UNION MEDALS, AWARDS AND PRIZES
Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth and Ocean Sciences
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Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to commonly asked questions about the Medals, Awards, & Prizes program.
Nomination Process
On the basis of their scientific backgrounds and knowledge, committee members hold confidential deliberations until an honoree is chosen. No one is selected without receiving a majority of the committee’s votes. Once an awardee, medalist or prize recipient is selected, the committee submits their recommendations to the AGU Council Leadership Team for final approval.
The selection committee recommendations to the Council Leadership Team must state the following: (1) number of candidates considered, (2) process used for reaching the decision, and (3) degree of unanimity on the decision.
In the event a committee is deadlocked, the chair will report such to the AGU Council Leadership Team. No medal, award, or prize will be given that year. Unless there are three viable nominations, the committee is not required to make a recommendation for that year.
AGU accepts self-nominations for all Union medals, awards and prizes. Nominations should be for individuals who show that they have made outstanding contributions to the Earth and space sciences.
You do not have to be a Union awardee, medalist, or prize recipient, or an AGU Fellow, to nominate a colleague.
Unless there are additional relationship conflicts that will cause disqualification (see the AGU Honors Conflict of Interest policy), only the following elected officers and appointed committee members may not submit a nomination letter or supporting letter during their term of office:

  • AGU President
  • AGU President-elect
  • Council Leadership Team
  • Honors and Recognition Committee
  • Committee members cannot submit nominations or write supporting letters for their respective Union Award, Medal or Prize, but they may submit nominations for other Union Award, Medal or Prizes.
Upon request, nominators will be provided with appropriate feedback from the respective award selection committee. If your nominee was not selected, please submit a request for feedback.
The role of the Council Leadership Team is to either accept or reject the recommendation of the selection committees on the basis of their evaluation of the process and knowledge of the candidates. The Council Leadership Team may not substitute for the committees’ choice; however, they can ask for further clarification or additional deliberation if they deem necessary.
Any AGU medalist or Ambassador awardee who was not previously an elected Fellow and has been an AGU member for three consecutive years at the time of their award, with exceptions allowed in cases of financial hardship, is automatically accorded the honor as well.
You can find lists of past winners on each award, medal, or prize page under the "Past Recipients" tab.
Selection committees are charged with selecting the recipients of their designated awards and lectures. They also promote excellence and transparency, allowing broad input and recognition beyond disciplinary awards, and diversity and equity so that awards are sufficiently representative of underrepresented groups.
In partnership with the Honors and Recognition Committee and staff, the committees also work to ensure that the program is superior in all respects, recognizes all constituents, and fosters a global network of individuals in the Earth and space sciences who epitomize excellence and cooperation in research, education, and outreach.
Committee members abide by AGU’s Honors Conflict of Interest Policy, program policies, procedures and guidelines set by AGU.
Nomination Package
AGU requests that nominators submit a “selected bibliography” that encompasses the candidate’s overall research and scientific contributions. Rather than selecting the most recent publications, nominators are encouraged to choose those that best support the argument for the AGU Union Award, Medal or Prize.
Each selected bibliography should begin by briefly stating the candidate’s total number and types of publications and specifying the number published in AGU publications. For example:
Jane Doe is the author of 92 publications, 86 in peer-reviewed scientific journals, 14 of which have been published in AGU journals and books. The following selected list best supports Jane’s nomination for the Bowie medal.
The selected bibliography should not exceed two pages in length. All incomplete or incorrect documents will be returned to the nominator for revising. Please note that the Education, International, Kaula and Spilhaus awards do not require a selected bibliography as part of the nomination process.
AGU prefers that use either (1) Calibri 11 pt. OR (2) Times New Roman 12 pt. font size for all nomination documents (i.e., selected bibliography, curriculum vitae, nominating and supporting letters). If the font size used is too small, you will be asked to revise the document.
There is a two-page limit for each required document (minimum of 11 pt. font) submitted.
If you exceed two pages for any item (i.e., nomination letter, curriculum vitae, selected bibliography, or supporting letter), the nomination package is considered incorrect. An email notification will be sent directly to the nominator requesting that the revised document(s) be electronically submitted via the submission site. Only complete packages will move forward to the committees for review. Revised documents must be received at AGU headquarters by the deadline.
Yes, both nomination letters and supporting letters should contain the author’s signature, full name, title, e-mail or telephone number, and institution affiliation. In addition, nominators and supporters are encouraged to submit letters using their institution’s letterhead. Electronic or official signatures and letterhead are acceptable. Please mail a signed copy of any letter that is submitted electronically without a signature to AGU headquarters.
Yes, the Honors Program will contact any nominator regarding incomplete or incorrect packages.
The AGU online submission system accepts .doc, .pdf, and .jpeg formatted files. If you experience difficulty, please contact us by email.
The curriculum vitae should list the candidate’s (1) name, (2) mailing and e-mail address, (3) history of employment, (4) degrees, (5) research experience, (6) honors, (7) memberships, and (8) service to the community through committee work, advisory boards, etc.
The CV should not exceed two pages in length. All incomplete or incorrect CVs will be returned to the nominator for revising.
Nomination and Supporting Letters
Nomination letters should be concise, clear, and no more than two pages in length, preferably on letterhead. The nomination should include a brief history of the candidate’s work and, should indicate which selection committee should review the package. It must include a short citation as the final sentence, which encapsulates the essence of the individual’s contributions.
A short citation is the final sentence in the nomination letter, which summarizes the essence of the individual’s contributions. Short citations should be no more than 150 characters – including punctuation and spacing. Nominators will be asked to revise any short citation that exceeds the character count, and if they do not comply, AGU staff will remove any text beyond the 150-character count (no copyediting will be provided).
Use the following format when writing a citation:
“Dr. Smith should be elected a [specify the Union award/medal/prize] for [state the essence of the scientific contributions].” An example of a citation provided for 2013 Horton medalist, Soroosh Sorooshian, by Janne Blichert-Toft is as follows:
For outstanding contributions to the modeling, measurement, and analysis of surface hydrology systems and precipitation estimation.
No, a nomination letter is submitted along with the three required supporting letters. A nominator cannot submit a letter of support in the same nomination package. The nominator is required to secure three individuals who will support the nomination.
To determine if a potential supporter is eligible to participate in nomination process, please review the Honors Conflict of Interest Policy.
The nomination and supporting letters should explicitly address the selection criteria and explain the importance of the science/accomplishments relevant to the specific award, medal, or prize.
AGU strongly recommends and prefers that all documents are submitted to headquarters by the nominator, however supporters can submit their letters to AGU online or by mail. Supporters should allow adequate time to forward their letter directly to the nominator, who is responsible for submitting the complete nomination package.
If one of three supporters are deemed ineligible to participate in the nomination process, the nominator must find an alternate supporter to write a letter of support. If no alternate supporter is located, then the nomination is considered incomplete and will not be assigned to the respective selection committee for review.
To determine if a potential supporter is eligible, please review the AGU Conflict of Interest policy.
Although it may be difficult to choose, nominators cannot exceed three letters of support in a nomination package. If more than three supporting letters are submitted, then an e-mail will be sent to the nominator requesting the names of their three supporters. If no response is received, then the Honors Program staff will randomly select three of the supporters provided to move the nomination package forward.


Contact the honors team.

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