Announcing the 2020 AGU Union Medal, Award, and Prize Recipients

Announcing the 2020 AGU Union Medal, Award, and Prize Recipients

On behalf of the Earth and space sciences community, we congratulate the 36 individuals receiving the highest honors bestowed by AGU for their excellence in scientific research, education, communication, and outreach.

Even though 2020 has been unpredictable and stressful for all of us in our personal and professional lives, now is a moment to recognize those who have pushed the frontiers of our science forward in many different areas. These honorees—scientists, leaders, educators, journalists, and communicators—have made outstanding achievements and contributions to the Earth and space sciences community. These individuals embody our shared vision of a thriving, sustainable, and equitable future for all powered by discovery, innovation, and action. These honorees have built their work with integrity, respect, diversity, and collaboration together with deep engagement in education and outreach.

We also thank these recipients’ families, friends, colleagues, and other supporters who have been and continue to be instrumental to their successes.

AGU will host an online celebration to formally recognize this year’s recipients during #AGU20 Fall Meeting, Wednesday, 9 December at 3:00 p.m. PT/6:00 p.m. ET/22:00 UTC. It is important that we formally recognize the outstanding work of our colleagues, even though we will not have an in-person award ceremony this year. This celebration is a chance for us all to be inspired by the accomplishments and stories of these amazing people.  We will share additional details on the event at

Finally, we are grateful to the Honors and Recognition Committee, the selection committees, nominators, nomination supporters, volunteers, and staff for their support and commitment to AGU’s Honors Program.

Please join us in congratulating our esteemed class of 2020 Union honorees.

—Robin Bell, President, AGU; and LaToya Myles ([email protected]), Chair, Honors and Recognition Committee, AGU


William Bowie Medal
Rita Colwell, University of Maryland

James B. Macelwane Medal
Kyle C. Armour, University of Washington
Sarah M. Hörst, Johns Hopkins University
Brandon Schmandt, University of New Mexico
Yoshihide Wada, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Kelly Wrighton, Colorado State University

John Adam Fleming Medal
Tamas I. Gombosi, University of Michigan

Walter H. Bucher Medal
Susan L. Beck, University of Arizona

Maurice Ewing Medal
Anthony Brian Watts, University of Oxford

Robert E. Horton Medal
Rien van Genuchten, Federal University of Rio de Janiero

Harry H. Hess Medal
Donald Bruce Dingwell, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Roger Revelle Medal
Claire L. Parkinson, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Inge Lehmann Medal
Peter M. Shearer, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

Charles A. Whitten Medal
Kristine M. Larson, University of Colorado Boulder

Joanne Simpson Medal for Mid-Career Scientists
Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, University of California, Merced
Marie Edmonds, Cambridge University
Isabella Velicogna, University of California, Irvine

Devendra Lal Memorial Medal
Subimal Ghosh, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay


Ambassador Award
Karletta Chief (Diné), University of Arizona
Kaveh Madani, Yale University and Imperial College London
Martha E. Maiden, Self-Employed Consultant
Erika Marin-Spiotta, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Gerald R. North, Texas A&M University

Edward A. Flinn III Award
Barbara L. Giles, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

William Kaula Award
Noah Diffenbaugh, Stanford University

Waldo E. Smith Award
Therese Moretto Jorgensen, SciencePrime, LLC

Charles S. Falkenberg Award
Ved Chirayath, NASA Ames Research Center

International Award
Faisal Hossain, University of Washington

Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award
Sheri Klug Boonstra, Arizona State University

Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth Science
Ameha Atnafu Muluneh, Addis Ababa University

Africa Award for Research Excellence in Space Science
Olawale S. Bolaji, University of Lagos

Science for Solutions Award
Mette Bendixen, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder

Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism – Features
Joshua Sokol, Freelance Writer

David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Journalism – News
Maya Wei-Haas, National Geographic


Asahiko Taira International Scientific Ocean Drilling Research Prize
Rob Mckay, Victoria University of Wellington

Climate Communication Prize
Jennifer Ann Francis, Woodwell Climate Research Center

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