14 December 2015

AGU Fall Meeting 2015: Taking the Lead

Posted by Jessica Ball

imageThis year, you may have noticed I didn’t do a Social Media Roundup, and I’m not using my usual Day 1, Day 2, etc. titles. Partially, that’s because AGU has been doing a fantastic job of advertising the social media activities going on this year, and because there are now too many social-media-related sessions, talks and posters to list in one place. That’s wonderful! But I’m also changing things up because I want to convey my impressions of the Fall Meeting in a different way this year – not just a play-by-play of what’s going on, but deeper discussions of activities I’m involved in, science I care about and initiatives I think should be highlighted. A topical approach, rather than a timeline one. (That’s not to say I won’t be on Twitter enthusing about science, because I’m going to make a special effort to do that as well!)

This year, on Sunday night, I had the chance to join two great groups for discussion: Honors Committee members, and the AGU Student and Early Career Leaders.

The Honors Committee discussion was based around a few questions that have been coming up lately, which are how the demographics of Honors nominees and nominators are changing, and what to do about undersubscribed honors. In the case of the first, the numbers are encouraging – we’ve seen increases in women and international nominees, awardees and nominators. There’s still a way to go to make up for years of underrepresentation, but we’re on our way (and you’ll be seeing more about this in EOS in coming weeks).

Undersubscribed honors are something I’ve had direct experience with as the chair of the Science For Solutions Committee. You’ll notice that we’re not awarding it this year, and that’s because we didn’t have any new nominees to consider. There are probably a number of factors playing into this, but it’s disappointing for one of the only early-career awards given through AGU. I think a lot of it has to do with awareness; people simply don’t know it exists, and for those of us who are students and early-career scientists, maybe we might know it exists, but we think it’s not appropriate to put ourselves forward (totally untrue!) or that we won’t qualify, so it’s not worth it (try anyway – it doesn’t hurt!)

But that leads into the second event that I attended, which was a meeting of student and early career leaders in AGU. (#AGULeaders on Twitter, if you want to check out who’s involved.) This is the group that I expect will be helping to solve the Honors challenges and others like them, because it was full of people who are really passionate about the science that we do and all the ways that it’s growing and evolving as time passes. There are now students and early-career scientists on the AGU Council – six of them! – as well as student representatives for every section and many focus groups. They are your best resource, AGU young folks, for making sure your opinions get recognized and your ideas get realized. Have suggestions for making Fall Meeting better? Want to see how AGU can help you apply your research to societal problems? Want to get involved with science communication and advocacy? The #AGULeaders do all of that, and between us we are a fantastic resource.

It’s very easy to come to a meeting and be overwhelmed with the exciting science being presented and the myriad of people you’ll want to meet and collaborate with. But the job of a professional society is to support the values and ambitions and ideas of its members, and I know from talking to many of my peers that we have valuable insights to offer. So please, make sure you track down those of us who are wearing an AGU Leaders ribbon and tell us what you want heard. (And maybe you can snag a cool ribbon for yourself in the process. We love to get people involved…)