Early Career Achievement Award

Early Career Achievement Award

The Near-Surface Geophysics Early Career Achievement Award is given annually and recognizes significant contributions to the field of near-surface geophysics by an early career researcher. The award has been given since 2020. Below you can find some information on the outstanding early-career near-surface geophysicists that received this award.

Awardee 2020: Anja Klotzsche (Forschungszentrum Jülich, University of Cologne)

In 2020, Anja Klotzsche was the inaugural winner of the AGU Near-Surface Geophysics Early Career Achievement Award. Anja contributed significantly to the Near Surface Geophysics community by combining theoretical methods development with meticulous and creative applications to a range of geological, hydrogeological, and biogeological problems. She has been on the forefront of developing cross-borehole ground-penetrating radar (GPR) data analysis from ray tracing into full-waveform inversion. Full-waveform inversion offers significantly higher resolution, facilitating a decimeter-scale resolution of the subsurface that opens the door to a range of problems waiting to be solved. Using her developments in this field, Anja addressed questions related to flow in porous media, peatland processes, agricultural monitoring, Mars analogue soils, and more. Anja’s commitment to mentor young scientists is also shown by her co-supervision of 11 Ph.D. students and nine M.S. students. On top of her exceptional collaborations and mentoring, she has been a steady and active contributor to the near-surface geophysics community, within both AGU and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. Her impact is a testament to her remarkable ability to solve both theoretical and practical problems and to collaborate productively with investigators from around the globe.

Anja received a PhD from RWTH Aachen in 2013, and is currently a research scientist at the Forschungszentrum Julich, and she holds a professorship in hydrogeophysics at the University of Cologne.

Awardee 2021: Ryan Smith (Missouri University of Science and Technology)

In 2021, Ryan Smith was the winner of the AGU Near-Surface Geophysics Early Career Achievement Award. Ryan’s work is at the intersection of satellite, airborne and ground-based geophysics. It deals with developing new models that can better integrate these datasets to improve understanding of groundwater systems. In particular, Ryan’s work has been instrumental at integrating InSAR data with ground-based and airborne geophysics. Ryan’s work is both fundamental and applied in nature. Ryan has a passion for developing novel scientific methods that better enable the sustainable use of groundwater, including improved monitoring of groundwater use and storage, as well as improved modeling of fluxes into the groundwater system. Its relevance to groundwater availability has led to a number of collaborations with local water agencies and management districts, including in Arizona, Utah, California, Colorado and Mississippi, where this research can help support groundwater sustainability plans. Ryan is also passionate about mentoring young scientists. As an early-career assistant professor, he is mentoring one postdoctoral scholar, three PhD students and three MS students.

Ryan received a PhD from Stanford University in Geophysics in 2018. The same year, he took the role that he has currently as Assistant Professor in Geological Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Ryan’s research is funded by NASA, NGA, USGS, NIH and NSF. He was awarded the NGA New Investigator Proposal in 2020. As a graduate student, he was awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and the Outstanding Thesis Award from the Geophysics Department at Stanford University. Ryan serves as an Associate Editor for Hydrogeology Journal, and as a Guest Editor for Remote Sensing in Earth Systems Sciences.

Awardee 2022: Sebastian Uhlemann (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Sebastian Uhlemann received the AGU Near-Surface Geophysics Early Career Achievement Award in 2022. His work integrates near surface geophysical methods with hydro-geomechanical data and models to address a range of environmental problems. Sebastian has established himself as an authority on geophysical monitoring of natural environmental processes. The focus of Sebastian’s Ph.D. at ETH Zurich and the British Geological Survey was geoelectrical monitoring of moisture-driven processes in natural and engineered slopes. He explored, for the first time, true 4D imaging of moisture dynamics in unstable hillslopes. His Ph.D. led to the publication of numerous papers, the collection of which offers new insight into using near-surface geophysical methods to quantify hydrological and geomechanical states within a hillslope, and thus, ultimately, offering some means of forewarning slope failure. Not satisfied with this alone as a challenge, during his Ph.D., Sebastian also took the lead on several other areas of near-surface geophysics research, including the characterization of riparian wetlands using time-lapse methods and aquifer vulnerability mapping in Cambodia, the latter providing crucial information to allow the interpretation of geochemical data related to the widespread arsenic contamination problem in the region. His move to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher allowed him to expand his portfolio in using geophysics, examining, for example, permafrost degradation, groundwater recharge, and plant-soil-water interaction. His 2021 transitional permafrost paper reveals how near-surface geophysics can be used to illuminate, not just support. Some of his very recent work explored the integration of near-surface geophysics and other data sources to reveal, at the watershed scale, how topographic features and subsurface properties are interrelated. As a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Sebastian continued to develop environmental monitoring solutions using near surface geophysics and wireless sensor networks.

Sebastian’s activities also include significant community service, including associate editor and guest editor roles, along with membership on AGU’s Near-Surface Geophysics Executive and Hydrogeophysics Technical committees. Two years ago he was appointed Visiting Professor at Amrita University in India. Coupled to this, he has provided support to the United Kingdom’s Groundwater Relief charity and is working on humanitarian aspects of near-surface geophysics.  (Read the full citation by Andrew Binley here)

Awardee 2023: Adam Mangel (Haley & Aldrich, Inc.)

In 2023, Adam Mangel was the recipient of the AGU Near Surface Geophysics Early Career Achievement Award. Adam has made important and diverse scientific contributions to near-surface geophysics that span vadose zone dynamics, remediation monitoring, ground-penetrating radar (GPR), and drone-based geophysics. Adam is also a generous contributor to the near-surface community—through mentoring, editorial service, leadership roles, and service on committees for multiple societies. Adam’s doctoral research at Clemson University produced important contributions using GPR to monitor unsaturated flow dynamics; this work included advances spanning experimental, theoretical, and inverse methodology. He automated GPR data acquisition, advanced reflection imaging, and demonstrated that GPR can resolve infiltration and reveal new understanding of flow dynamics and spatial variability. From this work, Adam published papers in top hydrologic and geophysical journals. As a postdoctoral scientist at Colorado School of Mines, Adam continued working to bridge geophysics and hydrology, with new experimental research to monitor soil moisture and transpiration through trees. Concurrently, he pioneered a new stepped-frequency approach for full-waveform inversion of surface-based multi-offset ground-penetrating radar data. Through these experiences, Adam continued to both deepen and broaden his skill set. At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Adam brought his expertise in vadose zone characterization and monitoring to bear on problems related to soil and groundwater remediation at the Hanford Site. He led and contributed to GPR, electromagnetic (EM), and electrical geophysical investigations to assess different technologies for remediation, including soil desiccation and evapotranspiration barriers. 


Adam is well known in our community for his enthusiasm, advocacy, and generous support to students and other early-career scientists. His many service roles include work on committees for AGU, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG), and the Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society (EEGS). Adam recently served as chair of the Hydrogeophysics Technical Committee for AGU, where he led efforts to organize sessions for conferences and interaction with AGU sections and other societies. At SEG, Adam served as editor for a special hydrogeophysics section of that society’s flagship journal, Geophysics. During his graduate work, Adam served EEGS as student representative and the Clemson Chapter president. Adam is highly deserving of the AGU Near-Surface Geophysics Early Career Achievement Award in recognition of his scientific impact and many contributions to the field and community (you can find the full citation by Fred Day-Lewis here).