Student and Early Career Member Spotlight

Science and Society is excited to feature the work of our student and early career members. If you would like us to highlight your work (or know someone who should be highlighted), please fill out our survey and we'll be in touch.

June 2022: Meet the AGU 21 OSPA Winners

Get to know a bit more about the 2021 winners of the Science and Society Outstanding Student Presentation Awards (OSPA).

Morgan DiCarlo

Name: Morgan DiCarlo
Contact: morgan.dicarlo[at]gmail[dot]com
Affiliation: North Carolina State University
PhD Candidate 
Links: Website and TEDx Talk
Tell us about your science and society experiences: I am a civil engineer and PhD candidate in the sociotechnical systems analysis lab at NC State. My research integrates people’s decision-making processes with information from large, technical datasets to gain operational insights about how to manage water hazards, such as floods and pipe failures. My first project involved collaborating with local communities and the volunteer rescue organization Cajun Navy to collect resident’s social media behaviors during hurricane Florence and develop a sociotechnical model in Python that simulates individually led efforts to seek and provide hurricane assistance. These outcomes are published in the journals of Smart Cities and Sustainable Cities and Societies. Currently, my research works with a water utility in North Carolina data to better understand trends in water use from smart meter data. Additionally, I developed a national survey to collect data on customer complaint management practices from more than 500 water utilities. I am very passionate about science communication, including founding a curriculum to introduce girls to civil engineering and serving as an American Geophysical Union’s Voices for Science Policy fellow.

Robby Goldman

Name: Robert ("Robby") Goldman
Contact: rgoldma3[at]illinois[dot]edu
Affiliation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (PhD Candidate); U.S. Geological Survey, Volcano Science Center (NSF Graduate Research Intern)
NSF Graduate Research Fellow
Tell us about your science and society experiences: As an alumnus of a liberal arts institution (Pomona College), I have an innate curiosity for learning and exploring a variety of subjects. Accordingly, I have pursued an interdisciplinary PhD program in both geology and the social sciences, with the support of my National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. My current research explores two distinct aspects of volcano hazard mitigation: understanding the behavior of large basaltic shield volcanoes and identifying successful in-person and social media public communication strategies for volcanologists during eruption crises (more information can be found here). I first became involved with AGU’s Science and Society section through AGU’s Voices for Science program in 2018 (more information can be found here), where I learned how to build relationships with local, state and federal policymakers to encourage the legislation and enactment of policies either supporting scientific research or guided by scientific knowledge. After completing my PhD next year, I plan to continue conducting research at the intersection of science and society and providing guidance for a variety of stakeholders involved with hazard mitigation, public policy, information systems and/or human behavior.

December 2021: Meet the AGU 20 OSPA Winners

Get to know a bit more about the 2020 winners of the Science and Society Outstanding Student Presentation Awards (OSPA).

Chris Jadallah

Name: Chris Jadallah
Contact: ccjadallah[at]
Affiliation: University of California, Davis, School of Education
PhD Candidate and NSF Graduate Research Fellow
Tell us about your science and society experiences: As a learning scientist, I study how biophysical scientists, conservation professionals, and broader publics learn from each other through joint participation in collaborative and community-based approaches to scientific research. Drawing primarily on ethnographic and participatory methodologies, my current research specifically examines the knowledge co-production processes that occur through these initiatives as they relate to dam removal and watershed restoration efforts at multiple sites throughout the Western United States, with special attention to how power asymmetries between groups structure and mediate opportunities for community participation and engagement. Practitioner resources on this topic created with colleagues at the UC Davis Center for Community and Citizen Science can be found here. Ultimately, my work carries the dual goals of honoring and leveraging the expertise found within communities as an important resource for environmental problem-solving, as well as informing the design of collaborative learning environments that value multiple knowledge systems to cultivate just, resilient, and thriving social-ecological futures.

Rachel Lamb

Name: Rachel Lamb
Contact: rachlamb[at]
Affiliation: University of Maryland, College Park; Maryland Department of the Environment
Post-Doctoral Associate; Maryland Sea Grant State Science Policy Fellow
Tell us about your science and society experiences: I am a geographer with a long-time interest in improving connections between science and policy. Using high-resolution forest carbon sequestration data, my doctoral research focused on advancing strategic reforestation in support of climate mitigation and other social and environmental goals alongside member states of U.S. Climate Alliance and partners at NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System. In this work, I focused on the potential applications of this new science to state climate action planning and the design and implementation of tree planting commitments. I continue to lead a project looking at how this same forest carbon science could be used to advance climate action planning and monitoring among universities, especially those with land-grant designations. As a Maryland Sea Grant State Science Policy Fellow, I currently work with the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Climate Change Program to advance coordination and integration of carbon sequestration science within the State’s climate action plan, greenhouse gas inventory, and other relevant climate policies. I focus specifically on natural and working lands, including forests and blue carbon ecosystems such as tidal salt marshes. More details about my recent work can be found here, here, here, and here.

Vinicius Perin

Name: Vinicius Perin
Contact: vperin[at] |
Affiliation: Center for Geospatial Analytics, North Carolina State University
PhD student
Tell us about your science and society experiences: I am a geospatial scientist with a background in agronomy, geography, and environmental science. As part of my PhD work, I am investigating how on-farm reservoirs are impacting surface hydrology. The freshwater stored by these reservoirs is essential to global irrigation. Farmers use on-farm reservoirs to store water during the wet season for crop irrigation during the dry season. There are more than 2.6 million on-farm reservoirs in the US alone. Despite their importance for irrigating crops, reservoirs can contribute to downstream water stress by decreasing stream discharge and peak flow in the watersheds where they are built, thereby exacerbating water stress intensified by climate change and population growth. We are developing methods and algorithms to leverage a multi-sensor satellite imagery approach to improve on-farm reservoir monitoring, with the aim of supporting more efficient management of the reservoirs and mitigation of their downstream impacts. Upon successful implementation, this study can help policymakers and water authorities further understand the on-farm reservoirs’ water storage changes in space and time. Therefore, this study has the potential to enhance water conservation plans by allowing better assessment and management of water quantity. The last two years of my PhD will be funded by NASA through the Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology fellowship. More information on this project can be found here (including related publications).

Maro Pontiki

Name: Maro Pontiki
Contact: mpontiki[at]
Affiliation: University of Delaware
Graduate Research Assistant
Tell us about your science and society experiences: I am a Ph.D. candidate in Civil Engineering and my research investigates the response of natural flood defense systems to extreme events. I designed two laboratory experiments and, in the summer of 2019, I scaled and constructed dunes from Mantoloking, N.J., at O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Lab, OR, in collaboration with scientists from Texas A&M and Oregon State University. We discretized a segment of Hurricane Sandy recorded between October 29-30 in 2012 in smaller test intervals and examined the impact of the waves and the rising water levels on the beach profiles. These near-prototype physical models allowed circumvention of challenges involved in intra-storm field surveys and provided high-quality data across the dune structures. I analyze the collected records to identify the fundamental hydrodynamic and morphodynamic processes that lead to dune erosion. My overarching objective is to develop a fragility framework to assess the failure probabilities of dunes and improve risk-based decisions for coastal infrastructure damage. I am excited to make all the datasets accessible to the public as they will be an asset for coastal managers and engineers to evaluate the socioeconomic impacts of hurricane-induced coastal inundations. This research effort is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1756714, 1756477, 1756449.

July 2021: Art @ the Science

We invite ARTISTS and CREATIVES both at the AGU 2021 Fall Meeting and in the periphery to experience the science presented at the conference and to gain inspiration for new works or recall related works they have already created. 

Promoting wider sharing and openness, ideas that are celebrated in the arts and design communities, has inspired us to launch AGU Art @ the Science. This collaborative initiative is a new provocative way of engaging media and art to accompany and enrich science. A coalition of the Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (Leonardo/ISAST), the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences (CPNAS), and Flourishing Salons are working with scientists and artists worldwide to create a model for engaging artists through scientific conferences and facilitating the convergence of art and science.  

Art @ the Science is a model for engaging creatives through scientific conferences and for facilitating the convergence of art and science, via a social media campaign by creatives posting their works related and in response to the science at the conference. It creates the space, through "living documents," for exchange between the creatives and the scientists and weaves connections along the way. The model recognizes the opportunity of social media to be a different medium of exchange, one outside of the conference meeting rooms where the preconceptions and mindsets are different and perhaps a forum for new discourse. We are in the early stages of planning an in-person event for the AGU 2021 Fall Meeting and welcome your contribution. Please reach out to the Flourishing Salons to learn more, become involved, or to bring this concept to a scientific conference that you will be attending (ryan.mcgranaghan[at]gmail[dot]com).

  • Ryan McGranaghan
    Principal Data Scientist, ASTRA LLC
  • Clio Flego
    Digital Content Curator, Art @ the Science
  • Danielle Siembieda
    Managing/Creative Director, Leonardo/ISAST
  • Kathryn Semmens
    Science Director, Nurture Nature Center
    Art and Science Track Lead, AGU Science and Society Section

July 2020: Sarah Alexander


Institution: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Position: Graduate Research Assistant
Contact Info:
Tell us about your science and society experiences: Communities worldwide suffer from variabilities in climate, such as drought or flood. These variations threaten livelihoods, creating food and water insecurity, and prompting public health concerns – particularly in areas with a single rainy season. Scientists have developed ‘seasonal climate forecasts,’ or ways to predict in advance the climate conditions expected the following season (wet or dry), which may assist farmers’ agricultural decisions. Yet, this information is under-utilized. Our research uses multiple methods from engineering, science communication, and sociology to develop a way to communicate climate information to farmers in Ethiopia for integration to decision-making. By engaging directly with our target audience, we developed a highly visual forecast bulletin and public engagement sessions to help potential users understand seasonal climate forecasts. This novel approach bridges the gap between scientific forecast development and integration to decision-making for increased resilience, food, and water security for communities vulnerable to climate variability. This work is part of an NSF PIRE project. More details about my work can also be found at the Water Systems and Society Research group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.