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Waldo E. Smith Award
Updates to Union Medals, Awards and Prizes Program
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Career Stage
Award Type
Union Award
Of Note
Presented biennially in even-numbered years;
Peer nomination OR self-nomination permitted
Established 2012

Recognizing Senior Scientists for their Service to Earth and Space Science

The Waldo E. Smith Award is an award given biennially in even numbered years to a senior scientist in recognition of extraordinary service to Earth and space science. Successful candidates have strengthened and helped advance our scientific disciplines, as well as played unique leadership roles in scientific associations, education, legislation, research, management, philanthropy, or the public understanding of science.

Originally established in 1982 as the Waldo E. Smith Medal, it was reclassified as the Waldo E. Smith Award in 2012. Waldo E. Smith, a specialist in hydrology and civil engineering, became the first AGU Executive Secretary (and later, Executive Director) in 1944 and served in that capacity for 26 years. Under his leadership, AGU launched new scientific journals and Smith helped guide the careers of many young geophysicists. As Executive Director Emeritus, Smith became the first recipient of his namesake medal.

Honor Benefits
Recipients receive the following:

  • An engraved award
  • Recognition at AGU's annual meeting the year the honor is awarded
  • Two complimentary tickets to the Honors Banquet at AGU's annual meeting the year the honor is awarded

Criteria for a Successful Nomination

Nominees are evaluated on the following:
  • The quality and impact of the nominee’s work on their field.
  • The extent to which the nominee’s work reaches a broad or traditionally underrepresented audience.
  • The originality/innovative nature of the nominee’s work.


The nominee must be an experienced senior scientist who is an established leader in their field.
Nominators/co-nominators must be active AGU members.
All Parties
Must be in compliance with AGU's conflict of interest and professional conduct policies.
Read AGU's Ethics Policies