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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.

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Award benefits

AGU is proud to recognize our honorees. Recipients of the Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth or Ocean Sciences will receive an engraved award, as well as the following benefits:
  • 1
    $1,000 monetary prize
  • 2
    A three-year membership to AGU
  • 3
    Recognition and invitation to present at AGU’s Fall Meeting during the award presentation year
  • 4
    Award winners are eligible for travel support and meeting registration for AGU Fall Meeting through the Lloyd V. Berkner Travel Fellowship Fund
  • 5
    Two complimentary tickets to the Honors Banquet at AGU’s Fall Meeting during the award presentation year


To better understand eligibility for nominators, supporters and committee members, review AGU’s Honors Conflict of Interest Policy. All individuals must be in compliance with the Conflict of Interest Policy.

  • 1
    Nominee membership: The nominee is not required to be an active AGU member.
  • 2

    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.

    AGU Honors Program Career Stage Eligibility Requirement Allowance Policy: Exceptions to this eligibility requirement can be considered based on family or medical leave circumstances, nominees whose work conditions have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, or for other extenuating circumstances. All requests will be reviewed. For questions contact [email protected].

  • 3
    Nominators 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.
  • 4
    Supporters, 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.
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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. 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.
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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:

  • 1
    Significant original contributions to Earth or ocean science research in Africa
  • 2
    Demonstrated excellence in research in Earth or ocean sciences.
  • 3
    Student mentorship.
  • 4
    Being the main drivers of the science when working in collaborative teams.
  • 5
    Demonstrated outstanding service or outreach to society.
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Committee Members

Aubreya Nicole Adams

Colgate University


Andrew B Katumwehe

Midwestern State University


Arthur J Miller

University of California San Diego


Nominations are Open!

The nomination cycle for 2023 AGU Union awards, medals, and prizes is now open until 12 April at 23:59 ET. Nominate a colleague, peer or student today.

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It’s an honor to recognize Dr. Edem Mahu, faculty member in the Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences at the University of Ghana (UG), for the 2022 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Ocean Sciences. I thank Kwasi Appeaning-Addo (UG), Sophie Seeyave (Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean, POGO), and the late Kenneth Coale (Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, MLML) for outstanding letters in support of Edem’s nomination.

Edem’s research addresses marine issues of great practical importance. As a UG Ph.D. student, while visiting MLML, she analyzed sediment cores from coastal environments in Ghana for sediment rates, trace metal distributions and environmental toxicity. Edem and her students have published several lab-based lead-author papers in international peer-reviewed journals. However, until recently, Edem did not have the kind of lab that researchers in higher-resourced nations expect. She instead relied upon facilities outside Ghana. Recently, Edem has acquired a well-equipped laboratory at UG. Her group’s research productivity will no doubt accelerate as a result.

Edem has taught several different UG courses, supervised or co-supervised eight graduate students, and supervised 20 undergraduate researchers. To support her team’s research, Edem has received more than $1,000,000 of funding from several entities outside of Africa. Edem’s funded projects range over shellfisheries, plastic waste, microplastics, mangroves, toxic metals, ocean acidification and citizen science monitoring of litter.

Edem has worked tirelessly to bring African institutions into international research networks. For example, she is on the POGO Board of Trustees. I have been collaborating with Edem since 2015 on the Coastal Ocean Environment Summer School in Nigeria and Ghana (COESSING; and, more recently, on other United Nations Decade of Ocean Science activities.

As stated in support letters, Edem is a perfect example of a scientist with training abroad who chooses to use her training and networking skills to develop science in her home country. She sets a shining example to younger African scientists, as evidenced by the flood of congratulatory messages for Edem in our COESSING network after this award was announced. Many oceanographers outside of Africa have turned to Edem for collaboration in global research and capacity development projects. Indeed, so many demands are made of Edem’s time that she has recently learned to say no, and I can’t blame her. Edem’s plate will continue to grow as she realizes her full potential as a leader in African ocean sciences research, education and capacity development.

— Brian Arbic
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan


It is deeply gratifying to receive this recognition of a lifetime from AGU. Creating an award to honor the efforts of ocean scientists from Africa is a true reflection of AGU’S core values of diversity, research excellence and equity.

I am highly pleased to be the recipient of the 2022 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Ocean Sciences. Indeed, with this award, a new chapter has been opened with an all-renewed passion to drive research excellence in ocean sciences in Africa. The award has become a symbol of hope to several young ocean scientists on our continent that their little efforts can make a big difference in our community.

I must confess that the decision to pursue a career in ocean sciences in West Africa was intrepid. The most rewarding aspect of this journey has been my ability to serve our global community, mentor several young scientists, and facilitate the development of ocean science capacity in Africa, while at the same time striving to develop my research as a young woman scientist. Creating opportunities for young scientists has been my utmost goal. It is important to therefore highlight from Professor Brian Arbic’s citation that truly, I started my career in marine biogeochemistry without a research laboratory. Today, with generous support from organizations such as The Royal Society, Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World, the National Geographic Society, the African Academy of Sciences, International Foundation for Science etc., I have a laboratory that accommodates the research of several students in this field.


I am very grateful to my nominators, Professors Brian Arbic, Kenneth Coale and Kwasi Appeaning Addo and Dr. Sophie Seeyave, for writing the winning application. A special tribute to Professor Kenneth Coale, my first mentor, who, sadly, departed this life just a few weeks before this award was announced. I dedicate this award to you, Kenneth, for the difference you have made in my entire career and life. I know you are smiling wherever you are now to see your wife, Susan, accompany me to this ceremony on your behalf.

I am sincerely grateful to the University of Ghana for offering me the platform to serve the world.

Finally, I wish to appreciate my husband, who should have been here with me today to celebrate this special moment but, as has always been, is currently back in Ghana caring for our sons, Kwesi, Kwabena and Kwaku, while I am away. To my family, I say Akpe!

Thank you.

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
Kensington, Maryland


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 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.


Dr. Ameha Atnafu Muluneh is an early-career Ethiopian geoscientist who uses data and models to improve our understanding of continental rifting processes in Africa, with implications for rifting and passive margin formation worldwide.In the past 6 years since completing his Ph.D., Dr. Ameha has published 10 peer-reviewed papers.He has developed analytical and numerical models to predict dynamic stresses on the extending African plate, and he made direct comparisons with fault kinematic and palaeomagnetic data sets.The work forms a strong foundation for understanding of plate rheology, along-axis segmentation, and transform fault initiation at incipient seafloor spreading centers.

Dr. Ameha’s publications demonstrate expertise in paleomagnetism, structural geology, and geodynamics.In addition, he has extensive experience in hydrological and geological mapping from the Geological Survey of Ethiopia prior to his graduate studies.Ameha has forged new links between his home university in Addis Ababa and major research institutes worldwide. He successfully gained third-party funds from the Canon Foundation for a research stay at Kyoto University, Japan; the U.S. Agency for International Development and the National Academy of Sciences to work at the University of Rochester, N.Y.; the Canon FoundationKyoto University Japan-Africa Exchange Program at Kyoto University; the Disaster Prevention Research Institute;and The World Academy of Sciences–German Research Foundation Cooperation Visits Program for a research visit to the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Helmholtz Centre. He very recently gained a competitive grant to work at Oxford University, United Kingdom.He is an affiliate of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (Geophysics) in Trieste, Italy. 

His scientific excellence and multidisciplinary approaches allow him to integrate international collaborations into worldwide visible research on the East African Rift System and to create new opportunities for students and colleagues. He is also a strong advocate for the junior staff members at Addis Ababa University, and he has involved young colleagues in a number of his international collaborations. Ameha also has made major contributions to the promotion of two geothermal prospect areas in Ethiopia.He has very solid evidence of grant capture from both academic and industrial sources, capitalizing on funding that links structural geology to water resources and hydro infrastructure in particular. 

Dr. Ameha is a thoughtful, generous scientist with a passion for research.I speak for many in commending Ameha Atnafu Muluneh for outstanding contributions to our understanding of the geodynamics and kinematics of rifting and implications for hazards and resources.

Cynthia J. Ebinger, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Tulane University, New Orleans, La.


It is an honor and a great pleasure to receive the 2020 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth Science from AGU.

I am grateful to Cindy Ebinger for her dedication during the nomination process.Eleven years ago, when I was an M.Sc. student, I missed the chance to get introduced to her in Afar. Back then, I would have never imagined myself being nominated by her for this incredible award. I also thank her for hosting me during my visit at Rochester in 2016.

Many people helped me throughout my career, and there are six people who deserve a special mention.

I thank Tesfaye Kidane, my M.Sc. thesis adviser and a great research collaborator, who not only helped with my scientific endeavor but also showed me the tricks of surviving in the business. I am grateful for his continuing support and advice.

I also thank my Ph.D. supervisor, Carlo Doglioni, for being a wonderful mentor and for sharing scientific insights. Marco Cuffaro deserves a big thank-you for teaching me GMT and Matlab and also introducing me to the mathematics of plate tectonics.

Likewise, I owe a lot to Giacomo Corti for being an amazing colleague, friend, and research collaborator. Since the day we met in his office in Florence in 2011, I quite enjoyed working with him on several projects studying the Ethiopian Rift.

Over the past 3 years, I have enjoyed working with Derek Keir. Derek has given me so many great opportunities, including better understanding of the seismotectonics of the Ethiopian Rift. His provoking discussions and scientific insights are extremely valuable.

Recently, I started collaborating with Sascha Brune, who I admire the most for his enthusiasm for the Ethiopian and Afar Rifts and also for providing me with access to the numerical modeling facility at GFZ, Potsdam, Germany. I am immensely fortunate to work with all of the scientists mentioned above.

I also acknowledge my colleagues at the School of Earth Sciences, Binyam Hailu, Behailu Birhanu, and Agazi Negash, for the wonderful science ideas we share during coffee (and beer) breaks. I am so incredibly thankful to my wife, Israel; my three children, Amanuel, Alula, and Delina; and my mom and dad for the love and support, which kept me sane.

Ameha Atnafu Muluneh, School of Earth Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia


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 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 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 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