The Fellows program was established in 1962 and recognizes AGU members who have made exceptional contributions to Earth and space science through a breakthrough, discovery, or innovation in their field. Fellows act as external experts, capable of advising government agencies and other organizations outside the sciences upon request. The program enhances the prestige of AGU and motivates members to achieve excellence in research.

Union Fellows in Education
Cathy Mandica
Kim Kastens

2022 Education Section Evaluation Criteria for AGU Fellows Nominations

Following are the committee’s interpretations of the criteria that will be applied in evaluating AGU Fellow nominations that are review by the Education Section:

(1) Breakthrough or discovery

  • Leading contributions to geoscience education research (GER) or Scholarship on Teaching and Learning (including development of instructional materials, curriculum, or pedagogy that has had a major ongoing influence on earth and space science education beyond a single institution) and/or inclusive teaching (including high quality practice in non-traditional settings), mentoring, leadership, science communication, public outreach both inside and outside the classroom, professional development training (for example, identifying barriers and solutions for career progression, diversifying the field)

(2) Innovation in disciplinary science, cross-disciplinary science, instrument, data set, or methods development

  • Innovation in education, developing new methods to assess educational impact in and outside the classroom (lab, field, science communication, public outreach); for example, development of new evaluation and assessment of learning tools
  • Innovation in strategies to broaden participation in earth and space science, career development, and building capacity of institutions to support students of different backgrounds

(3) Sustained scientific impact

  • Development of a model program for training, educational outreach, mentoring, professional development, that has had demonstrated success (sustained impact) and has been emulated beyond a single institution; or has potential for sustainability (for more early career candidates) with impact beyond the department or one program; for example, incorporation into practices of institutional administration, development of a leading textbook, program for changing cultures, etc.

Additionally, nominees are expected to have shown exemplary leadership in following and promulgating AGU values. This leadership may include but is not limited to fostering equity, integrity, diversity, and open science; mentoring; public engagement and communication.​


Kim Kastens'  comments for AGU honors party, December 15, 2021

"I am very honored to be only the second AGU member brought into the AGU College of Fellows via the relatively new Education Section.   My most sincere thanks to the colleagues who gave birth to the education section and to my nominators.  And going back before that, thank you so much to my mentors, and collaborators, my family and friends, especially those who made the effort to come here tonight.

 What I am being honored for tonight is for research on how human beings think and learn about the Earth and environment.  I'd like to now reflect for a moment on why does this kind of research belong in the American Geophysical Union? 

 Let's think about three kinds of people (see diagram).  The classic AGU member, in the upper right, is a researcher who studies the Earth.  Many AGU members also spend at least part of their work week or year or career as educators who guide learners of various sorts to understand and think about the Earth; this activity is in the lower right.  And over here on the left, are researchers who study how people think & learn about the Earth and environment. 

I want to talk about flows of insight and information among these groups. The first flow, arrow #1 in the diagram, has been the one that I have been able to leverage in my own career.   I had the good fortune to spend 36 years at amazing Earth and oceanographic institutions, surrounded by great geo-thinkers. From that experience, I was able to identify powerful ways of thinking that are characteristic of geoscientists:  using spatial thinking and systems thinking, extracting insights from large observational data sets and from models, asking questions.  Then with colleagues, I was able craft research studies that asked how learners can work towards these same characteristic ways of thinking. 

The second flow of information and insight goes from education researchers to geoscientists while they are wearing their educator hats.  SERC, the host organization for tonight's celebration, has been a champion at fostering this flow, organizing workshops, webinars, symposia, and curriculum development efforts that bring forward useful research-derived insights.  This flow ratchets up the quality of education.

The third flow goes back from front-line educators to education researchers.  This flow ratchets up the utility of education research, by among other things informing education researchers of what is difficult to teach and where students appear to be struggling.  Without these two extrinsic flows of information, education research is at risk of wandering down lines of inquiry that are not of value to the Earth or its inhabitants.

The fourth and final flow goes back from Researchers who study how people think and learn about the Earth to Geoscience Researchers.  This flow has been a mere a trickle, but I think it has great promise.  Good PhD programs insist that their students understand how their tools work, whether those tools are side-looking sonars, or mass specs, or seismographs.  As scientists, our most important and most universal tool is the human mind.  This is the tool with which we transform our observations into to hypotheses, and our hypotheses into insights, and then communicate our insights with other people. These minds of ours have great capacity but also severe limitations and distortion-inducing biases.  This final flow has the potential to ratchet up the quality of research about the Earth by improving how geoscientists leverage the affordances of their mind while working around its limitations.  

These four flows can all a find a place within AGU.  To the extent that AGU fosters these flows, all of these enterprises will benefit, as well as the Earth herself."