Carl Sagan Lecture

Basic Information

The Carl Sagan Lecture honors the life and work of astronomer and astrophysicist, Carl Sagan. Trained in astronomy and biology, Sagan was a leader in establishing the field of Astrobiology and a tireless educator, author and space advocate.

This named lecture, co-sponsored by the Planetary Sciences and Biogeosciences sections, is presented annually at the AGU Fall Meeting, held in San Francisco, Calif. In even-numbered years, the Sagan Lecture is managed by the Biogeosciences section; and in odd-numbered years, it is managed by the Planetary Sciences section.

Citation/Scope Statement: The Sagan Lecture is given by a scientist who embodies Carl Sagan’s interest in astrobiology and skills in science communication.

Lecture Includes:

  • Lecture certificate
  • Announcement in Eos
  • Invitation to present the Sagan Lecture at the AGU Fall Meeting during the lecture presentation year
  • Recognition at the AGU Fall Meeting during the lecture presentation year
  • Complimentary Registration to AGU Fall Meeting
  • Complimentary ticket to the hosting section’s ticketed event at the AGU Fall Meeting during the lecture presentation year

Frequency: Presented annually.

Nomination Process & Requirements

All Section Named Lectures are not required to follow a nomination cycle process (i.e. submit a nomination package). Sections have the flexibility to adopt what process will be serve their communities in seeking their lecture recipients.

The Carl Sagan Lecture does not have a formal nomination process, the awarded lecturer is instead elected based on suggested names submitted to section leadership.

Eligible Nominees

  • Nominee must be an active AGU member

Ineligible Nominees, Nominators and Supporters

  • Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary of the AGU Biogeosciences Section
  • Sagan Lecture Committee Chair/Members
  • Self-nominations are not accepted

Eligible Nominators and Supporters

  • Open to public
  • Multiple nominators for a candidate are allowed; however it is often suggested that they collaborate so as to submit a more robust package for the nominee


The Sagan Lecture is overseen by the Planetary Sciences and Biogeosciences sections. During odd-numbered years, the Planetary Sciences section manages the Sagan Lecture; in even-numbered years, the Biogeosciences section manages the Sagan Lecture. Nominations can be submitted to Planetary Sciences Section President, Rosaly Lopes. Should you have any questions, please contact the AGU Honors Team for assistance.

Deadline: 15 April 2019

Award Committee

Chair: Rosaly Lopes, Jet Propulsion Laboroatory, California Institute of Technology

Members: TBD

Staff Liaison:

  • Artesha Moore
  • Antonio Covington

AGU’s Honors Program aligns with AGU’s mission, vision, core values and strategic plan.

Committee Charge:

  • Select the recipient of the AGU Biogeosciences Section Sagan Lecture Committee; the final decision is subject for approval of the AGU Biogeosciences Section President/Chair.
  • Interpret the scope of the award broadly and in accordance with stated purpose for the award.
  • Do not depend solely on unsolicited nominations. Although committee members are not eligible to submit nominations, they need to be proactive by encouraging nominations through committee member contacts.
  • Conform to AGU conflict of interest policies and protocols for selection committees. State, as part of the award recommendation to the AGU Biogeosciences Section President/Chair, the number of candidates considered.
  • Define an objective and fair process used for reaching the decision.
  • In addition to selecting the recipient of the AGU Biogeosciences Sagan Lecture, the Award Committee members should work with the Biogeosciences Executive Committee and Advisory Board to increase the number of nominations of viable candidates in underrepresented groups.

Timeline & Commitment
Award committee members and chairs serve a two year commitment. The work of this committee is done primarily through the online submission and review system, by telephone conference calls and email.

Below is the 2019 award year work plan timeline:

15 January 2019 Nominations Open
15 April 2019 Nominations Close
1 May - 3 June 2019 Committee work: review, deliberations and final recommendations
15 June 2019 SFG President approves committee selection
Mid to Late July 2019 Official announcement of AGU Section Award & Lecture Honorees

Past Recipients

  • 2018: Ken Caldeira
  • 2017: Jonathan I. Lunine
  • 2016: Nathalie Cabrol
  • 2015: John Johnson
  • 2014: Dawn Summer


Antonio Covington 
Program Specialist, Section Awards and Lectures
Phone: +1 202 777 7484