates at Oregon State University. The Sulzman Award is presented at the Biogeosciences section luncheon during the AGU Fall Meeting.

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Award Benefits

AGU is proud to recognize our section honorees. Recipients of the Sulzman Award will receive the following benefits with the honor:

  • 1
    Award certificate
  • 2
    $1,000 monetary prize
  • 3
    Recognition in Eos
  • 4
    Recognition at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year
  • 5
    Complimentary ticket to the Biogeosciences Section luncheon at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year

Eligibility

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

  • The nominee is required to be an active AGU member.
  • Eligible nominees are female scientists who have pursued careers related to biogeosciences either abroad or in the United States.
  • The nominee must be within 15 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;
    • Biogeosciences section leadership;
    • Sulzman Award Committee members; and
    • All full-time AGU staff

  • 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;
    • Biogeosciences section leadership;
    • Sulzman 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;
    • Biogeosciences section leadership;
    • Sulzman 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.

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Nomination Package

Your nomination package must contain all of 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. It should include details about the activities over the years that establish a record of outstanding mentoring and/or education in a field related to biogeosciences. Nominator’s signature, name, title, institution, and contact information are required. Letterhead is preferred.
  • A curriculum vitae for the nominee.
  • Three letters of support not including the nomination letter. 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.
  • A selected bibliography stating the total number, the types of publications and the number published by AGU (optional).

Submission Process

Submissions are reviewed by the Sulzman Award Committee. Nominations should be submitted online.
SUBMIT
student Laura Stamp is gazing out over Neoproterozoic sedimentary strata that record a rich assemblage of eukaryotic microfossils as well as geochemical evidence for what the world's oceans were like approximately 800 million years ago

Recipients

Nandita B Basu

2020

Rebecca Barnes received the 2019 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2019, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given to “one mid-career female scientist…for significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists.”

 

Citation

Rebecca Barnes exemplifies excellence and leadership in research, teaching, mentoring, and service. Becca’s research is transforming our understanding of biogeochemical processes at the interface between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, with a focus on responses to anthropogenic and climatic disturbance. Becca established an outstanding record of mentoring and teaching through unwavering support of students and leadership in national initiatives to promote the careers of women and historically minoritized groups in the geosciences. Becca masterfully achieved integration of research into her teaching. In her first 4.5 years at Colorado College, she mentored 13 senior theses and coauthored with 14 students while maintaining a productive and well-funded research program of her own. Becca engages her students in creative ways to learn and communicate scientific information. Last year, she launched a class project to write Wikipedia profiles of women scientists, a project featured on the wiki.edu blog, inspiring others across the country. As an instructor in the Spatio-Temporal Isotope Analytics Lab (SPATIAL) isotope biogeochemistry course, Becca has inspired multiple cohorts of students and faculty. As one of her letter writers states, “Becca is a powerhouse, both in terms of her research work and her advocacy and leadership within the academic community.”

Through her leadership in the Earth Science Women’s Network, Becca has made immeasurable contributions to building an international peer-mentoring community for women in the geosciences. She single-handedly manages multiple websites and online community resources. Becca has developed early-career professional development workshops, now a regular feature of AGU’s Fall Meeting. She co-organized a workshop with leaders from 500 Women Scientists, producing a guide with best strategies for developing inclusive scientific meetings, profiled in Nature. Currently she serves as co–principal investigator on two major multi-institutional National Science Foundation awards, where she engages in interdisciplinary research on strategies for building diverse, equitable, and inclusive climates from undergraduate to faculty levels.

—Erika Marín-Spiotta, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Response

It is an incredible honor to receive the Sulzman Award. I am thankful to Erika Marín-Spiotta for nominating me, my letter writers for their support, and all those who volunteer for the Biogeosciences section. I truly believe that science is a team sport, and I am so appreciative of the amazing team of scientists that I work with. This includes the undergraduate students at Colorado College who diligently wade streams and climb mountains for samples; they are the backbone of my research program. Their enthusiasm for learning is inspiring, and working with them in the field, the lab, and the classroom is the most rewarding part of my job and without a doubt makes me a better scientist and person. I am thankful to Gabe Bowen and the larger SPATIAL isotope family for teaching me so much about how to incorporate research into the classroom and the importance of truly loving what you do. It is always exciting to meet the early-career scientists, knowing I will leave wiser and curious about questions I did not even know to ask a week prior. I am grateful for the opportunities that the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) provides me to give back to the geoscience community. I am especially proud of the work we have done to develop evidence-based mentoring programs and trainings to improve workplace climate. It is truly inspiring to see so many scientists working together to make our community safer and more inclusive. I am humbled to work alongside the awesome women of ESWN and 500 Women Scientists, Erika Marín-Spiotta, Emily Fischer, and Jane Zelikova; you inspire everything from classroom lessons to political action. I am indebted to you and my network of mentors and mentees who provide strength and resilience and inspire me to pay it forward.

—Rebecca Barnes, Colorado College, Colorado Springs

Akarsh Asoka

2018

Emily Elliott will receive the 2018 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2018, to be held 10–14 December in Washington, D. C. The award is given to “one mid-career female scientist…for significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists.”

 

Citation

Emily M. Elliott, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh, will receive the 2018 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring. Emily has dedicated herself to student mentoring, interdisciplinary learning, promoting diversity, and serving as a leader in the scientific community. This dedication speaks directly to the goal of the Sulzman Award of recognizing “significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists.”

Emily leads a research program that examines the tight coupling between human activities and reactive nitrogen distributions in atmospheric, terrestrial, and hydrologic systems at multiple spatial scales using stable isotope biogeochemistry. As one letter writer states, “Emily Elliott has pulled together a serious and significant scientific program…. [Her] work is decidedly technical, focused, and innovative, as well as expansive on a geographical scale…. In addition to her research accomplishments, Prof. Elliott has found the time to create novel outreach programs, a strength that attests to her leadership on a local, national, and international scale. In summary, Dr. Emily Elliott is a great candidate for the Sulzman Award—smart, caring, great publications, and a sense of responsibility for the community.”

Other letter writers speak to the personal engagement Emily brings to her mentoring activities: “It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes her such an effective advisor and mentor, but her ability to instill confidence in her students at just the right moments, to help them identify the roadblocks of research and devise strategies to get around them, and to ensure that they understand and apply the core disciplinary knowledge necessary for their research are surely among the most important factors in her success and the success of her students.” It is inspiring to see such a deserving scientist recognized for the important work of mentoring the next generation.

—Tracey Holloway, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Response

I am deeply honored by this recognition and am excited to help carry on Dr. Sulzman’s legacy. I would like to thank Tracey Holloway for nominating me, my letter writers for their support, the volunteers who served on the selection committee, and the Biogeosciences section for this award. I am indebted to my former and current graduate advisees whose passion, curiosity, and hard work have made mentoring such a pleasure: J. David Felix, Marion Divers, Lucy Rose, Zhongjie Yu, Justin Coughlin, Katie Redling, Becky Forgrave, and Angela Chung. I am grateful to my dissertation advisor, Dr. Grace Brush, who is the epitome of a lifelong learner, scholar, and friend, as well as to my postdoctoral advisor, Dr. Carol Kendall, whose enthusiasm for isotopes hooked me in our very first interactions. I have benefited greatly from the inspiration provided by mentoring and leadership training programs offered by the Earth Science Women’s Network, Forward to Professorship, Science Ambassadors, and many breakfast dates with Jeanne VanBriesen. A special thanks to my army of supporters including my family, friends, and especially Daniel Bain.

—Emily M. Elliott, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Claudia Czimczik will receive the 2017 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award is given to “one mid-career female scientist…for significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists.”

 

Citation

We are excited to announce our selection of Dr. Claudia Czimczik, an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), as the recipient of the 2017 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring. The Sulzman Award is given annually for significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists. Dr. Czimczik was selected because she is an accomplished researcher and an excellent mentor and educator to undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

As a researcher, Dr. Czimczik is a pioneer in the application of radiocarbon techniques to understanding soil carbon dynamics. She advanced this field by developing methods to measure radiocarbon on small sample sizes in novel systems, establishing field sites in Greenland to investigate carbon cycling responses to climate variation in the High Arctic, and investigating the contribution of black carbon to soil carbon storage. In addition, she made substantial contributions to understanding greenhouse gas fluxes and carbon storage in urban soils in southern California.

As a mentor and educator, in addition to her regular course load as an associate professor, which includes hands-on approaches, Dr. Czimczik teaches short courses in radiocarbon dating that she adapted to include Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) participants and uses creative teaching and outreach efforts for the public. So far in her career, she has mentored 18 undergraduates, resulting in five theses. Her success in mentoring and training the next generation of scientists is borne out by the success of her mentees, who have gone on to numerous professional and academic positions. As one nominator put it, “What sets [Dr. Czimczik’s] record above the norm and sets it as a candidate for the Sulzman are the additional activities she undertakes to help develop students from UCI and elsewhere.” “[She] is an enormously productive and talented researcher who is taking those steps beyond the expected to help develop junior scholars, preparing them to be successful in their own careers, and to carry forward a culture of mentorship.” Dr. Czimczik’s strong commitment to diversity is also evidenced by her role as a mentor in the UCI Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience (DECADE) program, which focuses on the recruitment and retention of diverse graduate students. She also reaches diverse audiences through K–12 and public outreach programs.

—Ruth Varner, University of New Hampshire

Response

I am honored to be recognized with the Sulzman Award and would like to thank all who supported my nomination. I am glad to be a biogeoscientist and to be part of the international community of scientists and educators within AGU.

Many uncertainties remain as to whether thawing permafrost will become a carbon source to the atmosphere, and training the next generation of scientists who can help solve this critical issue is important to me. As a biogeoscientist, fieldwork connects me to the system I study, and keeps me fit. More important, it challenges me to understand my data sets within the context of a landscape. Just as how my mentors taught me the importance of taking representative samples, I endeavor to pass this knowledge down to my students and postdocs. Back in the lab, we use torches, cryogenic liquids, and instrumentation the size of a room, and it gives me great joy to see students mastering techniques and learning about the power of radiocarbon and how we can use this to understand the changing world around us.

As biogeoscientists, we are in a unique position to share our knowledge so that the people in our communities can make more informed decisions for a sustainable future. I strive to take all my students into wildlands and cultural landscapes to teach them about the importance of soils and plants. It is my hope that through these experiences my students can appreciate the services terrestrial ecosystems provide to us humans and how our actions can have local, regional, and global consequences. I also believe that biogeoscientists can lead by example and show our students and the public how the pursuit of knowledge brings people from different backgrounds together in peaceful discourse.

I am grateful to my mentors, students, and peers who helped shape the researcher and teacher that I am today. My mentors, including C. Beierkuhnlein, K. Müller-Hohenstein, A. Paulsch, C. Preston, J. Randerson, M. Schmidt, E.-D. Schulze, S. Trumbore, J. Welker, and X. Xu, welcomed me into their worlds, patiently taught me how to read landscapes, write, operate instruments, and quantify uncertainties, and encouraged me to always share good ideas. I thank my postdocs and my graduate and undergraduate students for their curiosity and hard work. As an educator, I encourage all students to keep on asking questions, demand time with their mentors, go on field trips, be peer mentors, and become part of the research community.

—Claudia Czimczik, University of California, Irvine

Erika Marín-Spiotta will receive the 2016 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 12–16 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given for “significant contributions by a mid-career female scientist as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists.”

 

Citation

Erika Marín-Spiotta, an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, was awarded the 2016 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring. The Sulzman Award is given annually for significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists. Erika perfectly fits this role through her excellent research, service, and teaching. Not only does Erika lead a cutting-edge research program at the interface of biogeochemistry, ecosystem ecology, soil science, and geography, she is widely recognized as a dedicated advisor, mentor, and advocate of students of all levels. As one letter writer states, “Erika fully deserves such recognition for her dedication to ideals and practice of mentorship, from which not only her lab “family” greatly benefits, but which also benefit a much broader network of people throughout the Earth Sciences community.” Further, Erika is a tireless advocate for women and those from underrepresented groups. This is highlighted across many of her activities, from Erika’s work as a board member of the nonprofit Earth Science Women’s Network, to her leadership to educate the geoscience community about the problem of sexual harassment.

As another letter writer wrote, “In summary, [Erika] is an excellent candidate for [the Sulzman Award] because she is a strong mentor and educator, as well as a strong intellectual role model. Her public work advocating for women in science is also fundamentally intersectional, recognizing the importance of addressing gender inequality in the context of race, ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation. She is clearly making the academy a better place.” Erika Marín-Spiotta’s contributions to the field of biogeosciences, and beyond, have been transformative.

—Christine Wiedinmyer, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo.

Response

It’s an honor to receive the Sulzman Award. I would like to thank Christine Wiedinmyer for nominating me, my letter writers for their support, and the volunteers who served on the selection committee. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is working with students inside and outside the classroom. Teaching has made me a better scientist, and my work has benefited from engaging with students from different backgrounds who bring new perspectives to the learning process and content. I am a strong advocate of early and active engagement in research for undergraduate students, as this has been shown to have a transformative effect on student achievement, especially for historically underrepresented students. My lab has a strong mentoring culture, and I actively encourage mentor training and the professional development of my graduate and undergraduate students. I am fortunate to work in a place that recognizes the value of teaching and mentorship. I have benefited from several programs led by colleagues on campus that train faculty to be better mentors and educators as well as provide mentorship at different career stages. I am thankful for the opportunities to take on leadership roles through the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) and here at AGU to make science more inclusive. I am especially proud of the work we are doing to come up with solutions to the vile problem of sexual harassment and other forms of bullying and discrimination, and have been inspired by the broad coalition of individuals, organizations, and institutions coming together. I am thankful for a network of generous mentors and mentees who have helped me along my career and inspired me to help others.

—Erika Marín-Spiotta, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison

Ruth Varner will receive the 2015 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring at the 2015 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 14–18 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given for "significant contributions by a mid-career female scientist as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists."

 

Citation

Ruth Varner is acknowledged as a highly distinguished researcher in the field of biogeochemistry, where she leads projects spanning field observations through global modeling and devised novel techniques to measure methane. As an educator, she demonstrates long-term and substantial commitment to outreach and mentorship in a wide spectrum of community and academia. Letters in support of her nomination repeatedly acknowledge the centrality of education and outreach to her research program, with particular praise for the “cascade mentorship model” that she helped to develop. Dr. Varner has an impressive track record as a generous mentor, a distinguished researcher, and effective director of the Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education at the University of New Hampshire (UNH).

—Marilyn L. Fogel, University of California, Merced

Response

It is a great honor to receive the 2015 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Sulzman Award. Being recognized for my teaching and mentoring and placed alongside Dr. Sulzman is truly humbling.

During my career I have been able to do research in remote locations and work alongside students. Early on, I recognized that each student I worked with was a unique individual, that while one student could be very independent, another needed a more hands-on approach. For science to be accessible, we have to acknowledge and support these differences. This supportive research environment may require multiple mentors: graduate students, postdocs, staff, and faculty. My research group practices what we call “cascade mentoring.” This approach came out of a partnership between our research group at UNH and Dr. Jill Bubier at Mount Holyoke College. Simply put, cascade mentoring succeeds because it recognizes that each student needs different things at different times in their development as a scientist. Most recently, I have used this approach in the Research Experience for Undergraduates program I run. The students in this program receive support from multiple mentors—faculty, postdoctoral scholars, international partners, and grad students. It takes a lot to succeed as a team. But the core component of this success is collaboration built on the ability to recognize the strengths of each individual member. I believe my career is not only about grants and publications but about training the next generation. Every day I marvel in how lucky I am to have the job I have.

The reason I have been able to understand what makes mentoring work is that I have been fortunate to have had supportive mentors during my career. From my beginnings as an undergraduate in Hartwick College’s Geology Department and continuing through my graduate, postdoctoral, and faculty career at the University of New Hampshire, my mentors, Dr. Alexandra Moore, Dr. Dave Hutchison, Dr. Patrick Crill, Dr. Jill Bubier, Dr. Michael Keller, and Dr. Frank Birch, have supported and believed in me as a unique individual, each providing me with different kinds of support. I can’t thank them enough. I have also had tremendous support from faculty, staff, and administrators here at UNH. They are too numerous to name individually, but I am grateful to them all. In their own way, each person has enabled me to combine my research and mentoring in a way that allows many students and teachers to have access to research opportunities. I am also grateful to the National Science Foundation for fostering the development of programs that include an appropriate level of support to let me implement mentoring activities.

Thank you, Dr. Scott Saleska, for writing my nomination letter, and Dr. Robert Harriss, Dr. Patrick Crill, and Dr. Maria Hunter, for writing letters in support of my nomination. Special thanks to the Biogeosciences section of AGU for giving me this wonderful honor.

—Ruth K. Varner, University of New Hampshire, Durham

Claudia Benitez-Nelson received the 2014 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring at the 2014 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, held 15–19 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given for "significant contributions by a mid-career female scientist as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists."

 

Citation

Dr. Claudia Benitez-Nelson is a College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor in the Marine Science Program and Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of South Carolina (USC). She is the recipient of the 2014 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring, which “recognizes women in AGU who have sustained an active research career in a field related to biogeosciences, while excelling in teaching, mentoring young scientists, and serving as critical role models for the next generation of female scientists.”

Dr. Benitez-Nelson has made mentoring, teaching, and outreach a critical component of her career. Her impact at South Carolina was immediate, resulting in her being named the 2002 South Carolina Alliance for Minority Participation Outstanding Mentor. In 2005, she received the Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award and was named Outstanding Faculty of the Year by the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Since then, she has continued to receive awards for excellence in outreach and teaching. In 2013 she was named USC Distinguished Professor of the Year, USC’s highest honor.

What makes Dr. Benitez-Nelson so special is that she also maintains a high profile and active research program. Her research focuses on understanding the ocean’s role in climate change, as well as human impacts on nutrient biogeochemistry and coastal ecology. She has authored or coauthored over 80 publications in a wide range of journals and is the recipient of over $4 million in research funds. In 2006, Dr. Benitez-Nelson’s research was recognized by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), who awarded her the Ocean Sciences Early Career Award.

Those who know her best agree that Dr. Benitez-Nelson’s many accomplishments in her career, her vast connections within the oceanography community, her service on prestigious committees and boards, and her passion for education, mentoring, and outreach are why she is the recipient of the 2014 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring.

—Deidre Gibson, Hampton University, Hampton, Va.; and Adina Paytan, University of California, Santa Cruz

Response

It is a great honor to receive the 2014 Sulzman Award. Dr. Sulzman is a true inspiration to many, and it is a privilege to receive an honor established on her behalf.

I believe that the mentoring and education of scientists throughout their career is critical to the success of our field. Creating a diverse population of researchers brings new insights and allows for novel interactions that might otherwise be lost within more homogeneous groups. Indeed, we now recognize how important biodiversity is to the Earth’s ecosystem; is it so hard to believe that the same is true for the geosciences? The difficulty is to convince students from varied backgrounds just how exciting, challenging, and, ultimately, rewarding a science career can be. I feel I have the best job ever! I have the opportunity to conduct research in any area that I choose and to interact with scientists and students from cultures all over the world.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by a truly wonderful support group—strong female mentors and colleagues; the faculty, staff, and administration at the University of South Carolina who have allowed me to be innovative in both research and education; and an incredible partner who always supports me in everything that I do.

I thank Dr. Adina Paytan and Dr. Deidre Gibson for nominating me for this wonderful award, Dr. John Farrington and Dr. Mary Jo Richardson for their letters of support, and the Biogeosciences section of AGU for giving me this wonderful honor.

—Claudia Benitez-Nelson, University of South Carolina, Columbia

Heidi Steltzer received the 2013 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given for “significant contributions by a mid-career female scientist as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists.”

 

Citation

Heidi Steltzer, an assistant professor at Fort Lewis College, received the 2013 Sulz­man Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring at the 2013 Fall Meeting. This award “recognizes women in AGU who have sustained an active research career in a field related to biogeosciences, while excelling in teaching and especially in mentoring young scientists.” Awardees are to serve as critical role models for the next generation of female scientists by sharing their passion for the natural world. Those who know her best agree that Heidi’s passion for teaching and training the next generation of researchers truly embodies the spirit of the Sulzman award. According to one nominator, “Heidi single-handedly pushed [her] department toward a more modern and integrated view of the biological sciences, revamping curricula in both majors’ and non-majors’ courses to include citizen science, cross-disciplinary investigation techniques, and thought-provoking forays into real-world/real-time problems.” Another nominator commented that “Heidi has made an incredibly strong impact on the careers of countless students through both compassionate and enthusiastic mentoring, as well as leadership in institutional and programmatic efforts that foster student professional development and that provide research experiences. I think it is extraordinary that at this relatively early point in her career, she has already achieved a lasting legacy.”

In addition to being an outstanding teacher and mentor, Heidi has enhanced our understanding of how climate changes and anthropogenic alterations to ecosystems, such as dust deposition, influence the seasonal dynamics of plant growth and carbon and nutrient cycling. Remarkably, Heidi has been able to publish a number of high-profile papers while teaching up to eight classes a year and leading a full and energetic family life.

In conclusion, Heidi Steltzer is exactly the kind of inspiring and creative teacher, mentor, and researcher the Sulzman Award was meant to honor.

—MICHAEL N. WEINTRAUB, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio

Response

I am honored to receive the AGU Sulzman Award and am especially honored to be the first recipient of this award established in memory of Elizabeth Sulzman. At the 2013 Fall Meeting, I learned about the thought and work that went into establishing this award and want to thank all who contributed to its establishment. Awards that recognize outstanding female scientists are needed.

While both genders face challenges in pursuing scientific careers, as a mother, researcher, and educator, I have found the challenges to be greater than expected. I think many women do. Women more often than men feel the need to choose between career and family, choosing family or a career with less opportunity for leadership. The result is a decrease in the proportion of mid- and late-career women relative to men in leadership positions.

As an undergraduate and graduate student, I was fortunate to participate in incredible National Science Foundation (NSF)– and Howard Hughes Medical Institute–supported programs, such as the NSF-Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory and an NSF graduate fellowship. These programs, the community of male and female colleagues I have developed, and my family, particularly my husband and mother, have enabled me to remain committed to a career in science, where I hope I can make a difference toward improving our understanding of the natural world and innovating education, including the changes needed to enable men and women to pursue and remain in scientific careers. A special thanks to Mike Weintraub for your friendship and support and the nomination for this award.

—HEIDI STELTZER, Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo.

Honors Contacts

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Artesha Moore

Vice President, Affiliation, Engagement & Membership

202-777-7530 | [email protected]

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Leah Bland

Program Manager, Honors

202-777-7389 | [email protected]

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Rosa Maymi

Director, Engagement and Membership

202-777-7322 | [email protected]

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Hannah Hoffman

Honors and Affiliation Program Coordinator

202-777-7515 | [email protected]