Africa award for research excellence
in earth or ocean sciences
Information on the Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth or Ocean Sciences
The Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth or Ocean Sciences is given annually to an early career scientist from the African continent in recognition of significant work that shows the focus and promise of making outstanding contributions to research in Earth or ocean sciences.
Successful candidates will have the talent and drive necessary to excel in long careers in the Earth or ocean sciences. Expectations for this award includes significant original contributions to Earth or ocean science research in Africa, excellence in research, student mentorship, acting as the main driver of the science when working in collaborative teams, and outstanding service and outreach to society.
Established in 2015 by the generosity of Sunanda Basu, this award supports diversity in the Earth and space science community by recognizing excellence in research by African scientists and expanding opportunities for international collaboration on the African continent.
1$1,000 monetary prize
2A three-year membership to AGU
3Recognition in Eos
4Recognition and invitation to present at AGU’s Fall Meeting during the award presentation year
5Award winners are eligible for travel support and meeting registration for AGU Fall Meeting through the Lloyd V. Berkner Travel Fellowship Fund
6Two complimentary tickets to the Honors Banquet at AGU’s Fall Meeting during the award presentation year
1Nominee membership: The nominee is not required to be an active AGU member.
Nominees must be: (1) citizens or permanent residents of a country on the African continent, (2) within 10 years of receiving a Ph.D. from any institution, and (3) teaching, conducting research, or working on science-related issues at an African institution.
PLEASE NOTE: Allowances to the 10-year eligibility requirement will be considered under AGU's Honors Program Career Stage Eligibility Requirement Allowance Policy. This policy grants allowances to the career stage eligibility requirement based on the following family or medical leave circumstances: childbirth; adoption; personal serious illness; primary caregiver of a person with a health condition, and any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, child, or parent of the employee is engaged in military service. Allowances for other extenuating circumstances not covered in the above examples (i.e., economic hardship, other career breaks, etc.) can also be considered.
3Nominators must be active AGU members and in compliance with the Conflict of Interest Policy. Duplicate nominations for the same individual will not be accepted. However, one co-nominator is permitted (but not required) per nomination.
4Supporters, or individuals who write letters of support for the nominee, are not required to be active AGU members but must be in compliance with the Conflict of Interest Policy.
Your nomination package must contain all of the following files, which should be no more than two pages in length per document. For detailed information on the requirements, review the Union Awards, Medals and Prizes Frequently Asked Questions.
- A nomination letter with one-sentence citation (150 characters or less). Letterhead stationery is preferred. Nominator’s name, title, institution, and contact information are required. The citation should appear at either the beginning or end of the nomination letter.
- A curriculum vitae for the nominee. Include the candidate’s name, address and email, history of employment, degrees, research experience, honors, memberships, and service to the community through committee work, advisory boards, etc.
- A selected bibliography stating the total number, the types of publications and the number published by AGU.
- Three letters of support not including the nomination letter. Letterhead is preferred. Supporter’s name, title, institution, and contact information are required.
Criteria for a successful nomination
Successful candidates should show the talent and drive necessary to excel in long careers in the Earth or ocean sciences including through:
1Significant original contributions to Earth or ocean science research in Africa
2Demonstrated excellence in research in Earth or ocean sciences.
4Being the main drivers of the science when working in collaborative teams.
5Demonstrated outstanding service or outreach to society.
Marjolaine Krug was awarded the 2021 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth Sciences at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held 15 December 2021 in New Orleans, LA.. The award is given in recognition of “significant work that shows the focus and promise of making outstanding contributions to research in Earth or ocean sciences".
Dr. Marjolaine Krug is a skilled and rigorous scientist, a fearless innovator, an enthusiastic and generous mentor and collaborator, an international leader and an outstanding advocate for African ocean science and scientists.
Much of Marjo’s extraordinary impact as a researcher is due to her willingness to pioneer new applications and take risks. She was the first to fly underwater gliders in one of the world’s fastest currents, the Agulhas Current; the first to use synthetic aperture radar imagery to map ocean surface currents around Africa; and the first to publish an algorithm that allows the Agulhas Current to be tracked operationally. Marjo directs her research to intellectually challenging problems with significant conservation and societal impact, such as the influence of the Agulhas Current on the continental shelf environment. Her work provides a robust scientific basis for the development of policy to protect and sustain Africa’s coastal oceans and resources.
Marjo is one of the rare oceanographers who seamlessly moves between realms, from remote sensing to field campaigns and from research to applications. Not content to practice in an ivory tower, Marjo recently became the director of Africa’s first operational oceanography system, the Oceans and Coastal Marine Information System (OCIMS). OCIMS is emerging as a practical demonstration of the use of ocean data and technology in service to environmental governance and a sustainable economy for South Africa. This vital national role comes with ample challenges and setbacks, yet when faced with these, Marjo presses on until her efforts lead to success.
Marjo’s energy, excellence and straightforward communication style make her an outstanding leader, collaborator and mentor. Marjo currently leads a U.N.-sponsored team of international oceanographers who are addressing the profound need for new partnerships and observing strategies to better monitor our rapidly changing coastal seas. She serves on several other international research panels. Marjo freely shares her scientific expertise and insight and has supervised 15 young scientists from South Africa, Namibia, Madagascar and beyond, 11 to a graduate degree.
Marjolaine Krug is unequivocally dedicated to the advancement of African ocean science and scientists. Her rigorous research and her dedication to open, collaborative science ensure that her own and her African colleagues’ work will continue to have global impact. Her embrace of challenging and important problems of regional significance and her new role leading the development of South Africa’s marine information system ensure that her work benefits Africa and Africans.
— Deirdre Byrne
Center for Satellite Applications and Research, NOAA
I would first like to convey my deep gratitude to my nominator, Dr. Deirdre Byrne, for her kind words and encouragement. Many thanks also to everyone who supported me for this award.
I was born in France and came to South Africa in the late 1990s. This country captured my heart and has now been my home and the home of my children for over 2 decades. I am deeply honored to receive this award and even more happy to be the first female recipient. Many on this continent have not had the same privileges as I have, and I would therefore like to dedicate this award to all the African women who were robbed of their potential due to past injustice. At the same time, I am extremely encouraged by the increasing pool of talented African scientists that is emerging, such as my colleagues Dr. Lauren Williams, Dr. Issufo Halo and many others. I have no doubt that many of them will be nominated for the award in the forthcoming years, and I am happy that I will be able to play a role in that.
I came to research at quite a late stage in my life and never initially envisaged a career in academia. Being a researcher is such a rewarding career, with constant opportunities to learn and to meet inspiring human beings. I have had the pleasure to work alongside some really great people in the last 10 years such as Professor Seb Swart, Professor Pierrick Penven, Dr. Fabrice Collard and many others. I am grateful to Professor Mathieu Rouault for demystifying the idea of what academic research is and for the support of the Nansen Tutu Center for Marine Environmental Research over the years. I also want to thank Professor Juliet Hermes for, among other things, suggesting that I apply to be part of the Ocean Observations Physics and Climate Panel (OOPC). Working alongside accomplished international researchers at the OOPC who are driven to make a difference has really broadened my perspective. Many wonderful female scientists have inspired me and tried to give me a hand up along the way, such as Professor Lisa Beal and Professor Bernadette Sloyan.
Today, I have the opportunity to serve the country that has welcomed me, South Africa. I look forward to giving back to this promising continent over the years to come.
— Marjolaine Krug
Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment
Pretoria, South Africa
Ameha Atnafu Muluneh
Ameha Atnafu Muluneh was awarded the 2020 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth Sciences at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held virtually in December 2020. The award is given in recognition of “significant work that shows the focus and promise of making outstanding contributions to research in Earth or ocean sciences.
Andy Green was awarded the 2019 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Ocean Sciences at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 11 December 2019 in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given in recognition of “significant work that shows the focus and promise of making outstanding contributions to research in Earth or ocean sciences.”
Dr. Andrew Green is an exceptional young marine geoscientist, actively engaged in placing the African continent’s marine geology in the international spotlight. His research career began when South African marine geology was at an all-time low because of a lack of academic expertise. He has, since his Ph.D. 10 years ago, become the hinge point behind the resurrection of South Africa’s status as an international member of the marine geology community. His research unit, the only such in Africa, is a vibrant and productive center that draws international collaboration and students from countries across the continent and abroad.
Dr. Green’s work has focused on examining coastal and shelf geomorphology and sedimentology in response to forcing induced by sea level change. His holistic treatment of shelf-coastal morphologic systems in the context of major changes in sea level has been novel and has confirmed the existence of meltwater pulses in SE African waters. Given the dense clustering of urban areas along the SE African coast, the detailed understanding of how past shorelines in the region responded to and were modified by high rates of sea level rise will be valuable data sets to adapt to and mitigate future sea level changes that are predicted to be as high as 2 meters by the end of the 21st century.
Dr. Green is a prolific scholar, producing significant research results in a part of the world that is comparatively poorly studied. To date, he has published 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 30 of these as first author and 23 as project leader of student-authored work. This emphasis on student-driven publication is a major boost to capacity development and skill training for young African scientists.
Dr. Green has significantly expanded African access to complex and expensive geophysical equipment and software. Considering that few universities in the world own their own bathymetric and seismic acquisition systems, he has positioned his team as the central touchpoint for research on the seafloor and coastlines of the continent. Dr. Green has a strong dedication to the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban; he was appointed lecturer while still a Ph.D. student, promoted to tenured lecturer in 2010 and associate professor in 2016, and serves as the academic leader of the Geology Department. His passion to gain experience in various geophysical tools and reinvest it into the South African tertiary education sector led to him being named an African Fulbright scholar in 2018.
—John A. Goff, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin
I am deeply honored to have been awarded the 2019 AGU Africa Award for Research Excellence in Ocean Sciences. I would like to thank AGU for the award and for placing Africa in the spotlight. I am encouraged now, more than ever, to spread the good news of our wonderful continent. Much is yet to be done from this part of the world!
I am indebted to my nominator, John Goff. In 2005, John selflessly reached out to a young Ph.D. student, located on the far side of the planet, with much-needed inputs to his first scientific paper. That student was me, and that was where my career began.
Peter Ramsay employed me throughout my M.Sc. and Ph.D. Under Pete’s kind guidance, I was exposed to every facet of shelf geology possible. If there was a piece of equipment that could scan the seafloor, I saw it in action. Much of what I have learned was gleaned from Pete during the months spent sailing the Indian Ocean in the various rust buckets we called survey vessels.
Steve McCourt nurtured my early academic career. As the head of department, he was a source of unwavering support and advice. Steve taught me to think strategically and to seek the advantages amid the somewhat chaotic South African tertiary education system. My great collaborator and dear friend Andrew Cooper took me under his wing in the latter 8 years. The places visited, cold beers shared, papers written, and advice given will remain unmatched. Likewise, Burg Flemming has been an enthusiastic supporter and keen scientific sounding board. He too has provided me with many opportunities I think would not exist otherwise. Of course, I need to thank those who wrote letters of support for my nomination, Joe Kelley and Edward Anthony. I am deeply grateful.
Last, I thank my family. My parents supported my love affair with the ocean since I was a child. The many early-morning car rides to the beach, sunburns, and other injuries were all worth it. Your support has been the greatest gift. To my wife, Lauren, my greatest advocate, this is all meaningless without you. Last, I would like to dedicate this award to our yet unborn child. I hope this will prompt some of the changes needed for you to see the beaches and coasts of the world as we did as children.
—Andy Green, Geological Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Ahzegbobor Philips Aizebeokhai
Ahzegbobor Philips Aizebeokhai received the Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth Sciences at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held 12 December 2018 in Washington, D. C. The award recognizes an early-career scientist from the African continent “for completing significant work that shows the focus and promise of making outstanding contributions to research in Earth sciences.”
Carrying out innovative research in an environment without adequate infrastructure, ranging from electricity and Internet access to research equipment, could be challenging and demotivating. This has often been the story for most young geoscientists who studied and worked in Nigeria or most other sub-Saharan African countries. They have had to quit research, resolve to do only “desktop research” and teaching, or emigrate to a developed country. This, however, has not been the case with Dr. Ahzegbobor Philips Aizebeokhai. In spite of having studied in and currently working in Nigeria, he has chosen to defy the setbacks due to the lack of research facilities and resolved to work hard making use of available resources, mining collaborative opportunities when possible, and, above all, maximizing available learning opportunities. Dr. Aizebeokhai’s recognition with AGU’s Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth Sciences for his contributions in applying hydrogeophysical methods to solving groundwater and environmental challenges in Nigeria is highly deserved and serves as motivation not only for him but also for other young scientists defying the odds and tasking their innovation to solve societal challenges, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr. Aizebeokhai obtained his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in applied geophysics from the University of Ibadan and Covenant University, respectively, in Nigeria. During his doctoral research, he worked closely with Prof. Olayinka of the University of Ibadan and Dr. Singh at the Groundwater Research Group of the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad, India, where he developed 2-D and 3-D field electrical resistivity designs for groundwater investigations in southwestern Nigeria. Since completing his Ph.D. in 2010, he has remained committed to his research on applying geophysical methods for hydrogeological, engineering, and other environmental investigations and has published over 30 scientific papers in both local and international journals. In addition to his research, he is deeply committed to teaching and capacity development for young geoscientists.
In recognition of his research excellence, demonstration of high self-motivation, and commitment to teaching, he was recently promoted from the position of a senior lecturer to a full professor at Covenant University. Prof. Aizebeokhai’s research, teaching, and service contributions show great potential for contributing to effective management of water and environmental resources in sub-Saharan Africa.
—Kennedy O. Doro, Science for Development Research and Teaching Initiative, Lagos, Nigeria
I express my profound gratitude to AGU’s Honors and Recognition Committee for finding me worthy of the AGU Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth Sciences. My sincere appreciation goes to my mentors, Prof. A. I. Olayinka of the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, and Dr. V. S. Singh, Scientist Emeritus of the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad, India. They are the giants on whose shoulders I stand tall and strong; they taught me the art and science of near-surface geophysics. I thank Covenant University for giving me the platform to teach and conduct research in near-surface geophysics. I thank my students, who have always assisted in the field survey. I am grateful to my wife, Uyoyo Anita Aizebeokhai, for her encouragement and support over the years.
Each time I attend a Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) Annual Meeting, when I consider the volume and quality of research work presented by geoscientists across the globe, my heart bleeds because only a handful of the presentations are from Africa. At the 2016 SEG Annual Meeting, for example, out of the several thousands of papers scheduled for presentation, I was the only Nigerian living in Nigeria who made a presentation; the other Nigerians who presented at that conference are living in the United States, Canada, or Europe. The situation is the same in most geoscience international conferences. This shows that Africa is not contributing much in terms of research output to the geoscience world. This may be due to a number of constraints that characterize the research climate in Africa; the most important constraints include inadequate research infrastructure, poor training in the art and science of research, lack of motivation due to poor research incentives from government and institutions, and poor funding. Most researchers in Africa either are not aware of existing funding opportunities or are unable to write competitive research grant proposals to fund research.
I have been faced with all of these challenges; apart from the fact that I was lucky to win a TWAS-CSIR Postgraduate Fellowship at NGRI in 2008 and an SEG Foundation Travel Grant in 2009, I have practically been funding my research from my salary. This naturally poses limitations to the kind of research I am able to conduct. My main motivation for research is born of a strong desire to help raise a new generation of geoscientists with the right paradigm in Africa.
—Ahzegbobor Philips Aizebeokhai, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria
Bruno V E Faria
Bruno Faria received the 2017 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth Science at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 13 December 2017 in New Orleans, La. The award honors an early-career scientist from the African continent for “completing significant work that shows the focus and promise of making outstanding contributions to research in Earth or ocean sciences.”
Dr. Bruno Faria from the National Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics in Mindelo, Cape Verde, is receiving the 2017 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth Science for his work to operate and maintain the seismic monitoring network of Cape Verde’s active volcanoes, leading to a successful prediction of the 2014 eruption of Fogo volcano, and for his broad collaborations with and assistance to foreign Earth, ocean, and atmospheric scientists working in Cape Verde.
Bruno received a B.Sc. from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, and a Ph.D. from the Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon, Portugal, in 2010. His research concentrated on geophysical monitoring of volcanoes, particularly Fogo volcano in Cape Verde. He developed a volcano monitoring network initially deployed at the time of the 1995 eruption of Fogo to extend it to other areas of potential hazard due to local reports of earthquakes. There was no geophysical record of volcanic activity in the country, so the network provided the data needed to establish an alert level system for use by national civil protection authorities. On this and related topics, Bruno has published seven papers since 2003.
Bruno also made time to collaborate with foreign scientists working in Cape Verde involved in volcano and earthquake monitoring, helping them to deploy instruments of their own for research purposes that aided the national monitoring mission. He also worked to establish and operate an atmospheric chemistry monitoring station in Cape Verde, on the island of São Vicente. These efforts led to coauthorship of the published research results. Bruno also fostered scientiﬁc research in his country by acting as a national scientiﬁc liaison in a suite of research cruises. At present, Dr. Faria still plays a key role in Cape Verde’s volcano monitoring efforts and is dedicated to building up national monitoring infrastructure and raising the visibility of Cape Verde science in Africa and internationally.
—George Helffrich, Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo, Japan
First, I would like to thank Dr. George Helffrich for his kind words and for my nomination. I would also like to thank all the colleagues who supported my nomination and the award committee members. I should stress that I am deeply honored and grateful to receive the 2017 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth Science.
At the beginning of my physics sciences studies at Université Catholique de Louvain, I used to dream about the geothermal prospection in Cape Verde, particularly in Fogo, where there is an active volcano. This led me to study—as a part-time study—volcanoes. Thus, at the end of my B.Sc. studies I had acquired some knowledge on how volcanoes work. Then the 1995 Fogo eruption happened. This was the end of my interest in geothermal exploration. Nevertheless, a new interest arose: the geophysical monitoring of volcanoes. Four years after the eruption, I had the great opportunity to collaborate with the ﬁrst permanent monitoring geophysical network of Fogo volcano, a project led by Dr. João Fonseca. I started then a Ph.D. program, whose main goals were to understand the background seismic activity of Fogo volcano and to establish an alert level table for this volcano. Just 4 years after I ﬁnished it, the 2014 eruption of Fogo occurred, and my results were put to the test. Currently, all my attention and eﬀorts are focused on a seismic crisis in Brava that began 2 years ago.
If my achievements have any merit, it is certainly because I was lucky to receive the contributions of so many people: Dr. V. Dehant, who gave me the good taste of the solid Earth geophysics; Dr. G. Helffrich, from whom I learned the ﬁne structure of our planet and how to set up a seismic station correctly; Dr. S. Day, who tirelessly explained to me the structural geology of Fogo and how magma deforms the crust; Dr. João Fonseca, my Ph.D. adviser, whose -open--minded thinking quickly gave me the guidelines for the research in volcano geophysics; and my colleagues at my institute and, particularly, the former administration. My family and Claudia, my life partner, were also crucial, especially my father, who showed me the way of science since my childhood and has always supported me without pressuring me. I’m deeply grateful to all of them!
—Bruno Faria, National Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics, Cape Verde
Musa Siphiwe Manzi
Musa Siphiwe Doctor Manzi received the 2016 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth Science at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 14 December 2016 in San Francisco, Calif. The award honors an early-career scientist from the African continent for “completing significant work that shows the focus and promise of making outstanding contributions to research in Earth and space sciences.”
Dr. Musa Manzi is richly deserving of the AGU Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth Science. A close reading of Dr. Manzi’s published work in international journals reveals an original problem solver and interpretive thinker, and the strength of his academic curriculum vitae, together with his ongoing work, paints a clear picture of an emerging leader in the field of exploration geophysics. While conducting research on three-dimensional seismic imaging of the South African crust, Musa has also thrown himself with committed enthusiasm and great skill into teaching not only seismological theory and applications but also field-based geophysical research to a growing group of international students.
Musa’s life story, seemingly insurmountable obstacles overcome and subsequent achievements, makes him effectively peerless as an African scientist. However, one does not need to be aware of these aspects of his life and times to fully appreciate his scientific work.
Dr. Manzi advances techniques for resource identification and extraction while furthering the science of being able to do so safely, with the interest of the human workers in mind. As an example, we may cite a pair of papers published by Musa in 2012 in the journal Geophysics about seismic attributes, properties of the seismic wavefield that are measured as proxies for properties of the subsurface. In the first paper, new attributes are designed to evaluate ore resources (finding gold), and in the second, these are used to map conduits for water and methane (protecting miners). Sophisticated techniques of three-dimensional wavefield processing are developed and deployed to produce some truly stunning interpreted images of the shallow subsurface. In each case, the skill of the processing routines is responsible for the remarkable quality of the images. In these papers, we see a master of exploration-seismic imaging at play. Beyond seismology, they have been influencing other research endeavors, for example, into the deep subsurface microbiology of the Witwatersrand Basin. Joining these interdisciplinary studies with intellectual audacity and engaging leadership, Musa has now ventured into correlating three-dimensional fracture networks with (a)biogenic gas compositions, microbiology, and subsurface-fracture fluid flow.
Although his rise from student to lecturer to senior researcher and director of the Seismic Research Centre at the University of the Witwatersrand has been meteoric, Musa continues to find time for teaching science and mentoring: undergraduates and graduates, disadvantaged youth, precollege students (on Saturdays), and the beneficiaries of a number of charities that he founded and in which he maintains an active involvement.
—Frederik Simons, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.
I am very grateful to AGU and the members of the selection committee for this unexpected honor, which I receive with heartfelt gratitude and humility. Being a first recipient of the prestigious 2016 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth Science at this stage of my academic career is indeed great motivation and a tremendous honor. I will never forget the hour when I received that email from AGU informing me of the astounding news and how I literally burst into tears of joy and remained speechless at my office desk.
I have always been intrigued by science, involving a combination of physics, math, and geology ever since my undergraduate studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. During my undergraduate years, I had the privilege of working as an assistant researcher for 3 years in physics research laboratories, including the High Pressure and Mossbauer laboratories, which provided me with an opportunity to explore and appreciate the beauty of science. Furthermore, assisting Susan Webb during my vacation periods with many geophysical projects introduced me to the application of physics principles in Earth science, a crucial route that moved me from the physics department to the School of Geosciences for my fourth year in geophysics and then postgraduate studies. My most sincere thanks go to my geophysics lecturers, Susan Webb and Raymond Durrheim. Since my very first footsteps into geophysics, they have been inspiring and nourishing me.
I would also like to express my gratitude to my Ph.D. advisor and mentors, Kim Hein, Lewis Ashwal, and Roger Gibson, who were key personalities for my academic life. I was fortunate to be given by them the liberty to pursue my own interests and conduct independent research on various components of geophysics. I am truly grateful to Frederik Simons and Tullis Onstott for being kind enough to nominate me for this award. For one who grew up under extreme poverty in a rural village in South Africa, and who taught himself and his classmates physics and math because there were no teachers, such an honor is far from self-evident and encourages me to continue on in developing the next generation of inspired and enthusiastic young African scientists. Without the love and support of my family and friends, the emotional toil of teaching and supervising postgraduate students while running many nonprofit organizations would have been unbearably onerous.
—Musa S. D. Manzi, School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa