Abstract illustration space and stars

Excellence in earth
and space science
education award

Information on the Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award

The Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award is given annually to a mid-career or senior scientist team, individual, or group demonstrating a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education. Successful candidates have made long-lasting, positive impacts in the Earth and space sciences at any education level from kindergarten through postgraduate studies.


After being established in 1995, the original Excellence in Geophysical Education Award was renamed in March 2017. Robert D. Ballard, who discovered the wreckage of the Titanic and inspired countless students, was the first recipient of this award in 1997. 

Young female students looking at something with a microscope

Award benefits

AGU is proud to recognize our honorees. Recipients of the Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award will receive the following benefits:

  • 1

    An engraved crystal award

  • 2

    Recognition at the AGU 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


Individuals and small groups are eligible to be nominated for this award. To better understand eligibility for nominators, supporters and committee members, review AGU’s Honors Conflict of Interest Policy

  1. Nominees: The nominee is not required to be an AGU member. 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.
Group of people walking in large cave with sunlight from behind

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.
  • 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. The citation should appear at either the beginning or end of the nomination letter.

  • 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.

Teal lake with mountains in background


  • Sustained impact and breadth of impact on Earth and space science education
  • Integration of research and Earth and space science education
  • Ability to influence scientists and other stakeholders with regard to Earth and space science education
  • Mentoring students and early career researchers
  • Commitment to broadening participation among members of underrepresented groups
  • Strength of recommendations
Teacher giving a student a high five in the classroom

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.

Illustration of chaos abstract fractal effect light design



For leadership, advocacy, and impact at the interface between the seismology research and geoscience education communities.


Valerie Sloan is recognized for her sustained, quiet and encouraging leadership of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Geosciences Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) community and for her impact in shifting REU programs to be more effective, diverse, safe and inclusive.

Conversations among REU site managers at the first GEO REU PI Workshop in 2011 organized by Dr. Sloan quickly showed that sharing strategies was valuable. Val facilitated further discussions through a listserv, principal investigator (PI) workshops and conference sessions and so fostered cross-program collaboration and mentoring. Val also strengthened connections between REU managers and scientific societies like SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) and the NABG (National Association of Black Geoscientists). This was the founding of a nationwide GEO REU PI Network in which managers now share resources, tools and support on student selection, mentoring, professional development and cohort development. Prior to this, individual managers had to reinvent the wheel. Recently, Dr. Sloan led 23 community members in writing the “GEO REU Handbook: A Guide for Running Inclusive and Engaging Geoscience Research Internship Programs.” “The entire culture and climate of the GEO REU community shifted under Val’s gentle guidance and personal connection with so many,” said one REU PI. “This is so important because these changes then flow on to positively impact the lives and experiences of the students that we all work with.”

In 2020, many summer programs faced shutting down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving students without opportunities and income. In response, Dr. Sloan rallied the community. She encouraged communication between faculty and the NSF and facilitated community problem-solving that enabled many programs to adapt to virtual programming. As a result, hundreds of students were able to have REU research experiences.

Val has made a consistent effort to raise awareness of biases inherent in internship selection metrics and processes, equitable practices, and the need for an inclusive REU culture for broadening participation. These efforts correspond with an increase in the participation of students from marginalized communities in GEO REU programs. Representation of these communities has grown from about 30% in 2009-2015 to 50% in 2017 and to 65% in 2020.

The impact of this work, her steady guidance and the development of personal connections with community members have resulted in an evolution of the culture and climate of the GEO REU community. These changes, in turn, enable changes at the program level, which then flow on to positively impact the lives and experiences of hundreds of students who participate in GEO REU programs each year. For her combined contributions and leadership, the Earth and space science community thanks Dr. Valerie Sloan for her efforts.

— Mark Moldwin
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan


For demonstrating a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by an individual, group or team. THE GLOBAL LEARNING AND Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program is an unparalleled effort to bring environmental science to students, educators and citizen scientists worldwide.

By leveraging evidence-based best practices for teaching Earth system science, GLOBE has cultivated a vibrant global community that is passionate about science and the environment. GLOBE students do not just read about science, they do science! This powerful approach has impacted over 40,000 educators and over 1 million students in 126 countries during its 25+ years of operation since 1994.

GLOBE engages a diverse population of students in authentic, hands-on scientific research and project-focused investigations using >50 data collection protocols developed by scientists, modern technology infrastructure and linkages to major scientific missions. Training of educators in the use of these protocols has helped to ensure data quality and reinforce the content knowledge, scientific skills and efficacy of a global community of primary and secondary teachers. The authenticity of the scientific questions explored by GLOBE students and the opportunities for students to engage with a network of scientists have yielded long-term positive impacts on student learning and attitudes toward science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and STEM careers.

GLOBE’s international dimensions and participant diversity are unique assets of the program, both for enabling regional and planet-scale Earth system science investigations and for promoting diplomacy through the scientific enterprise. Doing more than just collecting scientific data, GLOBE students experience what it is like to be an Earth scientist through collaboration, peer review and sharing of their findings. GLOBE opens doors for many students who have never before participated in science-focused events, through coordinated research campaigns, regional student research symposia and the annual International Virtual Science Symposium.

GLOBE Learning Expeditions, held periodically in international settings, promote awareness of our rich cultural differences and reinforce appreciation for the important role science plays in finding common ground and uniting to confront our shared environmental vulnerabilities. Yet GLOBE is so much more than an education program; it also contributes meaningfully to advancing scientific discovery.

Coordinated GLOBE student research campaigns have contributed to scientific research focused on climate change impacts and tracking Zika-spreading mosquito species, among others. Collectively, GLOBE students have contributed more than 200 million measurements to the program’s curated database, which offers a unique and rich resource for additional time series studies on environmental change. Given GLOBE’s immense impact on science education worldwide, those future investigations will, perhaps, be led by GLOBE alumni!

— Jill L. Karsten National Science Foundation (retired) Eden Prairie, Minnesota


“The GLOBE Program is honored to join the long list of distinguished recipients with this award,” said Dr. Tony Murphy, director of the GLOBE Implementation Office. “This award acknowledges the dedication and effort of all the GLOBE community in building the program from a small number of countries in 1995 to 126 countries today, with a database of over 200 million measurements for use in research by students and scientists, and new technology advancements, including The GLOBE Program’s app, GLOBE Observer. Without the efforts of all those involved worldwide, this unique program would not be possible.” The GLOBE Program (www.globe.gov) is an interagency program sponsored by NASA and supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, NOAA and the U.S. Department of State and implemented through a cooperative agreement between NASA and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Colorado. When the program began operations building the infrastructure in 1994, staff from these agencies, plus the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency worked together diligently to prepare various components for a launch date of 22 April 1995. In addition to a suite of scientific protocols for environmental science measurements that could be collected by students in K-12 schools globally, the technical infrastructure for entering, storing and analyzing the data had to be created. Other programmatic components, including educational resources in multiple languages, national and international training workshops and an international agreement for countries entering the program, were developed within the context of this new “World Wide Web.” The concept of involving students and adults in projects where they would assist scientists in the collection and analysis of data is not new. However, the difference between GLOBE and these other efforts is the ambitious nature of this “citizen science” project (schools in all countries, diverse types and numbers of protocols, collection of data in areas (pedosphere)) while using the fledgling internet as a backbone for the infrastructure. While much has changed in the 26 years of its existence (growth in countries and data, governance of the program, rapid development of existing and new technologies, including the program’s app, GLOBE Observer, etc.), the vision and mission are still core to the program and visible in some instances with alumni who are serving in leadership positions, such as GLOBE teachers, government employees and country coordinators around the world!


Sheri Klug Boonstra has been a leader and innovator in Earth and space sciences education—especially where Mars is concerned—for decades.Throughout her career, she has created award-winning ways to use authentic planetary science data in classrooms via the Mars Student Imaging Project(MSIP) and has provided professional development experiences for educators thatintegrate scientists and the latest research with pedagogical excellence.She has created numerous curricula, always hands-on, mindson, and standardsbased.Most recently, her vision and hard work have come together into an online academy called L’SPACE (Lucy Student Pipeline Accelerator and Competency Enabler), which embodies the reality behind the process of planning and building planetary science missions. L’SPACE uses actual high-value science targets from NASA to drive student projects to inform the engineering mission design. She also cocreated and coinstructs the expansive undergraduate set of courses called Space Works at Arizona State University.Both of these experiences cultivate 21st century skills for the next generation of explorers and provides them the mentorship needed to succeed.

Sheri is 100% committed to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematicsequity and diversity and always walks the talk.She has been invited to bring her programs to many STEM-neglected communities, including rural, Native American, and Latinx. She instituted an underserved-focused skill-building internship program as part of L’SPACE and has achieved 40% minority and 40% female participation in their first 15 months of programming. Throughout her career she has kept her finger on the pulse of educational research and best practices; because of that, she continues to find herself on the leading edge of trends.

Sheri is in close touch with the needs and realities of the educators and learners she serves and has designed and delivered all her products and programs from their perspective. It is the same now with the undergrads she is working with in L’SPACE and Space Works.She is deeply listening and hearing what they need in order to see themselves in this career path and centers them in her workforce development conversations and efforts, which is, without a doubt, the best practice in STEM equity. 

From her beginnings as a classroom teacher in rural Idaho, to putting the power to direct an instrument orbiting Mars in the hands of K12 students, to her workforce development efforts at the university level, Sheri has made a lasting impact on all kinds of learners over the course of her career. She has balanced touching individual lives with influencing policy and best practices. Her work is expansive and multifaceted, and the places where she has infused her considerable passion and energy have grown like wildflowers in a summer meadow. 

Daniella ScaliceNASA Astrobiology Program, Ames Research CenterMoffett Field, CA


It is a humbling honor to have been awarded the AGU 2020 Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award. I would like to thank AGU, my AGU colleagues, and those who wrote the recommendationsDaniella Scalice, Phil Christensen, Michael Meyer, and Orlando Figueroafor their kindness.

My love for science, space, and education has always been deeply rooted in my life. Throughout the past 25 years, my passion for making science discovery and learning available to all, regardless of their location, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or education preparation, grew to become my life’s calling. Being able to reach beyond geographical boundaries to spread the wonder of the natural world to all those interested helped shape my understanding of how learning science could be reimagined. The Mars Student Imaging Project (MSIP), using Phil Christensen’s THEMIS (Thermal Emission Imaging System) camera orbiting Mars, provided transformational deep STEM research experiences for 80,000+ students in fifth grade through early college. Many thanks to the Mars Program and Mars Odyssey Team for the long-term support of MSIP that made the transformational student learning possible. 

I have been privileged to collaborate with a great number of talented people over the years. Defining, long-term partnerships with people and organizations in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) and the Navajo Nation guided essential understandings and efforts by listening to and working with communities of color to inform us what their audience needs are and how best we can partner with them to achieve their learning goals. Many thanks to Daniella Scalice for leading the NASA and the Navajo NationPrograms, allowing me to work with her and learn from the Diné elders and medicine people within the Navajo Nation. Thank you also to the Texas Valley Communities Foundation and especially Dann Garcia for the 15 years of partnership and mentoring while serving the Hispanic communities in the RGV.

Finally, in the latest chapter of my life, I wish to thank the Lucy Mission Team and NASA Science Mission Directoratefor supporting a new type of student collaboration projectthe Lucy Student PipelineAccelerator and Competency Enabler (L’SPACE) Program. At the core of this program, undergraduate students learn how to work together on virtual teams, embracing diversity and innovation. This NASA workforce development program has already impacted the futures of thousands of students as they gain skills and competencies that will empower them to shape the future of exploration and meet the challenges facing this planet.

Sheri Klug Boonstra, Arizona State UniversityTempe


David Moore was awarded the 2019 Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 11 December 2019 in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given “for a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.”



The fields of ecosystem ecology and land-atmosphere interactions owe a great debt to Dr. David J. P. Moore and his work in shepherding the next generation of Earth system scientists. Dave is at the vanguard of a community effort to train early-career scientists and technical professionals how to combine data and models to assess impacts of global change on ecosystems and associated biogeochemical cycles. Dave helped develop a first-of-its-kind summer course in flux observations and advanced modeling (Fluxcourse). Under his leadership, the 2-week course is now entering its twelfth year. The Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award recognizes Dave’s passion and educational accomplishments in Fluxcourse and sustained contributions to education and professional development of early-career scientists.

More than 200 scientists from around the world have been trained by the course, in emerging global change fields that are increasingly important but not available at many universities. The course brings a diverse student body to a beautiful research station in the Colorado Rockies, where they gain hands-on experience in eddy covariance, integration of high-density databases, model-data fusion, and ecological synthesis and inference. Modules are taught by the world’s experts, and the collaborative assignments foster career-building connections. Dave has succeeded in his commitment to increasing the participation of students and instructors traditionally underrepresented in the field, from multiple countries and institution types.

Dave’s pedagogic framework is highly effective. He employs social media tools, professionally produced interactive film modules for international education, and personal alumnus contacts. Five years ago, Dave launched an initiative to expand the reach of the course, building it into a novel, globally based platform that fosters long-term student and postdoc collaborations. This strategy has created a multidisciplinary network of dispersed but highly motivated early-career researchers capable of tackling the difficult tasks of Earth system forecasting and climate impact assessment.

Dave’s dedication to Fluxcourse is catalyzing a major transformation in the way we participate in international education and collaboration in our field. Scientists now collect and store more ecological observations than ever before, spurring a need for new analytical approaches built upon open data and collaboration that use empirical, statistical, and process-based modeling approaches. Fluxcourse fills a critical training and pedagogical need in model-data fusion that supports analysis at policy- and management-relevant scales and fosters the development of cross-discipline alliances that span career stages and expertise. Dave Moore’s impact will be felt in our community for generations to come.

—Ankur R. Desai, University of Wisconsin–Madison; Margaret S. Torn, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Berkeley, Calif.; and Kimberley A. Novick, Indiana University Bloomington


I would like to thank AGU and my colleagues who nominated me. This is an honor for me and for those who have made the Fluxcourse a success over the past 12 years.

As an ecologist, I have witnessed profound change in how we create new knowledge. Contemporary ecological challenges extend beyond any one individual’s expertise. Advances in data collection offer unprecedented opportunities to meet these challenges, and this has been mirrored by advances in mathematical modeling and analytic techniques. Combining models and data help us ask clearer questions, collect more useful data, and design more skillful models. Whether your science is rooted in observation or focused on analytical models, a great deal of knowledge, skill, and dedication is required to succeed. However, effective communication between observationalists and modelers is challenging, and specialization can lead to the isolation of the two communities to the detriment of both. Each has evolved barriers in the form of their own languages, norms, and approaches—the Fluxcourse seeks to break these down.

Attendees work through the scientific and logistical issues of making measurements and the conceptualization and execution of mathematical models. We learn the benefits and shortcomings of different approaches and try to build a community of practice that emphasizes dedication to expertise and the willingness to collaborate.

There are many people to thank: Russ Monson and Dave Schimel for pulling me into this enterprise; Kim Novick and Betsy Cowdery, who maintain my faith in it; and Ray Leuning, who continues to inspire. The course is a coalition of the willing, and it succeeds because it has strong community support. Early-career scientists come from all over the world to learn, and instructors come from academia, research networks, and industry to help attendees learn and develop as scientists in a beautiful setting provided by the University of Colorado’s Mountain Research Station. Instructors are all volunteers, some from the beginning, some whenever they could, others are eager to pitch in now—we could not run the course without their generosity. It is a delight to wander the halls of AGU and see the course alumni as they advance in their career. Fluxcourse was just one nudge along their scientific paths, but their assertion that it was formative and their willingness to return as course instructors tell me and our team that we should keep going.

—David Moore, University of Arizona

Mark A. Chandler received the Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held 12 December 2018 in Washington, D. C. The award honors a team, individual, or group “for a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education.”



It gives me great pleasure to cite Mark Chandler for the Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award. Mark’s dedication to ensuring that students have the tools to effectively learn about the Earth system can be seen in the development history of the Educational Global Climate Model (EdGCM). Mark’s inspiration for creating EdGCM came from working at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies with summer institute students who wanted to run climate model experiments themselves, despite not always having access to NASA’s programmers and supercomputers. Mark wanted something that would give students hands-on experience with a global climate model and also teach them the steps of the scientific process that climate modelers follow in conducting their research. Moreover, he believed that this would help demystify the role of modeling in climate science at a time when skepticism of complex models was growing, something that has important ramifications for a public needing to make and understand policy decisions aimed at mitigating climate change.

Mark began work on the project with some talented high school students in the mid-1990s but received initial funding in 2003, when the National Science Foundation’s Paleoclimate Program saw the potential impact of the idea. NASA’s High-Performance Computing Program followed, and EdGCM was released publicly in January 2005. To keep EdGCM sustainable, the project partially transitioned to a license-based distribution system, a necessity when NASA’s Global Climate Change Education Program funded nine projects that all planned to use EdGCM.

While enthusiasm for EdGCM grew, feedback from high school teachers indicated that it remained too difficult to manage, especially given classroom time constraints and the proliferation of tablets and Chromebooks. Mark responded with a browser-based tool called EzGCM for the K–12 community, which is now in use by the American Museum of Natural History and is being piloted in Lincoln, Neb., public schools, together with a curriculum developed with the University of Nebraska.

There have been >40,000 downloads of EdGCM and so far over 3,000 users of EzGCM. The software has seen use on seven continents and at nearly 200 institutions, covering subjects that include atmospheric science, climate change and impacts, environmental science, engineering, geography, and physics. Mark has personally given over 100 presentations and workshops since 2000.

For his unwavering dedication to the development and support of EdGCM and its effective use in teaching secondary and postsecondary students, Mark Chandler clearly deserves the AGU Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award.

—Tamara Shapiro Ledley, Independent STEM Education Consultant, Earth and Climate Scientist, Needham, Mass.


I am honored to receive the 2018 Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award. It gives me special satisfaction to accept the award for the team of the Educational Global Climate Model (EdGCM) project. There are few scientific endeavors that take a more sustained team effort than developing a GCM, and the fact that EdGCM exists at all is a testament to the talented scientists and programmers at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. They have had open doors and given invaluable advice, and I’m immensely grateful. My other team, who spent 7 years developing EdGCM, consisted almost exclusively of high schoolers and undergraduates who were hardworking, creative, excited just to be at NASA, and like most youth, adept at doing things others said shouldn’t be done. While part of me is amazed that EdGCM even exists and is used by so many, I think my students knew then that teachers needed such tools to engage and convince their own emerging skeptical generation. In 2018, when skepticism seems to be rising faster than atmospheric CO2 levels, the need for educational support of authentic classroom research has become an imperative. And if climate scientists will create great modeling tools that not just work for researchers but also allow students to participate in the process, I’m certain we won’t spend so much time trying to convince people of the efficacy or urgency of our findings. In 1996, climate scientist David Randall wrote, “GCMs will begin running on workstations in high schools, and possibly elementary schools. They may even be running in the offices of congressmen.” I believed him then (he’s an AGU Fellow, after all), but I just didn’t realize I’d still be trying to make it happen 22 years later. I wish we’d made more progress, but the next 22 years look promising.

I thank NASA and the National Science Foundation for supporting EdGCM, the concept behind it, and the people who use it. I thank my dedicated team (all two of them) who work hard to support EdGCM’s users. Finally, I thank all educators who take on the role of teaching climate science and using climate models despite the obstacles placed by administrators, politicians, budget cuts, and bugs in EdGCM. I hope that together we will provide even better learning experiences under the Next Generation Science Standards and give next-generation science students the tools and opportunities they deserve to solve the problems we have bequeathed to them.

—Mark A. Chandler, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Columbia University, New York

Thure Cerling and James Ehleringer received the 2017 Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 13 December 2017 in New Orleans, La. The award honors “a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.



We are honored to cite Thure E. Cerling and James R. Ehleringer for empowering generations of students with a rich and interdisciplinary understanding of stable isotope techniques and their applications. Stable isotope data span the Earth system and provide unique and quantitative windows to biological and geochemical processes. As -world--renowned scientists, Cerling and Ehleringer pioneered isotope studies and made them invaluable to biogeochemistry, ecology and paleoecology, forensics, and the climate sciences. Yet even as these fields expanded rapidly in the 1990s, Cerling and Ehleringer recognized that stable isotope biogeoscience was not open to all. Students at many smaller or foreign universities lacked access to expertise, training, and analytical resources. They also recognized that students from different disciplines had much to learn from each other. Therefore, they brought students together with top isotope scientists from many fields for an intensive course on isotope theory, analysis, and interdisciplinary applications. They created networks of collaborations and friendships among scientifically, culturally, and internationally diverse young scientists, who have gone on to become leaders in a wide range of the geophysical sciences.

Thure Cerling and Jim Ehleringer are the intellectual, inspirational, and organizational forces behind a -hands--on, intensive, -2-week summer course offered annually since 1996. “Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry and Ecology” (affectionately known as IsoCamp) has trained more than 750 students from over 250 institutions in 37 countries across a multitude of scientific disciplines. The 2 weeks of IsoCamp include morning lectures from leading scholars on foundation principles, theory and process, and applications of stable isotope analyses. Students spend each afternoon in the field or in the isotope laboratory, where they are exposed to real-life problems, make their own isotope measurements, and participate in team-based projects. IsoCamp gives students both the fundamental knowledge needed to understand isotopic variations and the confidence to present interpretations of the results to their peers. Students advance rapidly from tentative newcomers, fueled by lectures, discussions, and growing experience in the field and lab. By the second week, students have gained the ability to envision their own projects and decide how best to apply an arsenal of available isotope methods and have built a lasting esprit de corps as they scramble to complete their projects before presentation.

Thure Cerling and James Ehleringer have created a transformative learning and networking experience for multiple academic generations of researchers and established the archetypical model of a successful summer short course for colleagues around the country.

—Brian N. Popp, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu; and Katherine H. Freeman, Pennsylvania State University, University Park


We are very honored to accept the Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award for 2017. It is a privilege to join others before us who have received this award.

We first began offering Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry and Ecology (-IsoCamp) as -2-week summer lecture and laboratory short courses in 1996. At that time, we did not anticipate that today we would still be offering -IsoCamp, a team-taught multidisciplinary effort attracting students from across the nation and around the world! Given the benefit of time, it has been rewarding to follow the careers of students as they develop into researchers and leaders. We would like to believe that -IsoCamp contributed to their successes.

Our vision was to offer lectures and -hands--on laboratory experiences that brought together students and faculty from the many disciplines that use isotopes to study the Earth, climate, and biological sciences—from anthropology to zoology and from paleoclimatology to oceanography. We could see through our own students and visitors to our respective labs that a broader perspective of science would better prepare them to engage in the dizzying variety of stable isotopes applications. Realizing that we two could not provide the breadth of training, we recruited colleagues from across the stable isotope community to help teach -IsoCamp. Each instructor has a passion for teaching and full engagement with students. Our acceptance of this award is also for these 20+ instructors who have contributed to teaching over the years—some are in the audience today. Thank you!

One of the great things about being in science is the training of new generations of scientists. We believe in -cross--disciplinary training, in providing opportunities for the next generation, and in ensuring participation of both underrepresented and international students. -IsoCamp gives students and faculty alike the opportunity for both social bonding and constructive science discussions, seeding long-term connections and collaborations. Every year this course establishes a network of 30 or so scientists who go forward in their respective careers having worked together to solve new problems and gain new skills.

We are thankful to the many students who have participated in -IsoCamp, to the many faculty and staff who have helped us offer this course. And we especially thank our families, who welcome dozens of young scientists into their lives for a few weeks each year. This could not have happened without the support of Edna and Mahala!

—Thure Cerling and James Ehleringer, University of Utah, Salt Lake City

Thure Cerling and James Ehleringer received the 2017 Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 13 December 2017 in New Orleans, La. The award honors “a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.



We are honored to cite Thure E. Cerling and James R. Ehleringer for empowering generations of students with a rich and interdisciplinary understanding of stable isotope techniques and their applications. Stable isotope data span the Earth system and provide unique and quantitative windows to biological and geochemical processes. As -world--renowned scientists, Cerling and Ehleringer pioneered isotope studies and made them invaluable to biogeochemistry, ecology and paleoecology, forensics, and the climate sciences. Yet even as these fields expanded rapidly in the 1990s, Cerling and Ehleringer recognized that stable isotope biogeoscience was not open to all. Students at many smaller or foreign universities lacked access to expertise, training, and analytical resources. They also recognized that students from different disciplines had much to learn from each other. Therefore, they brought students together with top isotope scientists from many fields for an intensive course on isotope theory, analysis, and interdisciplinary applications. They created networks of collaborations and friendships among scientifically, culturally, and internationally diverse young scientists, who have gone on to become leaders in a wide range of the geophysical sciences.

Thure Cerling and Jim Ehleringer are the intellectual, inspirational, and organizational forces behind a -hands--on, intensive, -2-week summer course offered annually since 1996. “Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry and Ecology” (affectionately known as IsoCamp) has trained more than 750 students from over 250 institutions in 37 countries across a multitude of scientific disciplines. The 2 weeks of IsoCamp include morning lectures from leading scholars on foundation principles, theory and process, and applications of stable isotope analyses. Students spend each afternoon in the field or in the isotope laboratory, where they are exposed to real-life problems, make their own isotope measurements, and participate in team-based projects. IsoCamp gives students both the fundamental knowledge needed to understand isotopic variations and the confidence to present interpretations of the results to their peers. Students advance rapidly from tentative newcomers, fueled by lectures, discussions, and growing experience in the field and lab. By the second week, students have gained the ability to envision their own projects and decide how best to apply an arsenal of available isotope methods and have built a lasting esprit de corps as they scramble to complete their projects before presentation.

Thure Cerling and James Ehleringer have created a transformative learning and networking experience for multiple academic generations of researchers and established the archetypical model of a successful summer short course for colleagues around the country.

—Brian N. Popp, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu; and Katherine H. Freeman, Pennsylvania State University, University Park


We are very honored to accept the Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award for 2017. It is a privilege to join others before us who have received this award.

We first began offering Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry and Ecology (-IsoCamp) as -2-week summer lecture and laboratory short courses in 1996. At that time, we did not anticipate that today we would still be offering -IsoCamp, a team-taught multidisciplinary effort attracting students from across the nation and around the world! Given the benefit of time, it has been rewarding to follow the careers of students as they develop into researchers and leaders. We would like to believe that -IsoCamp contributed to their successes.

Our vision was to offer lectures and -hands--on laboratory experiences that brought together students and faculty from the many disciplines that use isotopes to study the Earth, climate, and biological sciences—from anthropology to zoology and from paleoclimatology to oceanography. We could see through our own students and visitors to our respective labs that a broader perspective of science would better prepare them to engage in the dizzying variety of stable isotopes applications. Realizing that we two could not provide the breadth of training, we recruited colleagues from across the stable isotope community to help teach -IsoCamp. Each instructor has a passion for teaching and full engagement with students. Our acceptance of this award is also for these 20+ instructors who have contributed to teaching over the years—some are in the audience today. Thank you!

One of the great things about being in science is the training of new generations of scientists. We believe in -cross--disciplinary training, in providing opportunities for the next generation, and in ensuring participation of both underrepresented and international students. -IsoCamp gives students and faculty alike the opportunity for both social bonding and constructive science discussions, seeding long-term connections and collaborations. Every year this course establishes a network of 30 or so scientists who go forward in their respective careers having worked together to solve new problems and gain new skills.

We are thankful to the many students who have participated in -IsoCamp, to the many faculty and staff who have helped us offer this course. And we especially thank our families, who welcome dozens of young scientists into their lives for a few weeks each year. This could not have happened without the support of Edna and Mahala!

—Thure Cerling and James Ehleringer, University of Utah, Salt Lake City

Ashanti Johnson received the 2016 Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 14 December 2016 in San Francisco, Calif. The award honors “a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.”



Over the past 15 years, Ashanti has worked tirelessly to bridge the inherent gaps that exist for groups historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields through developing successful programs such as the Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success in Earth System Science (MS PHD’S®), the Classroom and Community Engagement and Mentoring Program, and the new ­MS PHD’S-GEO Research Experience for Undergraduates Professional Development Program. All three programs were born out of the critical need for professional development, research, and networking opportunities for underrepresented minority students, and they have effectively catalyzed an ever growing community of support and encouragement that was previously lacking for nonmajority students in STEM.

During her service in these noteworthy roles, Ashanti has been a stalwart advocate for supporting underrepresented youth who reflect talent in STEM professions, especially in the geosciences. She has been a stellar role model, continuing her research in marine science while pursuing the professional development of students and building diversity initiatives in STEM through the integration of research and education.

Ashanti also served as the president of the Institute for Broadening Participation (IBP), which has the mission of increasing diversity in the STEM workforce. IBP Pathways to Science has worked to help talented, underrepresented people at many different levels—K–12 education, higher ­education/­college, and professional—find suitable STEM programs, funding, mentors, and other resources.

Ashanti has also made significant contributions to broadening participation for hundreds of (diverse) young scientists. Ashanti has served as assistant vice provost for faculty recruitment for the University of Texas at Arlington’s Division of Faculty, extending her support of diversity yet another step forward in the ranks of geoscience faculty.

Ashanti is the current CEO and superintendent of Cirrus Academy Charter School, which uses an integrated, hands-on curriculum based on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) for kindergarten through twelfth grade. As the CEO, her goal is to ensure that every student has access to the tools needed to exceed world-class standards and to compete for college admissions and jobs in an increasingly globalized economy.

Ashanti’s outstanding educational contributions and sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education and advancing groups historically underrepresented in STEM to serve the geophysical profession and society make her an excellent recipient of this award.

—Melanie Harrison Okoro, NOAA Fisheries, Sacramento, Calif.


First, I would like to thank Dr. Melanie Harrison Okoro for her kind and thoughtful words. I am truly honored to receive the 2016 AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Award.

After taking a moment to reflect on my past educational experiences and activities, I am extremely grateful for opportunities and resources to assist so many talented and committed geoscience students and young professionals from underserved and underrepresented minority (URM) populations.

In 1993, I became the first African American to receive a marine science B.S. degree from Texas A&M University at Galveston. Six years later, I became the first African American to receive a doctoral degree in chemical oceanography from Texas A&M.

While some who learn of these achievements may immediately celebrate, others might ponder what I experienced on the road to receiving these recognitions. I quickly recall the fact that the last time I attended a class with another African American student or was taught by an African American was in high school. In third grade I decided to pursue an oceanography career. As a student in talented and gifted programs in Dallas, Texas, public schools from the third to the twelfth grade, I conducted annual ocean science research projects. It was not until twelfth grade that I learned of Dr. Ernest Everett Just, an African American marine scientist who died in 1941. Despite the absence of contemporary African American role models, I was determined to make positive contributions to the geosciences.

It was my grandmother, Clemateen Williamson; my mother, Dr. Vivian Williamson Whitney; and my father, Don Johnson, who instilled in me the belief that I was capable of achieving my goals and was responsible for helping others to do likewise. This belief and sense of responsibility remain and influence my actions in each URM mentoring, professional development, and funding program that I participate in, coordinate, and/or direct.

In reflecting on the many accomplishments of the amazing URM geoscience students with whom I have interacted, I am excited to report that with sustained ­community-­supported efforts, we are now poised to be able to celebrate URM geoscience students who, instead of being “firsts,” are achieving their goals in substantial numbers.

In accepting this award, I celebrate our community’s efforts to facilitate increased diversity and the accomplishments of young geoscientists from underserved and underrepresented populations.

—Ashanti Johnson, Mercer University and Cirrus Academy Charter School, Macon, Ga.

Heather Macdonald received the 2014 Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 17 December 2014 in San Francisco, Calif. The award honors “a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.”



It is my pleasure to cite Dr. R. Heather Macdonald for her sustained leadership in the transformation of geoscience education during the past 2 decades. Heather’s blend of steadfast vision and selfless dedication to advance geoscience education through supporting faculty is illustrated by three programs: On the Cutting Edge, a national professional development program for geoscience faculty; the Supporting and Advancing Geoscience Education in Two-Year Colleges (SAGE 2YC) project; and the Building Strong Geoscience Departments initiative. Notable characteristics imparted to each of these by Heather are that they incorporate ideas from facilitators and participants collaboratively, build through a continuous cycle of improvement to create a sustained program that evolves with participant needs, and develop a leadership cohort eager to carry the successful initiative into the future.

Heather developed the annual On the Cutting Edge Workshop for Early Career Geoscience Faculty, which focuses on teaching, research, and career management. Review comments indicate that it transforms many participants’ approach to teaching. Another measure of success is that past participants recommend it to their peers and their students and welcome the opportunity to become a facilitator. More than 600 early–career faculty from all types of academic institutions (undergraduate and graduate, 2 year and 4 year, public and private) have participated in the workshop since its inception. The impact is multiplied through its reach to additional faculty through materials on the Cutting Edge website. Heather developed a parallel workshop titled Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences for graduate students and postdocs.

More than a decade ago, Heather identified 2-year colleges, which currently enroll nearly half of undergraduate students, as institutions critical to the education of future geoscientists. Her efforts have contributed to programs to build leadership in the 2-year college geoscience education community through the SAGE 2YC project. She contributed to creating the Building Strong Geoscience Departments program that supports the sharing of best practices, lessons learned, and expertise for faculty and department chairs. The latter program is now a part of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) portfolio, with an associated website and listserv.

Heather has led development of 11 collaborative National Science Foundation grants to garner the support necessary to achieve the vision. She has served the community tirelessly through membership in significant committees for AGU, the American Geosciences Institute, and the National Research Council and as a past NAGT president. There is no one more deserving of the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award than Heather Macdonald.

—Richelle M. Allen-King, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo


I am honored to be the recipient of the 2014 AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Award. My involvement with AGU began in 1994 with a talk at the first education session at an AGU meeting. In the following 2 decades, geoscience education has grown dramatically, and I’m proud to be part of a vibrant geoscience education community.

Collaboration has been a key element in my career. Many creative and inspiring colleagues have helped shape my work in geoscience education. I thank my colleagues at the College of William and Mary, in the geology department and across campus—from marine science to education, from biology to modern languages and linguistics and writing. You have taught me much about teaching in and beyond the classroom, working effectively with research students, and building departments and programs to be places of opportunities for students and faculty alike. I thank my geoscience education colleagues across the country, including the leaders of On the Cutting Edge and Building Strong Geoscience Departments, all of the workshop leaders and participants from those programs, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) Web team and staff, and so many more. We have helped establish a culture of information and resource sharing that supports continuous improvement in geoscience education.

Some highlights. It is a pleasure to reflect on the Early Career Geoscience Faculty workshop, its evolution through time, and its positive impact on successive generations of participants. The leaders of each workshop have contributed to the success of this series. I am particularly grateful to Richelle Allen-King, Rachel Beane, Randy Richardson, and Richard Yuretich for their innovative ideas, attention to detail, and wise counsel over many years. Another highlight has been participating in the emergence of the 2-year college geoscience community. I’ve learned much from my Supporting and Advancing Geoscience Education in Two-Year Colleges (SAGE 2YC) colleagues Eric Baer, Bob Blodgett, and Jan Hodder and from Katryn Wiese and so many other 2YC colleagues. I thank David McConnell for sharing his geoscience education research expertise with me and my students. I especially thank my long-time colleagues Cathy Manduca, David Mogk, and Barb Tewksbury for their creativity, generosity, collaboration, and friendship.

As our community continues to grow, I am excited to see the new collaborations that will form and the resulting advances in geoscience education research and practice. Thanks to all of my colleagues and to the geoscience education community for their many contributions and to AGU for this honor.

—Heather Macdonald, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va.

Tamara Shapiro Ledley received the 2013 Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 11 December 2013 in San Francisco, Calif. The award honors “a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.”



It gives me great pleasure to cite Tamara Shapiro Ledley for the AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Award “for her outstanding sustained leadership in Earth systems and climate change education.” Tamara has shown an ongoing commitment to bridging the scientific and educational communities to make geophysical science knowledge and data accessible and usable to teachers and students and by extension to all citizens. She works extensively with both the scientific and educational communities. She began her educational work in 1990 as the leader for weather and climate in my Teacher Research program at Rice University. She continued as the lead for atmospheric sciences in our projects Earth Today and Museums Teaching Planet Earth, which introduced her to the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP Federation). She has served many roles at ESIP, including creating the Standing Committee for Education and serving as vice president. ESIP recognized her many accomplishments with its President’s Award in 2012. At TERC her education and outreach efforts have blossomed. She was the lead author of the “Earth as a System” investigation of the GLOBE Teacher’s Guide. She was a member of the original Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) Data Access Working Group in 2001, where the idea for a cookbook-like resource to facilitate the use of Earth science data by teachers and students resulted in her leading the development of the “Earth Exploration Toolbook” (EET), which allows teachers to easily access and use real scientific data in the classroom. Her efforts were recognized with the EET being awarded Science Magazine’s Science Prize for Online Research in Education in 2011.

She has also been on the forefront of climate change education, serving on the AGU Committee for Global and Environmental Change, of which she was a member from its inception in 1993 through 1999 and chaired from 1995 to 1999. She chaired the panel to draft the initial AGU Position Statement on Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases, adopted in 1998, and was the lead author of a paper in Eos providing the supporting scientific information for that position statement at the level of the scientifically literate individual. Tamara is principal investigator of the National Science Foundation/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)/Department of Energy funded Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) project, which has created a rigorously reviewed collection of educational resources for grades 6–16 that facilitate students, teachers, and citizens becoming climate and energy literate. The CLEAN Collection has now been syndicated to NOAA’s Climate.gov portal. She also chairs the CLEAN Network (formerly the Climate Literacy Network), a professional diverse group of climate literacy stakeholders’ and has coordinated the many “Climate Literacy” sessions at the AGU Fall Meetings since 2011.

She has chaired pathbreaking committees, created online resources, published in AGU journals, and created major educational programs and is now serving as chair of the Center for Science Teaching and Learning at TERC. She has reached hundreds of teachers in person and more than 200,000 unique, returning visitors to her EET, EarthLabs, and CLEAN websites. It is clear that she clearly deserves this Excellence in Geophysical Education award.

—PATRICIA REIFF, Rice University, Houston, Texas


The meaning of “interdisciplinary” has evolved over my career. When I started my science research career, it meant bridging atmospheric and ocean science and embracing the science of the Earth system and its interacting components. Thus, I found a home at AGU submitting science abstracts to atmospheric science, oceanography, or hydrology sessions. In fact, my first research paper appeared in Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR)-Atmospheres, and a letter to the editor and response appeared in JGR-Oceans. It also meant getting scientists in these disciplines talking to each other. I organized a seminar series at Rice University under the umbrella of an Earth Systems Institute that included the Departments of Space Physics and Astronomy, Geology and Geophysics, Biology, and Hydrology. I also began working with Dr. Patricia Reiff, a space physicist with a passion for science education.

I worked with Pat on many science education projects. One demonstrating the interdisciplinary nature of science education was a teacher professional development program featuring the Sun. We covered disciplines ranging from the Sun as a star, as part of the solar system, to its roles in shaping weather and climate and in providing energy and shaping natural resources. I am forever grateful to Pat for involving me in science education.

On joining TERC, I began my own science education efforts focusing on bridging the science and educational communities. In this context, “interdisciplinary” broadened to include scientists, technologists, and educators collaborating to improve student learning. I thank Dan Barstow, Harold McWilliams, Mike Taber, Ben Domenico, LuAnn Dahlman, Susan Lynds, Carol Meyer, and the dedicated communities within and beyond Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE), Digital Library for Earth System Education, National STEM Digital Library, and the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners for their collaboration in these efforts.

Through my work in climate and energy literacy, “interdisciplinary” has expanded to mean “interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary.” The social implications and impacts of climate change demand moving beyond Earth system components and scientist/educator collaborations. Climate and energy literacy is important for a broader range of professions like urban planners, architects, psychologists, economists, and government policy makers, making my work transdisciplinary. I now embrace this interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary nature by facilitating communication among stakeholders to share and leverage resources, information, and communities. I thank Mark McCaffrey, Frank Niepold, Anne Gold, Cathy Manduca, Sean Fox, Scott Carley, Don Duggan-Haas, Marian Grogan, Nick Haddad, Jeff Lockwood, Candace Dunlap, Susan Sullivan, Karen McNeal, Kathy Ellins, Julie Libarkin, Juliette Rooney­Varga, Sarah Hill, the CLEAN Network, and TERC for their support.

The arc of my career from interdisciplinary Earth system science to the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary nature of climate change reflects the growing importance of climate literacy. I appreciate AGU’s recognition of this through the high visibility of climate literacy at this meeting and in conveying this award. I also thank my family; my daughters, Miriam and Johanna; and my husband, Fred Ledley, whose interest, encouragement, support, and love have enabled me to achieve this honor. I deeply appreciate being recognized by the American Geophysical Union with the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award.


Michelle Kathleen Hall received the 2012 Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 5 December 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. The award honors “a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.”



It is a pleasure and an honor to present Michelle Hall as the 2012 recipient of the AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Award in recognition of her service to our community in advancing geophysical education across its full spectrum. It is particularly satisfying to see Michelle receive this AGU award because in 1994 she co-organized the very first education session held at an AGU meeting.

Michelle is a geophysicist whose transition to geoscience education began with her organizing an Arizona hub of what became the Educational Seismology Network. The program aimed to put simple seismometers in classrooms, network them via regional hubs across the country, and support analysis of the data they would collect via inquiry-based curricula. This was pioneering work in what has become accepted wisdom, that effective geoscience education must entail authentic inquiry, driven by manipulation and analysis of data, thus fostering the integration of research and education.

She put together a team that produced rigorous Geographic Information System-based curricula for introductory Earth science courses at the college level that supports authentic inquiry experiences and allows everyone to learn the technology while solving an interesting geoscience problem.

Michelle led a team that developed undergraduate level in-depth case studies of a variety of natural catastrophes that include the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the potential for a great earthquake and tsunami in Cascadia, the great 2004 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami, and the potential impact of a similar event in coastal Oregon and Seattle.

She was a key contributor to initiating the IRIS Education and Outreach program and then developing its program plan. Much of her role in the early years was teaching her peers about effective ways to engage the public and K-12 educators and developing resources to support those efforts. Later, as chair of the EarthScope E&O Steering Committee, she led the development of the EarthScope Education and Outreach plan.

Michelle has been running a very successful Cafe Scientifque program for high school teens in four highly diverse towns in northern New Mexico. Teens say that they increasingly see the relevance of science; can put the science they learn in school within a more relevant context; discovered that scientists are interesting people having interesting lives in science; and have gained interest in science careers. A large cadre of scientist presenters have now been trained to share the fruits of their science with the public.

She has regularly brought her critical analysis skills to geoscience researchers seeking to develop broad-reaching education and outreach programs. These programs have fostered major collaborations that have increased the national prominence of the geosciences. She has been a mentor and role model to many students at all levels, providing them with their own critical analysis, as well as technical skills.

Through significant and sustained contributions to geophysical education throughout her career, Michelle Hall has demonstrated fully all the attributes that are sought in the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award. She is a credit to the American Geophysical Union and to the profession.

–Michael Mayhew, Synoptic LLC, Ocean City, Maryland


I am very grateful to the AGU for this honor and for the many wonderful colleagues and students I have been blessed to work with other the years. Without them, this award would not have been possible.

We are bombarded daily with news that youth are not interested in or prepared to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in the U.S. Most stories about educational success focus on an individual classroom or school, while large-scale reform and impact seems to elude our nation. We are still looking for the silver bullet—the no-fail solution—to raise our children’s desire and ability to learn.

The majority of AGU members engage with young people towards the end of their formal education and may feel that there isn’t a lot they can do to change this scenario. However, nearly half of all students who start college in a STEM major drop out of the discipline by the end of their second year. The reasons are varied; some are unprepared, others become disillusioned when their classes seem to have no relevance to what they thought was an exciting field of study, others have felt they did not “fit the mold”. This is a tremendous loss of time and talent— a missed opportunity—because each of these reasons can be easily addressed, if there is the will.

For many years, I have asked when and why people first identified themselves as a scientist. In every case, the scientists could point to key individuals who saw their potential and nurtured it, often when they did not see it themselves. This was certainly true for me. Scientists could point to an instructor who gave small and timely praise that helped them persevere in areas that were challenging, or a teacher who listened and offered probing questions to help them wrestle with and master a complex concept. Oh, the exhilarating feeling we have all had when that “ah ha!” moment occurs! It can sustain months of slogging through our daily work until the next time.

I imagine that we have all been under-prepared for the challenges we have faced in our careers, and have all struggled with our self-esteem when work feels like hard slogging with no progress, and have all wondered if we “fit the mold,” whatever that mold may be. And, while we had to reach deep inside ourselves to push onward, there was often a helping hand or encouraging word to pull us through.

With only 2–3% of the U.S. population being STEM professionals, each of us can make a huge impact by being that person who recognizes a kernel of talent in a young person and nourishes it. Mentoring others has been a priority for me and has enriched my life. I urge you to take the time to listen to your students’ stories, and to look for and nurture their talent. Help them find their own pathway to success in STEM, which may be very different than yours. One scientist…one student…two lives changed.

–Michelle Kathleen Hall, Science Education Solutions, Los Alamos, New Mexico

Carlo E. Laj received the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 7 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award honors “a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.”



It is with great pleasure that I introduce Carlo Laj for the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award. Carlo is an outstanding leader in the globalization of education. He has a passion for making education an international experience. Long before Carlo became involved with education, he had established himself as a global leader for research in geomagnetism and paleomagnetism, for which he received recognition and became an AGU Fellow. He has been a force in exploring important developments in the history of geomagnetism. It was this fascination for trying to understand how the Earth works and its history, along with his passion for trying to share his knowledge, that caused him to become an incredible proponent of geophysical education. He recognized the need for a public that was well educated in science in order to make wise choices. What better way to inform great numbers of people than to educate the teachers? I believe the seeds were planted for Carlo to recognize the importance of international education with his experience as an exchange student from Italy spending time in an American high school in Winnetka, Ill. Not only could he get many people informed about geophysical education, but he could also use the entire world as a base from which to draw the teachers he was going to educate!

And so it was that with his creativity in approaches to achieving this goal, he established programs to strengthen the preparation of secondary Earth science teachers. Carlo persuaded the newly organized European Geosciences Union (EGU) to establish a committee on education. He recruited government and private sponsors to provide financial support for the travel expenses of about 80 teachers from Europe to attend a workshop—Geosciences Information For Teachers, or GIFT—at EGU. The challenges of a multicultural, multilanguage audience were not only met but were also built on so that these European GIFTs now include not only teachers from Europe but also teachers from China, Mexico, the United States, Canada, and Japan. These highly successful workshops offer high-quality resources, not only to the teachers in attendance (now numbering more than 700) but also to teachers globally, because much of the information presented at the workshops is readily available on the GIFT Web site. Carlo’s development of the education program within the European community is the reason that it exists today.

It is very clear that Carlo has been the keystone for creating an international perspective in education and, as such, expanding public understanding of geophysics and how scientists think and work. His work with teachers from high schools across Europe and in the United States in a “Teachers at Sea” program has established this experience as a unique opportunity for teachers to be exposed to oceanographic research while on European research vessels. His organization of the European GIFT workshops since their inception at EGU is influencing thousands of students. His influence is truly international. He is most deserving of this award.

—Stephen Macko, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville


Thank you, Steve, for your efforts in nominating me for this award and for your citation, so flattering that I hardly recognize myself. I am very happy and proud to receive this award, but not for one second do I forget the many people who have contributed to my being here today.

You are very right in saying that it was during my year at New Trier High School in Winnetka, when I was a 16-year-old exchange student from Italy, that the seeds were planted for me to recognize the importance of international education. Thanks to two wonderful people, my physics teacher Mr. Bailey and my adviser Mr. Harper, I was introduced to the beauty of science, because until then I was more attracted to literary studies. Since then, I know that a high school teacher can really change the life of a student, and I later realized how important it is to give teachers every opportunity to keep up with the most recent developments in science. Needless to say, I also think of all the other people who have been so important in my educational career. When I walked into an AGU Geosciences Information For Teachers (GIFT) workshop here in San Francisco, Judy Scotchmoor was the “spark” that compelled me to start organizing the European Geosciences Union (EGU) workshops for teachers (this experience also permanently transformed me into a trilobite). Jill Karsten welcomed me into the AGU Committee on Education and Human Resources, where I served three most exciting terms and met many ­people—­it is impossible to list all of them in this short response—who have so greatly influenced my participation in improving science education.

At EGU, both André Berger and Arne Richter have helped me immensely in establishing the EGU Committee on Education and have always shown their full support throughout these many years.

Most of all, I wish to dedicate this award to my colleagues from the EGU Committee on Education, two of whom are present in the audience. I have been very lucky to have this devoted group with me in these wonderful 10 years of activity. They have sometimes shared my own enthusiasm and ideas, more often shared their enthusiasm and ideas with me. They have been the real builders of the stairway upon which teachers have climbed to meet fellow teachers from other countries, to assimilate different teaching approaches, and to develop international collaborations among teachers.

From my perspective, the seeds planted at New Trier took a long time to blossom. But looking back, I believe this blossoming has been one of the most important aspects of my professional and nonprofessional life. If I can draw a conclusion, it would be to encourage my fellow scientists to spread their science to teachers and to the general public. It is a most rewarding and useful action for a scientist!

—Carlo Laj, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, CEA/CNRS/UVSQ, Gif-sur-Yvette, France

Donald Johnson received the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the 2010 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. The award honors “a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.”



We honor Donald R. Johnson for his lifelong quest for understanding and his passion for sharing an Earth system science perspective with faculty and students. Earth system science education has had a profound impact on interdisciplinary understanding of the Earth at all levels, and Don’s contributions have helped to make Earth system science an important part of the undergraduate curriculum at many institutions.

Don’s career as an educator spans more than 50 years. His love for learning and his high regard for education each extend to his youth. With dual undergraduate majors in mathematics and chemistry followed by active duty as an Air Force meteorologist, Don received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He remained as a faculty member in the Department of Meteorology and the Space Science and Engineering Center as both emerged to international prominence, and he supervised 45 master’s and 24 doctoral candidates.

In the early 1980s, Don worked with colleagues in Madison to develop the first video-based satellite meteorology learning modules. Don recognized the need to overcome and bridge disciplinary boundaries for gaining full understanding of the Earth system. In 1991 he set forth a strategy for a collaborative interdisciplinary education program among colleges and universities, seeking to engage faculty from different disciplines to develop the next generation of Earth system scientists, partnering with colleagues at NASA, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Universities Space Research Association. The interdisciplinary focus was to educate students to more fully appreciate the coming wealth of NASA’s Earth Observing System data, thus ensuring understanding and applications to the challenge of viewing the Earth as a system. Known as ESSE, the Cooperative University-based Program for Earth System Science Education, and later ESSE 21, the programs led a nationwide collaborative effort in creating and offering Earth system science courses for the undergraduate classroom and laboratory, and also like efforts among universities of the Americas within the formative years of the Inter-American Institute. From 1993 to 2008 the programs enabled 63 college and university teams to develop over 130 courses, as well as curricula, learning resources, and degree programs in Earth system science within this country. ESSE courses have reached well over 100,000 undergraduate students, and most of the courses continue to be taught today in one form or another. Don’s early leadership in Earth system science education helped set the tone and context for the growth and development of this interdisciplinary thrust, which is today a respected foundation of the NASA and NSF research programs.

Don is also a mentor to many professional colleagues. He never fails to take an opportunity to widen his circle with new colleagues, friends, and ideas. He takes to heart his commitment to a solid understanding of the disciplinary fundamentals of mathematics, physics, and chemistry as a foundation for broader interdisciplinary understanding. He is a master at turning conversation into a learning opportunity. Don’s quiet and thoughtful leadership has had an enormous impact on those around him. His approach sets the bar for academic rigor and interdisciplinary inclusion as a true example of collegial collaboration, always keeping in mind the ultimate benefits to the student.

It has been an honor to work with Don and a privilege to help carry his vision to the next generation of Earth system-aware scientists and citizens. On behalf of ESSE colleagues and members of the Earth system science community, I offer congratulations to Don Johnson as this year’s recipient of the AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Award.

—Martin Ruzek, Universities Space Research Association, Whitelaw, Wis.


In receiving this award, we all recognize that the exceptional faculty involved in the ESSE program are the deserving recipients. My response is to document why all involved deserve to be recognized. These are the creative individuals who joined with faculty from other disciplines within their own institutions to offer introductory and senior-level courses that present an in-depth perspective of Earth system science.

NASA’s focus on Earth system science as expressed in its presentation document, “Earth system science: A closer view,” emerged following the Global Weather Experiment (GWE) effort to observe and model global atmospheric circulation. Here the improved specification of the global state utilizing Four Dimensional Data Assimilation (4DDA) and numerical models to simulate process led to remarkable advances in medium-range forecast accuracy and to unusual advances in scientific understanding of atmospheric/oceanic circulation including the relevance of the biosphere and lithosphere. The assimilated global data sets now routinely serve to validate models in advancing understanding of climate change globally and regionally. Clearly, specification of state for scientific purposes and societal applications that emerged served as a forerunner for the world’s global change initiative. While the objective to advance accuracy in observing and simulating global circulation is relatively focused, the results obtained from GWE initiated and provided for interdisciplinary focus in the classrooms of ESSE faculty. Clearly, faculty who joined in this effort considered that the Earth system constituted a model for teaching science in the classroom.

Figure 1, created by ESSE participants at an initial workshop, portrays their vision of the multitude of scientific disciplines intrinsic to Earth system science. Within this schematic, ESSE faculty provided for a learning of science that focused on many different segments of society. All are interwoven under an umbrella, with decision making/action and global destiny at the pinnacle of the triangle.

A guiding principle of ESSE involves three inseparable elements in the presentation and learning of science: state, process, and understanding. Implied within this combination is a framework that intrinsically interrelates all three as essential to an appreciation of the importance of interdisciplinary dimensions within Earth system science. Student interest and motivation are at the heart of learning and advancing a student’s intellectual capacity. Interest as a requisite to motivation is the secret to the continuing pursuit of knowledge essential for lifetime success. Let us readily admit that with respect to Earth system science, interdisciplinary breadth, and societal relevance, all of us will be lifetime students. There will always be unanswered questions, challenges to address, and something to learn.

Please understand that the ESSE program was a collaborative effort among faculty, teaching assistants, and students and that all deserve to be recognized. On behalf of all, I thank AGU for this recognition and NASA, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and the Universities Space Research Association for their support.

—Donald R. Johnson, Emeritus Professor, Department of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences and Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Kim Anne Kastens received the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the Joint Assembly, held 26 May 2009 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The award honors “a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.”



We honor Kim Anne Kastens this year for pioneering work educating journalists about the geosciences; for playing a foundational role in establishing geoscience learning as a field of research; and for her work with teachers and teaching materials to improve geoscience education.

Kim began her work in geoscience education a little more than 15 years ago, a time when widespread interest in education among geoscientists was just around the corner. We understood the importance of our public face and were working hard within our professional societies to improve the ability of geoscientists to talk to the media. In a move that demonstrates her characteristic blend of creativity and practical insight, Kim imagined how we could use courses for journalists to improve this communication. In collaboration with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she established a program in Earth and environmental sciences journalism that complements our efforts to learn to talk to the public, by preparing journalists to be ready to talk to us. Graduates of this program can be found writing for such publications as Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Earth (formerly Geotimes), Audubon Magazine, Caijing magazine in China, Scientific American, and even our own Eos.

Kim was a marine geologist for 15 years before she was a geoscience educator. It should be no surprise that with this background, as she turned her attention to education she started to explore scientifically the challenges that students face in learning geoscience, particularly in visualizing geoscience features and data. This approach led her into collaborations with cognitive scientists. She was one of the first people in our community to understand the relevance of cognitive science research to geoscience education and the need for research into those aspects of learning that are particularly important in geoscience. Bringing together her understanding of the nature of geoscience thinking and their understanding of the workings of the mind, she and her collaborators took on questions such as how children learn to read and interpret maps, how climate forecast maps are understood by policy makers (and the misconceptions that arise), and how experts (geoscientists) and novices (students) visualize geologic structures.

Recognizing the value of this research and the importance of its results, Kim worked hard to encourage others to engage in this type of work. She has participated extensively in workshops, sessions, and conferences that bring together geoscientists, cognitive scientists, and educators; encouraged her colleagues in cognitive science to engage with geoscientists; and written a string of articles aimed at providing the information that geoscientists need to make use of cognitive science, and that cognitive scientists need to research geoscience. Through these efforts, Kim has been instrumental in catalyzing a new field of research, geoscience learning research. The success of this effort, by Kim and others, can be measured by looking at the growing range of offerings each year at AGU meetings addressing aspects of geoscience thinking and learning.

New research, however, is not enough to transform geoscience education. Bringing research results into widespread use is as challenging in geoscience education as it is in other parts of our field. Here, too, Kim has been a pioneer, working with a variety of different strategies. The results of her map study were incorporated into the educational software product Where Are We?, which has been shown to improve students’ map-reading skills. Her course “Teaching and Learning Concepts in Earth Science” brings these results to students obtaining advanced degrees in geoscience or teaching. Kim has also worked directly with geoscience researchers to bring her understanding of educational theory to the development of teaching activities where students extract insights about the Earth from geoscience data. Reaching even more broadly, Kim developed a community-based system for evaluating and annotating teaching materials for use in geoscience education digital libraries.

In sum, Kim models the ways in which the creativity and rigor that come from the study of geoscience can be applied to geoscience education, from conceptualization and experimental design to the practicalities of implementation and convincing your colleagues of what you have learned. We congratulate her on her accomplishments to date and on being the recipient of the 2009 AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Award.

—CATHRYN A. MANDUCA, Carleton College, Northfield, Minn.


Thank you very much to the American Geophysical Union for the recognition symbolized by this award. I appreciate both the recognition of my own work and the recognition of the importance of geoscience education and geoscience education research. When I attended my first AGU meeting, in 1979, education reform and education research seemed to be nowhere on the radar screen of the organization or of most of the attendees, including me.

But now, in contrast, the early 21st century is a golden age for work in science education innovation and research. AGU has now given 14 education awards, for a wide range of contributions by individuals and groups. All around us, colleagues are finding new and effective ways to build a citizenry that knows more, understands more, and cares more about the Earth and its environment. Geoscientists, learning scientists, and cognitive scientists are reaching across the gulfs between our disciplines, working collaboratively to figure out how humans think and learn about the Earth. Our human minds evolved to think about timescales from a moment to a day to a season to a lifetime, but geoscientists stretch our minds to think about millennia. How do we do this? And how can we help students do it? Our minds evolved to think about spatial scales that we can hold in our hands or walk across in a day. Geoscientists stretch our minds to think on the scale of a mountain range, a continent, or the solar system. How do we do that? How do our minds wrap around a complex system such as the Earth, with multiple intertwined causality chains and multiple interacting feedback loops? As graduate students we were taught how important it is to understand how our tools work, how they were calibrated, what their limits are. I submit that our most important tool as scientists, the tool we all share regardless of subdiscipline, is the human mind. The fascinating field into which I have ventured is trying to understand how this tool works for understanding something as big, old, and complicated as the Earth system.

I got to where I am today through a very convoluted route, through coastal processes, deep-sea marine geology, Global Positioning System geodesy, educational technology, instructional materials development, science journalism education, and research on thinking and learning. At each step and turn, I’ve been blessed with extraordinary friends, colleagues, students, and mentors, who encouraged me to try something new, to plan a yellow brick road but be prepared to deviate from it, to follow my interests and intuitions. Thank you all. And thank you especially to my family, my parents, Merritt and Anita; my daughters, Holly and Dana; and my husband, Dale.

—KIM ANNE KASTENS, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, N. Y.

The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics program received the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the 2008 Joint Assembly Honors Ceremony, which was held on 29 May 2008 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The award honors “a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.” George Veronis, cofounder of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics program, accepted the award.



The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics (GFD) program is now in its fiftieth year. The program started at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1959 and almost immediately was given its present form by a steering committee made up of Willem V. R. Malkus, George Veronis, Edward A. Spiegel, Louis Howard, Melvin Stern, and Henry Stommel. Not long afterward, Joseph Keller joined the team. Most of the founders have continued to participate in the program; in fact, many will be attending this summer.

The 10-week GFD program has maintained a persistent, positive example of dynamic graduate education by example and apprenticeship. It provides an exchange of knowledge and ideas between investigators in the different scientific disciplines that deal with the dynamics of fluids in oceans, in atmospheres, in the Earth’s interior, in planetary interiors, and in stars. Its approximately 60 lectures each year attract staff and students from all over the world. These lectures often extend far beyond their planned 50 minutes, punctuated with questions and remarks from a virtually tireless audience.

All of this happens in a small, unfinished building called Walsh Cottage. The lecture room has blackboards on three sides, and up to 40 people squeeze in, often twice a day. Then something magical happens.

The structure of the program is fixed. First, the principal lectures, which offer an overview of the program’s particular topic each year, take place during the first 2 weeks. Additional lectures by the staff and up to 30 visitors follow daily for the next 6 weeks, often at the rate of two per day. These cover an especially broad range of topics. Some visitors stay only a few days; others participate for the full summer, helping students with their projects.

Each year the program admits approximately 10 graduate student fellows. The fellows prepare a summary of the principal lectures, and then each fellow solves an original research problem, reporting his or her results at the end of the program. Softball games and pizza nights relieve the work pressure and promote an atmosphere of teamwork and informality. The student fellows are assigned two small offices, but they are more likely to be found working in the computer trailer or on the front porch. Some projects are great successes and others sputter, but most are original and creative. Many fellows acquire lifelong contacts and colleagues. Well over 60% of the fellows have become faculty members, although others are successful at business, and one is even in Congress. Coverage is international, and there is a sizable percentage of women, some of whom have become leaders in their respective fields.

Virtually everything in fluid dynamics has been on Walsh’s blackboards: chaos, dynamo theory, turbulence, waves, boundary layers, coherent structures, non-Newtonian fluids, rotation, stratification, explosions, amplitude equations, evolution equations, compatibility conditions. All sizes are included, from bacteria to the cosmos. Timescales range from microseconds to billions of years, and velocities extend from microns per second to the speed of light. The list of lecturers reads like a who’s who of GFD. Every student should have such an experience; it is wonderful!

In its first 10 years the GFD program acquired international stature. Almost 50 years later it continues to make a steady and enduring contribution. An immense number of people (well over 1000) have participated. In a field that has experienced great changes, Walsh Cottage lectures are as vibrant and exciting today as when the program started.

A large percentage of the original team has participated for almost the entire span. Each member is highly prominent in a specific field, and the collective group has received a high number of honors for their own research. At GFD, they have played both different and overlapping roles. Malkus and Veronis served as organizers (and as softball coaches). They also engaged fellows in projects involving convection, dynamos, and ocean circulation. Spiegel sat (and sits) in the lecture room or on the front porch and entices students and staff alike into fruitful research in convection, bifurcation, and chaos. Stern pursued questions concerning convection and rotating fluids in the laboratory and with numerical work. Both Keller and Howard continually work with countless mathematical projects concerning fluid flow with all its variants, with some laboratory experiments sprinkled in. In the first 10 years, Stommel brought the ocean to the blackboards as only he could. Their cumulative works over the past half century are legendary.

It is a happy fact that many younger colleagues are eagerly continuing the program. To the founders, let us convey this from all of those who have benefited by your presence in the little cottage: We salute you!

—JOHN A. WHITEHEAD, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Mass.


In September 1957, at the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Pierre Welander and I heard from a Swedish intelligence agent that the Soviet Union would send a satellite into orbit before the end of the month. Sputnik actually went into orbit on 4 October 1957, inducing the U.S. government to increase its support for the National Science Foundation (NSF) fourfold in 1 year. Because Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) had no formal educational program at the time, Hank Stommel, Willem Malkus, and I had been discussing the idea of starting a summer training program on the effects of rotation on fluid motions. In October 1958, I submitted to Paul Fye, director of WHOI, the first draft of a proposal for a summer program on geophysical fluid dynamics directed toward graduate students. Fye sent the five-page proposal to the director of NSF, asking for $31,500 for 3 years. It was accepted a few months later, and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics program was born.

Before the program started, there had been a biweekly seminar series between theorists at WHOI and a group of meteorologists and applied mathematicians at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The latter included Lou Howard, who visited WHOI during the summers of 1957 and 1958. Another summer visitor was Ed Spiegel, a graduate student in astronomy at Michigan, who was working on stellar convection. He and Lou took part in the discussions. Melvin Stern, who had been in the Air Force, joined the WHOI staff at about that time.

In 1960, Willem Malkus, the director of the program for that summer, proposed that lectures be restricted to the first 2 weeks so that during the following 8 weeks the fellows could focus on their research, give a 1-hour lecture, and submit a written report at the end of the summer. The fellows also recorded their versions of the beginning lecture series for inclusion in the final report. This structure has been followed ever since, with a central theme for each summer ranging from rotation and stratification to convection in stars to non-Newtonian fluids.

The aim of the program is to induce fellows to learn by doing research rather than by taking courses. That transition is the most difficult one for graduate students to make. We select students who are just starting their research careers (usually after 2 years of graduate study), and we try to break down the common student-teacher barrier by cooperating on research efforts and by playing softball together in the local league.

Four of the staff were full-time employees at WHOI in 1959. Five years later they had all moved to other institutions. In order to continue the program, a steering committee was formed made up of Howard, Malkus, Spiegel, Stern, Stommel, and Veronis, all of whom had demonstrated a commitment to the program. Joe Keller, who was very effective in his first visit in 1965, agreed to come every other year and was added to the steering committee. From 1962 to 1971 the program was fully supported by the Advanced Training Projects section of NSF. After 1971 it has competed for funding with 5-year proposals submitted to NSF and the Office of Naval Research and has been supported mainly by NSF’s Division of Oceanography.

—GEORGE VERONIS, Yale University, New Haven, Conn., and cofounder, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Program, Woods Hole, Mass.


It is both an honor and a privilege to present Michael Mayhew as the 2007 recipient of the AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Award. I do so on behalf of the geosciences community and the dozens of geoscientists who wrote letters documenting the sustained commitment and impact Mike has had on geoscience education. He is highly deserving of this recognition because his contributions to geophysical education have resulted in a significant and long-lasting cultural change in the community such that geophysical education is embraced and promoted by scientists across the discipline; and the development of a vibrant and highly successful geophysical education research community dedicated to advancing understanding of how we teach and learn about Earth. In 1996, Mike assembled a team of scientific leaders who articulated the wide-ranging educational needs of the community and formulated a vision and strategy for developing a new education program within the NSF’s GEO directorate. Their report, entitled “Geoscience education: A recommended strategy,” was the basis for creating the Geoscience Education program, the first and one of the few education programs within a research directorate at NSF. This report and funding program jump-started a revolution that took geoscience education from one of the most anemic education efforts in the basic sciences to one of the strongest. The community was able to explore, learn, and grow this new field from its strength in science. It is noteworthy that much of what was advocated in that initial report has come to pass and it has come by engaging mainstream geoscience researchers. Mike’s vision and implementation of GEO/Education enabled the research community to leverage their broader impact efforts into a true service and education function whose role and contribution is well beyond the timescale of the individual research project. His vision thus kept the productivity of the community high in contributions to both education and current research.

Mike’s efforts in building an education community and infrastructure go well beyond that first program. He was also instrumental in establishing education programs as normal components of science centers and facilities. The improved success of geoscientists in science education is due to the partnerships Mike fostered within NSF and with other agencies, which resulted in broader understanding and support for geoscience education.

Finally, Mike’s longest-lasting contribution might be in the many partnerships and collaborations he has brokered to help new scientists get started in this field. In addition to being a catalyst for change and innovation within the geoscience education community, Michael is also a mentor, supporter, and consistent source of inspiration and encouragement for numerous individuals who have chosen to pursue careers in this much needed area of scholarship. His impact has been far reaching, as his efforts over the past decade have created a vibrant community, inspired a new cadre of leaders in the field, and established geoscience education as an important and credible research endeavor among geoscientists.

—MICHELLE HALL, Science Education Solutions, Los Alamos, N.M.


We started up a geoscience education activity in NSF’s Directorate for Geosciences over a decade ago. This was very much a team effort in the directorate, but we also worked with a succession of talented and dedicated program managers in the Division of Undergraduate Education, two of whom became recipients of this award. Likewise, we found common ground with other agencies, particularly NASA, where similar efforts were under way. We went forward largely with the attitude that forgiveness is easier to get than permission and that we should keep going until someone told us to stop.

We had pitifully little money to work with, so we started a small grants program with the broadest possible scope, with the idea that a little money in the hands of a creative and motivated person can go a long way, and can lay the foundation for something better funded and longer term. It was amazing to me, and highly motivating, how many highly innovative projects came to fruition. Perhaps just as significant, we discovered that the synergy of highly motivated investigators, superb review panels, and a proliferation of education sessions at AGU and other meetings led quickly to a widespread and well-networked community that continues today. The energy and excitement in this diverse community were then and are now palpable.

Then, when the opportunity came along to add an educational dimension to the interagency digital library initiative, the community was poised to swing into action and form the Digital Library for Earth System Education, and in the process the community expanded much further.

This community has an amazing amount of energy and tolerance for frustration in the face of daunting obstacles, and progress is steadily being made, even on the difficult but exceedingly important challenge of eroding the traditional barriers between research and education. I have no doubt that this community will ultimately succeed in its quest.

I would have liked to have named in the space available some individuals that have played a key role in this adventure. But there are so very many for whom I have the greatest respect and admiration that I would feel very badly indeed to mention some and not others. So I have chosen to name no names at all.

I realize that it is unusual to recommend this award for someone from the federal service. I would like to note something that I believe is well known, yet rarely acknowledged: that there are and have been many individuals—both permanent federal employees and those who pass through agencies on temporary duty—who have worked hard and largely behind the scenes to make sure that the creative efforts of members of the community can be realized. They do not expect, nor do they typically receive, much recognition for their dedicated efforts on the high road, even from their own organizations. This award is in part such a recognition, and so I would like to think that I am accepting it as much on their behalf as my own.

—MICHAEL MAYHEW, U.S. National Science Foundation (ret), Arlington, Va.


I am most pleased and honored to present this citation of the COMET Program for the 2006 AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Award for its outstanding efforts to provide and improve access to quality science education materials worldwide. Over the past 15 years, the COMET Program has served as the conduit between internationally recognized experts in various geosciences and those tasked with protection of lives and property around the world. COMET was originally created in 1990 to help educate U.S. operational meteorologists to apply the latest science of weather forecasting, and to incorporate new sources of data, such as Doppler radar and advanced meteorological satellites. COMET now also reaches university faculty and students, emergency managers, broadcasters, and the general public with its ever-expanding list of educational materials on a variety of topics in geophysical disciplines. Over 400 universities and colleges have accessed the COMET training Web site. From its inception, COMET has engaged learners by using a unique, holistic approach in developing training. This approach not only incorporates sound science, but also uses creative instructional techniques and embraces the most current technology in both the development and delivery of training. The exceptional quality of COMET materials is the result of hard work by the accomplished instructional designers, scientists, programmers, graphic artists, and support staff who make up the COMET team. The successful training development model that has evolved at COMET involves working with scientific experts to capture their knowledge in rich, engaging, multimedia learning modules that apply key scientific concepts to case study examples. Through COMET online learning materials, anyone anywhere in the world can learn science directly from the experts, free of charge. COMET has become internationally recognized as a leader in computer-based training and shares their best practices and lessons learned with other training agencies worldwide to assist them with their own development activities. Over the past 15 years, technology has evolved, and COMET training has taken advantage of these improvements. In the early 1990s, its computer-based training modules were delivered via laserdisc, which later evolved to CD and now are delivered exclusively via the MetEd Web site (http://meted.ucar.edu). In addition, to support case study development for both its computer-based training and its classroom courses, COMET developed software to help emulate the operational forecasting environment and then developed a data archive and targeted case studies to support it. Community outreach is also a focus of COMET. To support professional development and education in government, in the private sector, and at universities, COMET provides the MetEd Registration and Assessment System that administers quizzes, tracks scores, and issues completion certificates for students using the COMET modules. A multimedia database provides access to training media developed by COMET that can be used freely for educational purposes. The program's Case Study Library provides comprehensive meteorological data sets for classroom use or research activities. For international users, COMET has a growing body of materials that have been translated into Spanish, French, Korean, and Russian. COMET has also made great strides to bridge the gap between the academic and operational meteorology communities by providing funds for applied research conducted jointly by operational forecast offices and universities. These partnerships have advanced scientific knowledge and improved forecasts. At the same time, they have resulted in a better understanding between the two groups and have helped form long-time collaborations. COMET is a very important part of the atmospheric science enterprise, and I am very happy to see the program recognized with this award. —JACK D. FELLOWS, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo.


Thank you very much, Jack, for this generous citation. As the COMET Program director and on behalf of the COMET staff, our parent organization (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research; UCAR), our program sponsors, our community of users, and the many experts who so generously work with us, I want to thank AGU for this great honor. In the late 1980s, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through its National Weather Service (NWS) approached UCAR with the idea of setting up a university/NWS scientific training program. The purpose was to reengage the university community in advancing the weather services of the nation, especially as the weather services were being modernized. In 1990, COMET began actively producing materials used to train thousands of forecasters without requiring them to leave their duty stations for days at a time. Although distance education today is commonplace, at the time we began, this was blazing new territory. We promoted the idea of combining distance training with on-site train-the-trainer courses. We were also among the first to develop computer-based instruction that applied sound instructional design principles that include the use of audio, video, animations, and interactive exercises that simulate real-world forecasting tasks. And while our focus is mainly on meteorology education, we have expanded into other geosciences such as oceanography and space physics. Over the past 15 years, our methods have evolved to keep pace with ever changing technology, which is a continuous challenge. In that time, we have created over 550 hours of interactive multimedia instruction, offered over 300 weeks of courses, and funded more than 250 collaborative research projects involving more than 70 different universities and 100 weather forecast offices. Of course, these accomplishments are possible only with the support of our sponsors. In addition to the NWS, we have had long-term support from NOAA/NESDIS (National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service), the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency, and the U.S. Navy Meteorology and Oceanography Command. We have also received support from six other federal agencies: the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Army. In addition, we have also received funding from six international organizations: World Meteorology Organization, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Meteorological Service of Canada, German Foreign Aid Program, Taiwan Weather Bureau, and EUMETSAT [European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites]. The vision, support, and commitment of these agencies and the NOAA/NWS are also rightly commended by this award. I would also like to thank UCAR and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which have hosted COMET since its first day and provided facilities and scientists for the program. I would also like to recognize the staff of COMET for their outstanding talents and dedication to the advancement of weather forecasting. I am continually in awe of what they do and how well they do it, and without the staff, the program is nothing. Finally, my acknowledgments would be incomplete if I did not also recognize the thousands of hours spent by university and government scientists in providing scientific expertise, teaching our classes, recording audio, reviewing graphics and scripts, participating in collaborative research projects, and providing program oversight. Their generosity and dedication truly exemplify what excellence in geosciences education can accomplish. Over the past 15 years, we have seen huge changes in technology, and the ability to train professionals and educate students anywhere in the world has expanded dramatically. However, technology is just a means to an end. It does not by itself address how to teach effectively. Poor classroom instruction does not improve by making it available on the Web. Issues in the news such as hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and global climate change point to the need for improving geosciences education at all levels, but especially for decision makers and the public. This requires that all of us who teach (which in one way or another includes everyone) continually think carefully about what people really need to know and how they can best learn what it is we want to teach them. And we must all work to inform policy makers that quality geosciences education must be an important component of all scientific activities. Again, on behalf of our program I thank AGU for this great honor. —TIM SPANGLER, COMET Program, Boulder, Colo.


It is a distinct pleasure to present the new international award citation for Uppugunduri Aswathanarayana, honorary director of the Mahadevan International Centre for Water Resources Management, in India. This award, here being presented for the first time, recognizes individuals or small groups that further the Earth and space sciences, and use science for the benefit of society in less favored nations.

I became acquainted with Professor A (as he is known to those who have difficulty pronouncing his name) in the course of geophysical fieldwork in East Africa in the mid-1980s, when he was head of the Department of Geology at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. I have followed his diverse career ever since. In July 2006 he turned 78, but he hasn’t slowed down at all!

His career as an educator in developing countries over the past half-century has been remarkable. He has written a series of six books on ecologically sustainable, economically viable, and employment-generating ways of natural resource management. These volumes have received excellent reviews in international scientific journals, and are used as university-level textbooks and reference books all over the world.

In Tanzania, Professor A demonstrated in many ways how science can benefit society. As an example, he and his associates made use of geochemical and isotopic tools to understand the etiology of, and design mitigation methods for, geoenvironment-related diseases, such as fluorosis (caused by excessive amounts of fluoride in drinking water). Fluorosis is endemic in northern Tanzania, where the extremely high fluoride content of some natural waters can be traced to episodic leaching of highly soluble villiaumite (NaF) present in the volcanic ash. Two methods of mitigation were developed through understanding of the sources and pathways of fluoride to humans:

Because pond water in tholeiitic basalt terrain tends to be less fluorous, such ponds were recommended to be color-coded green, to help the local people identify safer drinking water, and
defluoridation measures were designed for the community and home, through gypsum/alum-lime treatment or by passing the fluorous water through activated charcoal made from coconut shell.
Aswathanarayana moved to Mozambique in 1990. As an adviser to the government of Mozambique he designed and instituted a Centre for Technology Transfer, and got it recognized as a Satellite Centre of the UNESCO Institute for Trace Element Research.

In a poor suburb of Maputo, Mozambique’s capital city, he developed a series of geoscience-based microenterprises, customized to the environmental and socioeconomic situations of individual families. The microenterprises addressed drinking water (through boreholes), housing (manually compressed soil-cement bricks), sanitation (Indian-style pour/flush latrines), energy (fuel-efficient cook stoves), capture of rainwater from rooftops, and harvesting of surface runoff. The project, titled “Innovative use of people-participatory technologies for poverty alleviation and improvement of the quality of life,” was chosen by the Third World Network of Scientific Organizations and the United Nations as an outstanding example of innovation in Africa.

Professor A returned to India in late 2001 where he founded and has since been involved in the development of the Mahadevan International Centre for Water Resources Management, a clearinghouse for water sciences and technologies in developing countries. The Mahadevan Centre has already been formally recognized by UNESCO as a Centre of Excellence in Earth Sciences.

Uppugunduri Aswathanarayana has devoted a professional lifetime to the needs of students and practicing scientists in developing countries. He has been awarded Fellowship in the Third World Academy of Sciences “in recognition of his outstanding contributions to science, and to the development of science in the South.” Today the American Geophysical Union recognizes him similarly with its new international award.

—HENRY POLLACK, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


I am grateful to AGU for granting me the new international award. More than the award itself, I am deeply touched by the grace and elegance of the language used by the president of AGU in communicating the award. He said that I am the “first recipient of the AGU’s newest award,” that “my contributions epitomized the purpose of the award,” and that my “contributions will bring distinction to the award, and set a high mark for the future.” I will remember all of my life these kind words of appreciation. It is a great honor to be a member of an institution that so vigorously promotes and cherishes excellence.

Henry Pollack, the nominator, has been my lucky talisman. His nomination got me the AGU Award for Excellence in Geophysical Education in 2005, and now this award. I am grateful to him for the kind words he has been pleased to say about me in the citation. I am thankful to my former associates Evelyne Mbede, of Tanzania, and Filipe Lucio, of Mozambique, for supporting my candidature.

I served the University of Dar es Salaam for 10 years (1980–1990). In Tanzania, like in any other developing country, things go wrong all the time. I deliberately designed fail-safe systems. We built our own power supply and water supply. We distilled our own water and chemicals. The departmental building was fitted with a steel trellis, and unpickable locks, to prevent burglaries, which are common. The facilities that we built were made use of to serve the country’s mineral industries, and to tackle geoenvironment-related health problems such as fluorosis, goiter, stomach cancer, etc.

In Mozambique, I not only served as Commonwealth Professor in the University, but also held a number of consultancies, such as UNDP, World Bank, SIDA, Louis Berger, etc. Mozambique happened to be the world’s lowest-income country. One of the most challenging tasks I faced was to design microenterprises to provide the livelihood for the poor in a slum near Maputo. The toughest case was that of an illiterate woman, with no skills. She is Catholic and does not observe family planning. She had five children, no husband, and a blind mother. I recommended for her a manual maize mill. She provides the milling of maize as a service, and uses the maize waste (20–25% of the feed) to raise ducks. The manual maize mill is fixed in concrete in the hut, to prevent it from being stolen. All the members of her family, including the blind mother, could operate the maize mill, and earn their livelihood.

Since returning to India in December 2001, I have been engaged in promoting a Water Resources Centre in the name of my guru, the late C. Mahadevan. The mission of the Centre is to serve as a clearinghouse for water sciences and technologies in developing countries. The Centre is making steady progress.

—UPPUGUNDURI ASWATHANARAYANA, Mahadevan International Centre for Water Resources Management, Hyderabad, India

Cathryn A. Manduca received the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the AGU Joint Assembly Honors Ceremony, which was held on 19 May 2004 in Montreal, Canada. The award honors “a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.”



“This year’s recipient of the AGU’s Excellence in Geophysics Education Award, Cathryn Manduca, is recognized for her sustained contributions in the development of communities of scholars, both real and virtual, in support of excellence in geoscience education. Cathy is a leader and visionary who has repeatedly identified the issues that represent next steps in improving geoscience education, has charted the course to bring these issues to the attention of the community, has created new collaborations and networks to best address these issues, and has disseminated results to create new opportunities.

“Cathy hails from McCall, Idaho, straddling the suture between North America and the exotic terranes to the west. A geochemist and petrologist by training, Cathy undertook her undergraduate studies at Williams College—with a return to her homeland for a junior year exchange program at the University of Idaho. She then proceeded to her doctoral studies at Caltech, where she produced pioneering work on the Idaho Batholith.

“As coordinator of the Keck Geology Consortium for almost 6 years, she created research opportunities for 75 to 100 students per year, strengthened research collaborations among institutions, and developed a national model for how to best to support research experiences for undergraduates.

“Subsequently, Cathy has been a key leader in two national workshops that have changed the direction of geophysical education; she co-chaired the Shaping the Future Conference, hosted by AGU in 1996, which advocated using an integrated Earth system approach in geoscience education; and the Portals to the Future Conference, from which the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) was born. As co-author of the DLESE Community Plan and chair of the original DLESE Steering Committee, Cathy not only engaged the geoscience community in the broad vision of how new information technologies could change what and how we teach about Earth, but she extended this influence to the larger world of the National Science Digital Library.

“Her current work as director of the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College (http://serc.carleton.edu) continues to explore new applications of information technology to support geoscience education in such diverse areas as Using Data in the Classroom, Quantitative Skills in the Geosciences, Earth Exploration Toolkit, and Starting Point, which provides resources for entry-level geoscience courses. As one of the leaders of the faculty development program, On the Cutting Edge, Cathy has been co-convener of a wide range of professional development workshops such as Using Global Datasets to Teach Geoscience, Effective Web Design, Teaching Petrology, and Teaching with Visualizations. It was Cathy’s vision to couple live workshops with Web technology to more broadly engage colleagues and to disseminate the workshop outcomes.

“Cathy has also been a key leader in establishing a new field of research focused on learning in the geosciences. As co-convener of a workshop on ‘Bringing Research on Learning to the Geosciences,’ she has helped to create a new community of scholars including geoscientists, educators, cognitive psychologists, and learning scientists.

“Cathy has a long record of service to the geoscience community, as a member of AGU’s Committee on Education and Human Resources, and as current president of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. She has also been an active ambassador of the geosciences to other disciplines through her contributions to Project Kaleidoscope, Council for Undergraduate Research, and Sigma Xi. In her local community, she has had no less impact, working with the Olmsted County planning board on water quality issues.

“Perhaps her greatest legacy will be the community of geoscience educators she helped to build. Her initiative, energy, enthusiasm, and good humor inspire us all. It is our honor and privilege to present the recipient of the 2004 AGU Excellence in Geophysics Education Award, Cathryn Manduca.”

—DAVID MOGK and HEATHER MACDONALD, Montana State University, Bozeman; College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va.


“It is a wonderful honor to receive American Geophysical Union Award for Excellence in Geophysical Education. It is also a real privilege to be working in geoscience education today. Public leaders have a growing interest in science education and growing recognition that geosciences play an important role in understanding and solving environmental problems. This gives us a unique opportunity to bring geoscience education into the mainstream of formal and informal learning in new and exciting ways.

“One of the best things about working in geoscience education, and one of the reasons so much progress is being made, is the strong geoscience education community that collaborates with friendship and collegiality. The good will, and can do spirit, in this community is amazing. I want to thank all of the smart, energetic, creative, people in geoscience, cognitive science, education, and geoscience education who routinely give their time, ideas, and energy for the common good of geoscience education. It is learning from you and watching your collective impact that makes my work exciting and valuable.

“This award reflects what all of us have been able to do together. Thank you for both making that work possible and for recognizing my role in it.

“There are some particular members of this community who have been especially kind to me, with whom I have collaborated closely, and from whom I have learned especially important things. To these people let me say a special thank you: the faculty in the Keck Geology Consortium, especially Bill Fox, Hank Woodard, Bud Wobus, and Sandra Glass; Carleton College and its geology department; my collaborators on current projects, and those who have worked closely with me on committees and workshops; the SERC staff; and the people who have mentored me and served as role models: Sandra Glass, Jack Hehn, Trish Morse, Jeanne Narum. Most especially, I want to thank David Mogk and Heather Macdonald. None of my work would be possible without their special friendship, encouragement, advice and collaboration.

“Of course I would not be receiving this award if it weren’t for all the people who have nurtured me through my life. My parents, John and Sally Allen, who believed that I could do anything and encouraged me to figure out how to make all things possible. My husband, Armando Manduca, a wonderful partner who never complains about my travels or work. My children Katie and Robert who love me no matter what. My teachers through life: math teachers Bev Bradford and Connie Hartman (it never occurred to me that women couldn’t do math), Mack Miller, who through skiing taught me to keep going over the top of the hill, Bud Wobus who sparked my interest in geology and has never stopped being my advisor, Lee Silver and Hugh Taylor who taught me to do research carefully and thoughtfully.

“To all of you for this touching honor, I give my thanks.”

—CATHRYN MANDUCA, Cathryn A. Manduca, Carleton College, Northfield, Minn.

Jacob Bear received the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held on 10 December 2003, in San Francisco, California. The award honors “a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual , or group.”



“It is my pleasure to introduce Jacob Bear, Professor Emeritus of Hydrogeology, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, as the recipient of the AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Medal of 2003. During more than 40 years in the field, he has significantly influenced hydrogeological education worldwide through his many books and short courses and his editorial leadership of an international journal and a book series. Under his influence, several generations of geoscientists have learned hydrogeology as a quantitative science and have been stimulated to use analytic and numerical methods in their professions. I would like to briefly highlight three of his many accomplishments and then present quotes from a few of many supporting letters I received. These statements show how he richly deserves this recognition.

“Since 1972, Professor Bear has written a number of textbooks in the field of flow in porous media, which have been well used in universities worldwide. His book, Dynamics of Fluids in Porous Media, published in 1972, is a classic and is well referenced even today. This book was one of the first that presented flow in porous media on a sound physical basis and in a rigorous mathematical framework.

A citation index search found that it is cited more than three times as often per year, over 1999–2001, as several other well-known books in groundwater, even though it is now 31 years old.

“Professor Bears second major accomplishment is as a teacher and an educational innovator. He has taught and continues to teach short courses all over the world, in 23 countries on all five continents. As a pioneer who started the short courses format, Professor Bear recognized the need for re-education of practicing hydrogeologists, as well as the need for advanced students in both developed and developing countries to learn new approaches. Today, Professor Bear expands his interest to computer-mediated distance learning courses.

“Professor Bears third major accomplishment is his establishment of the journal, Transport in Porous Media, published by Kluwer Academic Publishers. When he began this endeavor more than 10 years ago, he recognized that this subject is of importance to a number of related disciplines and that there is a need for cross fertilization. The publication has flourished as a very significant forum that brings together people from these different scientific communities.

“I conclude by quoting briefly three statements from the many supporting letters I received.

Like no one else, Professor Bear has shaped and influenced the education of thousands of scientists and engineers in the area of subsurface flows….I cannot think of another person who has so clearly left such an imprint…

Jacob has pioneered and refined high quality, interdisciplinary, science/engineering education based on solid mathematical principles. He is unquestionably well recognized around the world as a giant in hydrogeological education.

Prof. Bears well known books…have become standard reference in Japan in teaching advanced undergraduate and graduate students of groundwater hydrology, soil mechanics, soil physics, drainage and irrigation engineering, civil and environmental engineering, and petroleum and chemical engineering….

“It is my pleasure to introduce Professor Jacob Bear, the AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Medalist of 2003.”

—CHIN-FU TSANG, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif.


“Colleagues, friends, and guests: it is indeed a pleasure for me to stand here today as the recipient of the American Geophysical Union 2003 Excellence in Geophysical Education Award. It is also an honor, because the American Geophysical Union is the most prestigious scientific organization and, certainly, the most important one in our fields of interest, including my own field of activity—hydrology, and in particular hydrology of groundwater, and phenomena of transport in porous media. I would like to thank all those who were involved in bestowing this honor upon me: the Awards and Grants Committee, Professor Chin Fu Tsang of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory for taking the initiative and carrying it to fruition, and my colleagues who supported the nomination.

“For any society, education is the main tool for ensuring both continuity and progress, development and innovation, as required by the ever-growing challenges and complexity of human life on this planet. The same is also true when we focus on a particular profession or discipline. Good education, of both researchers and practitioners, is the main tool for ensuring good products, which, in our case, are optimal solutions of problems that face our society, and the resolution of conflicts between efforts to achieve a variety of objectives, often conflicting ones. As typical examples of such problems, focusing on issues and problems that are within the scope of my own field of activity, I could mention the following: how do we enable, enhance the development, plan and implement sustainable management of water resources, while preserving the environment? What does ‘preserving the environment involve? How do we supply the required quality and quantity of water to the population, so as to ensure an appropriately high standard of living, without depleting the existing water resources? How do we handle wastewater and the huge quantities of solid waste in a way that will prevent them from destroying the environment? In fact, how do we treat them as useful resources rather than as nuisances that should be disposed of?

“I have been using the word education to emphasize the difference between teaching skills, that is, causing the student to know how to do things, and educating students and practitioners on how to think, how to approach a problem, what factors to take into account, and how to communicate and interact with professionals of various disciplines, especially nontechnical ones, like societal, economic, and legal, that affect the considered problem. We have to make the student and practitioner feel, believe, and act in a way that aims at improving the way we live, rather than merely deriving solutions to mathematical models. This approach to education is more important nowadays as compared with the past, because of the ease of solving the partial differential equations by computers, which grow faster and stronger every day, while the problems that face society become more complex and multifaceted.

“Because of space constraints, I would just emphasize some aspects that I believe should be included in our education of professionals, in all disciplines: educate to use models as a basic tool for understanding and solving complicated problems, starting with the conceptual model and emphasizing model calibration and model uncertainties; educate to understand the role of models in management, and the importance of a multidisciplinary approach; and educate to incorporate conservation of the environment as an essential constraint. Thank you.”

—JACOB BEAR, echnion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa

The American Museum of Natural History – Hall of Planet Earth (HoPE) was awarded the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the AGU Spring Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held on 29 May 2002, in Washington, D.C. The award acknowledges a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.



“A little over a year ago, I decided to nominate the American Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Planet Earth (HoPE) for the AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Award.”

“I took this step with some trepidation, knowing that I had some conflict of interest, having just started to work there on leave from LLNL. However, I had taken the job because of the opportunity to communicate my science to the general public, and I was inordinately pleased with the many opportunities that abounded, thanks to the hard work and foresight of the people who had built HoPE. So when Deane Rink suggested we nominate HoPE for this award, I decided to go for it, nominating the four people most responsible for putting it all together: Ed Mathez, Heather Sloan, Jim Webster, and Ro Kinzler.

“Each year, about 4.5 million visitors pass through the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City, many of whom encounter the Hall of Planet Earth and learn how the Earth works. It certainly has educated me, and I think it could do the same for you, and even some of your students, family, and colleagues!

“On June 12, 1999, HoPE burst onto the New York scene with a coast-to-coast morning TV show highlighting some of the spectacular specimens on display: 38 tons of rock, with an average weight of 250 kg. One of the collecting expeditions was to the Juan de Fuca Ridge, 2.2 km beneath the Pacific. More than 10 tons were collected from four black smokers. Some smokers were still steaming and squirming with life when they hit the deck, to the delight of the biologists, geochemists, and school teachers who participated. NOVA’s story on this expedition, ‘Volcanoes of the Deep,’ is a must-see!

“Large, spectacular, mostly touchable rock samples, some surfaces polished, some natural, and casts of outcrops dominate the landscape of the Hall of Planet Earth and help to focus the visitor’s attention on the five major questions addressed: (1) How has the Earth evolved? (2) How do we read the rocks? (3) Why are there ocean basins, continents, and mountains? (4) What causes climate and climate change? (5) Why is the Earth habitable?

“My favorite of the rock-told stories in HoPE is the oxygenation of the ocean/atmosphere, illustrated with a 3075-kg boulder of banded-iron formation. The life-form that provided this oxygen is represented by a 760-kg stromatolite boulder from the Atar formation, Mauritania. It is displayed, cut open like a book, to reveal its internal structure. These samples illustrate the importance of time-integrated activity in the evolution of Earth systems. It is no great stretch of the imagination to realize the profound effect that human activity is having on such systems today. One adult visitor, from the World Trade Organization, after listening to Ro and me expound on the role played by the single-celled stromatolites in oxidizing the atmosphere, asked a question that I am still pondering: Is the oxidation of the atmosphere completed?

“The center of HoPE is occupied by a globe, but instead of being a sphere, it is an internally-projected hemisphere, about 2.6 m across, mounted on the ceiling. The hemisphere serves as the screen, and, sitting in the granite amphitheater below, one might imagine viewing it from a lunar crater. The image is a simulation based on NOAA and USAF weather-satellite data. As the Earth slowly rotates, first the clouds are removed, then the vegetation and ice are stripped away, and finally, the oceans are drained, revealing a rocky planet without water, atmosphere, or life. The image without vegetation is based on soil maps; the bathymetric data necessary to drain and fill the oceans are based on satellite gravity data, augmented by those from shipborne and airborne surveys at high latitudes. As you watch the water drain from the sphere above you, you can marvel that the last place to empty in the ocean basins is next to the continents, at the trenches where oceans dive beneath lighter continental lithosphere. The highest points in the oceans, and the first to drain, are the volcanic-ridge systems, usually near the centers of ocean basins, where new oceanic lithosphere is forming. What a way to drive home to family and friends the message of how our active sphere works to recycle its garbage!

“I love the ‘Scientists at Work’ videos, which show field research as well as computer modeling. My favorite of these is one by Los Alamos scientists, demonstrating a magnetic field reversal. I could go on, but I’ve overrun my word allotment.

“Friends and colleagues, the Earth sciences community has an exciting educational tool in the heart of Manhattan. I invite you to come and continue your education! Let’s organize a field trip!”

—AL DUBA, American Museum of Natural History, New York, N.Y.


“When we set out to build a new hall of the Earth, there were a few things we instinctively knew we wanted. One was an exhibit about the modern science, which led to the first quandary: What is the modern science? It’s easy enough to say that the Earth works as a set of interacting systems, but this is not a meaningful notion to anyone but academics, and even then the statement hardly incites inspiration. We would come to realize, through discussions with colleagues, that we could embody the idea in a few questions that the modern science has emboldened us to seek to answer: How has the Earth evolved, for example, and why is it habitable? Such questions serve as the entry way into the science, invite intellectual exploration, and would become the organizational basis of the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth (HoPE).

“We wanted HoPE to be educational. How does one educate? By example, by providing inspiration, by touching the imagination-just the ways good teachers taught us. The medium of exhibition lends itself to these. Objects-the stuff of most museums-are inherently interesting precisely because they speak to the inner self and provide means of seeing our relationship to the world.

“We also wanted to transmit the personality of our field. Who are we, how do we think, what inspires us? In this, we were fortunate to work with Ralph Appelbuam, one of the great museum designers. We took Ralph and his group to active lava flows on Hawaii, to big computers at Los Alamos, and to informal dinners for conversations with colleagues. They saw that however varied and arcane our research may be, our inspiration comes from what we see around us in nature, and we invariably come back to the stuff of the Earth. The result was a brilliant design feature-huge samples. The rocks, as Ralph put it, are the evidence, so that’s what our hall would be built around. Big (and mostly touchable) samples also enabled us to meet one of the most difficult challenges, namely touching the wide audience from children to adults.

“More goes into a great exhibit than great design. Teamwork at all levels is necessary. At AMNH, we have the good fortune to have highly able and professional colleagues and a long tradition of rooting exhibits in academic science. Generous donors are also needed, and for HoPE the Gottesman family came forward. One more element was important. More than 125 colleagues from the Earth science community contributed to the exhibit, and they played a major role in making it what it is.

“HoPE illustrates the important role that exhibits can play in education at all levels. This is worth pondering especially because university museums have a potentially important, albeit seldom realized, role to play here.

“It is a real delight to receive this award, and we are gratified that you judge that we have served our community well. Thank you.”

American Museum of Natural History’s HoPE Team, New York, N.Y.

Dorothy L. Stout was given the AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the AGU Spring Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held May 31, 2001, in Boston, Massachusetts. The award acknowledges a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.



“Dorothy Lalonde (Dottie) Stout, this year’s recipient of the AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Award, is a true educational pioneer, boldly going where few geoscientists have gone before. During the last 3 decades, Dottie received the Robert Wallace Webb (National Association of Geosciences Teachers’) Teaching Award, mentored numerous students, and served the geoscience profession with vision, dedication, and boundless energy. As Steve Semken of Dine College has noted, ‘Her accomplishments are legion: innovative teacher, curriculum designer, National Association of Geoscience Teachers’ President, GSA Councilor, conference organizer, and global field trip leader.’

“First and foremost, Dottie is an outstanding and inspirational educator. As a professor at Cypress College in southern California, she has introduced thousands of students to the wonders of geology and geophysics; led dozens of local, regional, and international field trips; and was one of the first geoscience instructors at either the 2- or 4-year level to infuse new computer and information-based technologies into her classroom instruction. Her interest in the use of new technologies led, in turn, to the development of Project Update Geoscience (PUG) and to her becoming co-principal investigator on the Earth and Space Science Technological Education Project (ESSTEP). These faculty professional development programs have profoundly influenced hundreds of secondary, community college, and university educators, as well as thousands of students. As one ESSTEP participant put it, ‘When I met [Dottie], I was a good teacher, a solid teacher, but not a great teacher. I [now] want to be a great teacher.’

“Second, Dottie is a catalyst for change and a leader in the geoscience education community. As Robert Ridky notes, ‘The range of Dottie’s influence on geoscience education has been enormous. In her quiet, purposeful way, she has been the catalyst behind virtually all of the major initiatives advancing geoscience education during the past several decades.’ In the early 1990s, she helped to create both the GSA Geoscience Education Division and the national Coalition for Earth Science Education (CESE). Dottie also worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the 1994 AGU Chapman Conference, Scrutiny of Undergraduate Geoscience Education. This, in turn, catalyzed the 1996 AGU/National Science Foundation Shaping the Future of Undergraduate Earth Science Education conference, which created a blueprint for innovation in undergraduate geoscience departments. In addition to these efforts, in 1990, Dottie became the first woman President of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and, during her tenure, she established the James Shea Award to recognize excellence in geoscience writing.

“During 1999 and 2000, Dottie worked at the National Science Foundation. Her efforts there have been instrumental in advancing the cause of 2-year colleges and raising awareness about the important role they play in the early training of geoscientists and science teachers. Dottie’s infectious enthusiasm and unique ability to bring diverse constituents together have also led to new collaborations between the Geoscience and Education Directorates at NSF and between NSF, NASA, and other government agencies. One outcome of these collaborations is the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE), an initiative that promises to transform teaching and learning at all grade levels across the geosciences.

“Finally, no citation for Dottie would be complete without some mention of ‘Geology Goes Hollywood’ I and II, two wonderful videos that depict the influence of the geosciences on our culture and society. With the help of her talented family, the local video store, and a tape-editing machine, Dottie has given us insights into how Hollywood uses the grandeur of places like Monument Valley, the Alps, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon to develop its stories and mesmerize its audiences. Earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, and raging floods are present in abundance in these videos, and we in the geoscience and education communities have delighted at seeing our favorite Earth processes on the big screen while laughing outright at the scientific implausibility of some of the depicted events. What is most telling about these videos is that they truly represent what Dottie is all about: a person who loves the geosciences and loves to teach, a person who will go the extra mile and take the extra time to make sure that everyone understands why Earth is such an amazing place to live.”

—EDWARD E. GEARY, Colorado State University, Boulder


Our challenge.

“Geologist Clarence Hall, the former Dean of Physical Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles once stated: ‘The terms and circumstances of human existence can be expected to change radically during the next human life span. Science, mathematics, and technology will beat the center of that change-causing it, shaping it, responding to it. Therefore, they will be essential to the education of today’s children for tomorrow’s world.’

“Geologist Frank Press, former President of the National Academy of Sciences, saw this challenge as an opportunity for geosciences when he stated that: ‘The higher expectations of the decade will present geoscience teachers with challenges that most present courses are unable to meet and offer them opportunities to be in the vanguard of education reform.’

“The advances made by geoscientists in our understanding of the Earth is mind-boggling, even to those well versed in science and technology. While research is critically important, it is also critical to transfer our wealth of knowledge beyond the immediate research community. To accomplish this, we need to involve scientists in the process of translating their research in an understandable way to students, teachers, and the general public-where its effects can ripple throughout our society. It has been my own personal passion to beat the drum (and maybe even bang some heads!) to encourage more scientists to become aware of their obligation and responsibility in education at multiple levels. This does not mean that researchers must become expert educators. But it does mean fostering collaborations between researchers and educators in order to get the point across. These relationships are not just incredibly rewarding, they are integral.

“My objective is to motivate all of you, all of us, to continue-or start if you haven’t-on this path of integrating research and education. Look around you for the people who realize that students, teachers, and the general public need to understand science and technology. To be successful, this effort takes dedicated people and programs. For example, I want to acknowledge my colleagues at the National Science Foundation and the programs within the Division of Undergraduate Education that promote linkages between research and education. But there is room to do a lot more.

“My own involvement in education and the geosciences as a profession continues to be both amazing and rewarding. Throughout my career, I have been inspired and touched by dedicated researchers, exceptional teachers, and those unique individuals that can do it all. Thank you for educating me. More importantly, thank you for making this amazing field of ours available to everyone. Specifically, I would like to thank those who have shared their enthusiasm and commitment to advancing geoscience education throughout my entire experience: from teachers in South Amherst, Ohio, to my mentors at Bowling Green State University, to my colleagues at Cypress College and NSF.

“We still have some heavy lifting to do, but the tectonic forces are in motion. I want to thank my family for all of their support over the years. Finally, I’d like to share with you a poem from Yeats. One that has provided inspiration for me both as a teacher and personally:

‘Had I the heavens’, embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with gold and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night ant light and half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet,
But I being poor, have only my dreams,
I have spread my dreams under your feet,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.’

“I hope that all of you can share in my own dream of spreading the joys of geoscience to all….

“A message to students everywhere. ‘You may become the president of the United States with a C average, but if you want to be a good scientist, you’ll have to do better than that.’”

—DOROTHY L. STOUT, Whittier, Calif.

David W. Mogk was awarded the 2000 Excellence In Geophysical Education Award at the AGU Spring Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held on June 2, 2000, in Washington, D.C. The award acknowledges a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.



“David W. Mogk is one of the most energetic leaders in the geosciences today. One should be careful when signing on to work with someone who runs marathon-length races over mountain ranges with no trail Dave’s work in the classroom, community, professional societies, and the National Science Foundation has had a major impact on science education in this country. His accomplishments range from implementation of lecture-free learning and alternative assessments in his own classroom to mentoring junior faculty, to major advisory roles in systemic K-12 science education reform, to leadership in establishing the geosciences as a central player in science education. You can do a lot with the stamina gained from running ridges.

“Dave is both a leader and a visionary in geoscience education. In 1995, Dave became the first geoscientist in the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF). His energy and vision brought a geoscience perspective to a large array of programs while substantially increasing the visibility of geosciences in the division. He has also served in leadership roles in other geoscience organizations. Dave’s most far-reaching accomplishment to date has been marshaling representatives from the entire geoscience educational community to formulate a unified vision of Earth science education. Recognizing that the Earth sciences could not play a central role in science education if they did not work together as a group, Dave urged the AGU to draw together educators from all of the disciplines in its membership to craft a vision for the future of undergraduate Earth science education. The resulting report, published in 1997 and titled Shaping the Future of Undergraduate Earth Science Education–Innovation and Change Through an Earth System Approach, has influenced changes on scales from individual classrooms to nationwide programs.

“A major outcome of the Shaping the Future report is the newly founded Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE). This community-based effort is bringing together those involved in geoscience education at all levels–K-12, undergraduate, and beyond–to build a digital resource in support of learning about the Earth. The recommendations of Shaping the Future and the bridges between DUE and the Geosciences Directorate (GEO) established when Dave served at NSF were fundamental to initiating this effort. As might be expected, Dave has been involved from the outset, coauthoring the first paper describing the library, helping with a workshop process to develop a community vision of the library, editing the DLESE Community Plan, and hosting the first annual DLESE Community Meeting.

“Equal in importance to Dave’s vision are his efforts to assist faculty in implementing effective teaching practices. John Brady, co-organizer of the Teaching Mineralogy workshop held in 1995, notes that Dave ‘was the moving force behind the whole project.’ This workshop had a major impact in changing instruction in mineralogy, one of the most criticized courses in the geology curriculum. Dave has been a Distinguished Speaker for the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) and is a leader in the NAGT Workshops for Early Career Faculty. In light of the expanded role for Earth science education recommended by the National Science Education Standards, Dave has been particularly concerned that the geoscience community provide high-quality instruction for future teachers and has worked closely with the Montana Collaborative for Excellence in Teacher Preparation.

“Dave leads by example. His teaching skills have been recognized by Montana State University with two awards. He has effectively implemented field experiences, service learning, inquiry-based instruction, computer-assisted learning, and alternate assessment in his courses. To bring inquiry-based instruction using modern analytical techniques to his mineralogy and petrology students, Dave raised funds and installed both standard analytical equipment for the geosciences and a highly sophisticated laboratory in conjunction with the Chemistry Department. “A summary of Dave’s accomplishments would not be complete without mention of the role model he presents for students and colleagues. Dave is an exciting leader at the same time that he is an excellent collaborator. He is dedicated to both scientific research and education and has served tirelessly as a volunteer for the good of these communities. He is an outstanding teacher and a friend to all. We congratulate him on receiving the AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Award.”

—R. HEATHER MACDONALD and CATHRYN A. MANDUCA, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va., USA; Carleton College, Northfield, Minn


“It is with heartfelt thanks that I accept the American Geophysical Union Award for Excellence in Geophysical Education. Education, in a broad sense, is at the core of all of our professional activities—in our publications and presentations at national meetings, on our field trips and at short courses, in formal classroom settings, and through informal communications in the public discourse. Education adds value to the scientific enterprise through the sharing of new discoveries and new knowledge with broader audiences, it serves to prepare the next generation of scientists, and it informs a skeptical public about the relevance of the products of our scientific investigations. Education is essential to the health and well-being of our community of geoscientists.

“I’d like to thank the geosciences community for its support of my own efforts on behalf of geoscience education. As I reflect on my career path, I’m thankful for the investment that this community has made in my professional development, and I’m thankful that I’ve been able to return some of that investment with interest. In particular, for so many diverse opportunities, I’d like to thank my parents, who took me on hikes and let me fill my pockets with stones; my middle school science teacher, Jim Ireton, who let me use the lapidary equipment before class; high school teacher, Jack Edwards, who first let me actually do science; my mentors at the University of Michigan, Don Peacor, Eric Essene, and Rob van der Voo, who provided the fundamentals; advisors at the University of Washington, Bernard Evans, Stu McCallum, and Tony Irving, who further helped me along the path of scientific discovery; colleagues at Montana State University, Bill Locke and Steve Custer, who helped me experiment with new classroom activities; and my students for their forbearance as these experiments unfolded. Most important, with respect to this award, thanks to my colleagues in geoscience education, Heather Macdonald, Barb Tewksbury, Ed Geary, Frank Ireton, and Ed Mathez—each continues to help me learn more about learning. I have had the good fortune of working at NSF with Mike Mayhew and Dottie Stout, who have enabled new opportunities for geoscience education. The two most important contributions I’ve made to geoscience education, Shaping the Future of Undergraduate Earth Science Education, and now the Digital Library for Earth Science Education, simply could not have been done without the shared vision, energy, and support of my coconspirator and partner, Cathryn Manduca, and to her I am especially grateful. And finally, thanks to my children, Dylan and Emily, who keep me young, and to my wife, Gwendy Stuart, for her patient understanding.

“The activities in geoscience education that I’ve engaged toward earning this award have really been a community effort. And the best is yet to come! I am indebted to the many friends and colleagues who have made so many contributions along the way. On their behalf, I proudly accept the AGU Award for Excellence in Geophysical Education.”

—DAVID MOGK, Montana State University, Bozeman

George M. Hornberger was awarded the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the AGU Spring Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held on June 2, 1999, in Boston, Massachusetts. The award acknowledges a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.



“I met George Hornberger in the autumn of 1970 when, in my last year as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, I enrolled in his first course in hydrology in the newly fledged Department of Environmental Sciences. George was one of a bumper crop of faculty with new Ph.D. degrees hired by the university to make this department a reality. Little did anyone know then the influence that he would have on the department, the university, and ultimately thousands of students—both undergraduate and graduate—in the geophysical sciences.

“The development of the Department of Environmental Sciences was an ambitious project, as it was one of the earliest of its kind in the United States. There were no blueprints to follow, and there were the real challenges of developing new courses, adding new faculty, blending the skills and interests of the new faculty with those of the old, and building coherent and productive programs of education in both the undergraduate and graduate realms. In George Hornberger, the department and the students of the University of Virginia found an anchor of skill, enthusiasm, reason, and grace to meet all of these challenges. Students soon came to appreciate the clarity of his lectures. They quickly realized the value and quality of his courses and seminars, which introduced them to prominent questions and areas of research in the forefront of the geophysical sciences as well as to quantitative skills they would need for the rest of their careers. Graduate students also quickly realized that George’s skills as a clear thinker and highly organized researcher were exactly what they wanted either in a major professor or on their graduate committee. Soon he became (and today he remains) in the highest demand for those positions. Lucky students, and they have been many, because his interests span many areas and because he always is there to help, get him on their graduate committees; the luckiest ones get him for their major professor.

“Regardless of the de jure position George occupies on one’s graduate committee, his de facto position often is that of major professor for geophysical aspects, navigator of logical approaches to research, and advisor in the solution of all seemingly impenetrable problems. In the course of nearly every graduate student’s work, there comes a question that seems virtually insoluble. Many a student has trudged head down, feeling defeated, into George Hornberger’s office and after a highly focused discussion, emerged with spring in their step realizing that not only did the problem apparently have an answer, they now understood how to find it for themselves!

“Throughout his tenure, George’s teaching has opened doors to the future for countless students, graduate and undergraduate alike, who have craved quality and relevance in their education. His cross-disciplinary collaborations in the department have served, through their generation of graduate seminars and thesis and dissertation topics, to create new and wonderful learning opportunities for graduate students at all levels. Moreover, for a new department just finding its way, they set an early and crucial standard in collaborative research and teaching. George showed other faculty, either set in their ways of selective specialty or grappling with an introduction to teaching at a major university, what could be done by reaching out and integrating skills. He showed graduate students that integrative studies in the geophysical sciences were not just some hopeful hypothesis, not just some buzzword in a department with a new and funny name, but instead a pathway to an exciting and productive professional future.

“George has served the cause of geophysical education not only through his teaching, mentoring, and service within the University of Virginia, but through careful editorial guidance of key geophysical journals as well as leadership in developing Chapman and Gordon Conferences in the geosciences. He also has made very important contributions both with his coauthorship of the classic 1971 text Numerical Methods in Subsurface Hydrology and as lead author on the recently released Elements of Physical Hydrology, sure to become a classic in its own right.

“George has served his university, the American Geophysical Union, and the geophysical sciences through a wide range of participation and leadership on numerous national committees and has brought distinction to an impressive array of awards from a variety of professional societies and organizations. If, however, you ask the students whose lives he has touched you will find them to a person remarking to the effect ‘. . . but he is so much more than that. He is a teacher, a counselor, a mentor, someone who has shown us what could be done and how we can learn how to do it.’

“Just ask his students and associates, they know: George Hornberger is an example of absolutely the best that geophysical education has to offer.”

—M. ROBBINS CHURCH, NHEERL, U.S. EPA, Corvallis, Oregon


“Thank you, Robbins. For someone whose professional life revolves around working with students, this is indeed a very special award. I decided long ago that, like many of my colleagues, I love my job mainly because what it entails is learning about new things: exploring new ways to think about problems and new ways to solve puzzles. For those of us in academe, our companions on these journeys of intellectual exploration are the students with whom we are fortunate to work. If the common view is that professors disburse knowledge and students gather it up, then the common view is incorrect. The truth is that we learn together, each gaining from the other. It is thus fitting that on receipt of the AGU Excellence in Geophysical Education Award I should take the opportunity to thank publicly the many students who have instructed me throughout my career.

“When I am called on to be an advisor to first-year undergraduate students at the University of Virginia, I often am amused that some of them insist that they must plan their entire career (even their lives!), starting with the selection of their courses for that first semester. I can’t resist telling them that my own view is that life is rather more stochastic than they might wish and my advice is to be open to new learning experiences and to follow their interests as they evolve, whether the evolution is smooth or in a series of punctuated equilibria. In my case, the stochastic perturbation that took me into hydrology came in the person of Irwin Remson. One course taken from Irwin was enough to convince me that if a field attracted people like him, then that was the field for me. I had the good fortune to have Irwin as my graduate advisor. Even though it was almost 30 years ago that I completed my Ph.D. with Irwin, I can picture with clarity visits to his office to discuss my work and to get reinvigorated with a solid dose of enthusiasm. Irwin had the ultimate ‘open-door’ policy: If he was in his office, he was available to meet with students. Having been lucky enough to have Irwin Remson as a mentor, one is moved to strive to emulate him.

“Since leaving Stanford University in 1970, I have been employed at the University of Virginia. The Department of Environmental Sciences has been a great professional home for me and Charlottesville has been a great personal home. Among my first faculty collaborators at Virginia was Mahlon Kelly, an aquatic ecologist. I knew essentially nothing about ecology at the time, and in retrospect I see that this collaboration was another fortunate stochastic event in my life. Mahlon and I were lucky at the time to have a group of graduate students who shared in our searches around the intersection of hydrology and ecology and who were enthusiastic participants in our many lively arguments. Among this talented group (at one time or another) were Robbins Church, Ron Cohen, Jack Cosby, Chuck Gallegos, Bill Keene, Tim Lederman, and several others. I am fortunate that the excitement of the 1970s endured for the students at Virginia and for me. Throughout the twists and turns of my career, I have enjoyed many collaborations with talented students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. I cannot possibly thank all by name; I only hope that some shadow of my gratitude is evident. My many colleagues at Virginia and elsewhere who have helped me in scientific work and who have been good friends also have my heartfelt thanks.

“As much as I owe to students and colleagues for making my job a real joy, I also must express my deep gratitude to my family: three generations worth. My parents, George V. and Olive Hornberger, celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary this year. I cannot imagine a more stable base of support than they have given me. My wife, Joan, has been, is, and always will be the love of my life. My children, Rachel and George Z., have graduated from just being offspring to being our best friends as well. Thank you.”

—GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, University of Virginia, Charlottesville

Robert D. Ballard was awarded the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held on December 10, 1997, in San Francisco, California. The award recognizes a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education.



“One of my first tasks when I arrived in the United States in 1974 as a new faculty member at the University of Rhode Island was to participate in the Ph.D. examination of Robert Ballard. This energetic and talented graduate student was already the leading veteran in the application of submersibles to the study of the ocean floor and had successfully applied the new technology in his thesis research on the New England continental shelf. Coming from the more traditional European cultural environment, I was immediately struck by Bob’s refreshing can-do approach and typical no-nonsense American attitude. We did our best to probe for weaknesses in Bob’s doctoral dissertation, but I seem to remember that towards the end of the defense, the discussion veered more and more to his involvement with Project FAMOUS that summer—the first submersible exploration of the mid-ocean ridge. With characteristic drive, Bob mounted and collaborated in a number of other deep dive expeditions, culminating in 1977 with the stunning discovery of hydrothermal vents on the Galapagos Rift, a finding that is fundamental to our understanding of the chemical evolution of the oceans and the origin of polymetallic sulfide ore deposits.

“Inevitably, Bob realized that the tools he had helped develop in the Deep Submergence Laboratory at Woods Hole had applications far broader than Earth science. Here emerges the scientist-explorer, who has the vision to exploit the new technology to really open up the hidden secrets of the deep, which he has done particularly in the field of nautical archaeology. But Bob has continued to break the mold in more ways than one: he rapidly realized that remotely operated vehicles were faster, cheaper, and much more efficient than the manned submersibles and most important, safe. The quick succession of discoveries (Titanic, Bismarck, Lusitania, etc.) launched Ballard in orbit with Cousteau as the premier spokesman of marine science in the eyes of the general public. Gifted with charisma, and an exceptional talent for telling a story and for explaining scientific concepts to the lay person, Bob inevitably became a media phenomenon. Predictably, many of his scientific colleagues reacted with some envy to his fame and nontraditional style, but this has never deterred Bob from steering the direct course dictated by his unselfish vision. He reasoned that if you can replace the view through the tiny porthole of the submersible with a much better live image on a high-resolution monitor in the ship’s lab, then you could take this one step further and transmit the live image worldwide to allow the rest of humanity to share in the excitement of the moment of discovery on the ocean floor.

“After the Titanic discovery, Bob’s desk at Woods Hole was flooded with letters from school children posing endless questions about his work, about the new technology, and about Earth science and oceanography in general. Why not take the kids on the next expedition? After all, exploration of the unknown should ideally be done not just by the lucky few, but by all those interested in expanding their horizon of knowledge. Telepresence, as Bob is apt to call it, could bring the adventure and excitement of science and exploration into the classroom.

“Thus was launched the JASON Project, beginning with an expedition in the Mediterranean in 1989, and continuing annually ever since with resounding success. No other effort has done so much to excite youngsters about science and to stimulate their curiosity about the way in which the Earth works. Focusing annually on a specific theme (a ridge, a hot spot, etc.), Bob’s team has collaborated closely with teachers throughout North America in developing a semester-long curriculum, preparing students for participation in the 2-week-long field expedition of discovery on the seafloor or on land, in which scientists can interact with school children through telepresence, educating them about some basic principles, and conveying to them the excitement of studying science as a means to explore the Earth. The number of students reached by the JASON Project has grown steadily, from 200,000 in 1989 to over 2 million in 1997. In this manner, the JASON Project has given over 5 million young students the opportunity to participate in the study of the Earth. A tiny fraction of them may become scientists in the future, but most important, they will all carry with them and recall in later life a sense of excitement about scientific discovery and exploration.”

—HARALDUR SIGURDSSON, University of Rhode Island.


“I would like to thank the American Geophysical Union for honoring me with the Award for Excellence in Geophysical Education. This is a great honor, both for me and for the JASON Foundation for Education.

“Like AGU, we at the JASON Project are dedicated to promoting the study of Earth and its environment in space. We know that young people are our future leaders in government, industry, science, and technology. It is crucial that we instill in them a desire to learn and a hunger for knowledge, especially in science and technology. Many people fail to realize that all children are born scientists, and the first question they ask is ‘Why?’ Rather than discouraging that interest, we must support it, answer each question to the best of our abilities, and continue to encourage them even more.

“I found that interest in 1985 after I came back from discovering the Titanic. Upon my return, I received thousands of letters from school children who wanted to accompany me on my next underwater expedition. This surge of interest in science is what gave me the incentive to begin a program that would bring the thrill of scientific discovery to students worldwide, all year-round.

“Next year, the official ‘International Year of the Ocean,’ marks JASON’s ninth journey as ‘Oceans of Earth and Beyond’ plunges students to the ocean floor to study the structures of ocean water and the life they support, such as kelp forests, coral reefs, and exotic deep-sea creatures. In March 26, 1998, competitively selected students and six teachers, called ‘argonauts,’ will serve as ambassadors to all students by traveling with the JASON scientists and production team to Monterey Bay, California, USA. The argonauts help bring science to life as millions of students in classrooms around the world are transported via telepresence to the expedition site. Many students at special sites will have the opportunity to control remotely operated vehicles to help researchers gather data.

“The grandfather of all distance-learning programs, the JASON Project is the only multimedia, multidiscipline, curriculum-based scientific and technological experience with the mission of exciting and engaging students. JASON makes science and technology exciting through the use of a unique hands-on learning experience that literally takes the students to the location of the day’s lesson. Since the first JASON expedition, the program has become fully interactive, with teacher training and professional development, local field investigations, JASON Online Systems, JASON@School, the JASON Web site, and statewide and regional networks.

“My work with JASON and millions of school children has enlightened and continues to excite me. I have had the opportunity to see our future scientists, industrial leaders, and citizens at work, and I feel reassured that knowledge is giving them confidence and a perspective on how the world really works. By remaining committed to science education, all of us can contribute to the widespread confidence and success of our future leaders.”

—ROBERT D. BALLARD, Institute for Exploration, Mystic, Connecticut

Honors Contacts

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Rosa Maymi

Director, Engagement and Membership

202-777-7322 | [email protected]

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Leah Bland

Manager, Honors

202-777-7389 | [email protected]

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Hannah Hoffman

Program Manager, Fellows

[email protected]