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athelstan spilhaus award

Information on the Athelstan Spilhaus Award

The Athelstan Spilhaus Award is given annually to an honoree in recognition of their enhancement of the public engagement with Earth and space sciences through devoting portions of their career conveying to the general public the excitement, significance, and beauty of Earth and space science.

Athelstan F. Spilhaus, Sr. was a geophysicist and meteorologist who made innovative contributions to science, education, and public service. As a scientist and cartoonist, Spilhaus enthusiastically communicated with non-scientists through an informative science center at the 1961 World’s Fair in Seattle, as well as a long-running science cartoon featured in approximately 100 newspapers spanning the United States.

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Award benefits

AGU is proud to recognize our honorees. Recipients of the Athelstan Spilhaus Award will receive an engraved award, as well as the following benefits with the honor:

  • 1
    Recognition in Eos
  • 2
    Recognition at AGU’s Fall Meeting during the award presentation year
  • 3
    Two complimentary tickets to the Honors Banquet at the AGU 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.

  1. Nominees: The nominee should be an early-career, middle-career, or senior scientist. AGU membership is not required. They should be in compliance with the Conflict of Interest Policy.
  2. Nominators: 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.
  3. Supporters: 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 the following files, which should be no more than two pages in length per document. For more information, review the AGU’s Honors Conflict of Interest Policy.

  • 1
    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.
  • 2
    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.
  • 3
    Three letters of support not including the nomination letter. Letterhead is preferred. Supporter’s name, title, institution, and contact information are required.
  • 4
    A selected bibliography stating the total number, the types of publications and the number published by AGU (optional).
  • 5
    Supporting files, such as books, articles, newspaper articles, speeches, etc., that illustrate the honoree's effectiveness in communicating the geosciences to non-scientific audiences (optional).
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Award recipients must have demonstrated their commitment and effectiveness in communicating science through a variety of media, including books, television appearances, lectures, and more.

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Nominations are Open!

The nomination cycle for 2022 AGU Union awards, medals, and prizes is now open until 15 April. Nominate a colleague, peer or student today.

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Past recipients

Name Year of honor
Brian May 2019
C. Alex Young 2018
Erik M. Conway 2017
Roberta Marie Johnson 2016
Holly Robin Gilbert 2015
Simon Lamb 2014
Iain Stewart 2013
John R. Delaney 2012
William C. Patzert 2010
Patricia Hofer Reiff 2009
Robert H. Eather 2006


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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Antonio Covington

Program Specialist, Section Awards and Lectures

202-777-7484 | [email protected]