Union Fellows Frequently Asked Questions

The information detailed below pertains only to Union Fellows Nomination. 

Nomination Process

Nomination Letter

Curriculum Vitae

Selected Bibliography

Letters of Support

NOMINATION PROCESS

Why was the AGU Fellows program created?
Established in 1962, the Fellows program recognizes AGU members who have made exceptional contributions to Earth and space sciences as valued by their peers and vetted by a committee of Fellows. The Fellows program serves to meet the need of identifying authorities who could advise, upon request, the various government agencies and other organizations outside the Earth and space sciences. In addition, the program aims to motivate members to achieve excellence in research and thereby enhance the prestige of AGU.

Originally suggested by the AGU Executive Committee of 1960, the Membership Committee sought the counsel of “elder AGU statesmen” including Walter H. Bucher, Leason H. Adams, W. D. Lambert, Maurice Ewing, and Joseph Kaplan. The first class of elected AGU Fellows was announced in December 1962.

When will AGU begin to accept Fellows nominations? What is the submission deadline?
We will open the nomination cycle on 15 January 2018. The last day to submit a Fellows nomination will be 15 March 2018, 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

When are newly elected Fellows and their nominators notified?
Newly elected Fellows and their nominators will be notified in late-July.

When are newly elected Fellows announced?
Newly elected Fellows will be announced in Eos in late-July or early-August 2018.

When are newly elected Fellows honored?
Newly elected Fellows will be honored during the upcoming AGU Fall Meeting.

What is the criterion used to evaluate prospective AGU Fellows nominees?
Primary criteria for evaluation in scientific eminence are: (1) breakthrough or discovery; (2) innovation in disciplinary science, cross-disciplinary science, instrument development, or methods development; and/or (3) sustained scientific impact.

What, if any, eligibility requirements should be considered before submitting a Fellows nomination?
A nominee must have been an active AGU member for each of the 3 years immediately prior to the nomination. Active membership simply refers to the renewal of AGU membership for the past three consecutive years. To expand; if a member joined AGU in 2015 and has renewed his or her AGU membership, each year, through 2017, he or she is eligible for consideration during the 2018 Fellows nomination process.
A nominator must have active AGU membership at the time that the nomination package is submitted. Active membership simply refers to the renewal of AGU membership for the current nomination year cycle. If it applies, a co-nominator must also have active AGU membership at the time that the nomination package is submitted.
Supporters are not required to have active AGU membership.
There is no eligibility requirement stating that only AGU Fellows can submit nomination or supporting letters. You do not have to be an elected Fellow to submit a nomination or supporting letter. To verify the year in which a candidate joined AGU or to determine their member status, please view the Membership Directory  or contact the Member Services staff.

Can I nominate myself?
No, you cannot nominate yourself. AGU only accepts nominations and letters of support from colleagues of individuals who show that they have made outstanding contributions to the Earth and space sciences.

How many individuals can submit a Fellows nomination on behalf of a nominee?
AGU will only accept one nomination package per nominee. Multiple nominations for the same nominee are not permitted. The first nomination package submitted will be considered for eligibility. AGU staff will notify any other nominators if their nominee has already been submitted for consideration. However, if at all possible, AGU encourages multiple nominators to collaborate on one nomination package together.

Who can submit a Fellows nomination?
With the exception of those listed below as well as in the AGU Conflict of Interest policy, any active AGU member may submit a Fellows nomination on behalf of other AGU members. You do not have to be a Fellow in order to nominate a colleague. AGU policy on the relationship to a nominee is applicable to committee members, nominators, and supporters.
The following relationships need to be identified and communicated to selection committees, but do not disqualify from participating in the nomination or committee review process:

  • Current dean, departmental chair, supervisor, supervisee, laboratory director, an individual with whom one has a current business or financial relationship (e.g., business partner, employer, employee);
  • Research collaborator or co-author within the last three years; and/or
  • An individual working at the same institution or having accepted a position at the same institution.

The following individuals are disqualified from the nomination and/or committee review process:

  • A previous doctoral or graduate advisor, graduate student, or postdoctoral fellow may not write a nomination letter, but may write a supporting letter after five years of terminating their relationship with the nominee beginning on 1 January after the year the relationship was terminated. Termination of a relationship is defined as follows:
    • nominee no longer being paid by supporter
    • nominee no longer supported under the same grant or contract
  • Nominator/supporter should not be a member on the Union Fellows Committee or any Section or Focus Group Selection committee that will review the candidate(s)
  • Family member, spouse, or partner
  • President, President-elect, H&R Committee, CLT cannot nominate or support candidates.
  • Section and Focus Group presidents and president-elects cannot nominate or support Fellows candidates.

Are co-nominators permitted? If so, how many co-nominators can endorse a nominee? Is active AGU membership required for a co-nominator?
Yes, one co-nominator is permitted – but not required – per nomination package. A co-nominator simply refers to an individual who collaborates with a nominator to craft a nomination letter – endorsing the letter with her/his signature and contact information. AGU will not accept more than two signatures on a nomination letter (i.e., one nominator plus one co-nominator). A co-nominator must have active AGU membership at the time that the nomination package is submitted. Again, a co-nominator is not required for submission. If more than two signatures appear on a nomination letter (i.e., one nominator plus one co-nominator), you will be asked to revise the document. Revised documents must be received at AGU headquarters by the deadline given.

Are co-supporters permitted?
No, co-supporters are not permitted for Fellows nomination submissions. If more than one supporter’s signature appears on a letter of support, you will be asked to have the document revised. Revised documents must be received at AGU headquarters by the deadline given.

Can I submit Fellows nominations on behalf of an AGU elected officer or appointed committee member?
The following individuals and/or groups are not eligible to be Fellows candidates during their terms of service:

  • AGU President;
  • AGU President-elect;
  • Council Leadership Team (CLT) members;
  • Honors and Recognition (H&R) Committee members;
  • Union Fellows Committee members;
  • Section/Focus Group Fellows Committee members are ineligible to be candidates for consideration by their respective section/focus group; and
  • Section and Focus Group presidents and president-elects are ineligible to be Fellows candidates.

For a list of all 2015-2016 elected leaders, please review the Leadership landing page.

I am an AGU elected officer or appointed committee member. Can I submit a Fellows nomination letter or supporting letter during my term?
Unless there are additional relationship conflicts that will cause disqualification (see the AGU Conflict of Interest policy), the following elected officers and appointed committee members may submit a Fellows nomination letter or supporting letter during their term of office:

  • Board of Directors;
  • Members of Medal, Award, Prize, And Lecture Committees;
  • Section/Focus Group secretaries

For a list of all 2015-2016 elected leaders, please review the Leadership landing page.

How do I determine the nominee’s h-index?
There are various resources available that will calculate an individual’s h-index, including the Web of Knowledge, SCOPUS, and Google Scholar. To obtain accurate h-indices for nominees with common names requires following a specific procedure:

1) Search for AU=LAST I*
2) Then search by institutions
3) Then search by discipline.

After this search, review the list and eliminate any that do not belong to the nominee in order to determine the h-index. Please note that the h-index is optional and plays only a secondary role in evaluation.

What font size is acceptable for nomination materials?
For this and other formatting questions please review the Nomination Format Requirements.

What will happen if any of my documents exceed the two-page limit?
Since we receive a substantial number of submissions annually, the two-page limit for each document is strictly adhered to. Thus, if you exceed two pages for any item (i.e., nomination letter, curriculum vitae, selected bibliography, or supporting letter), the nomination package is considered incorrect. An e-mail notification will be sent directly to the nominator requesting that the revised document(s) be electronically submitted via the AGU Fellows online submission site. Only complete packages will move forward to Section/Focus Group Fellows Selection committees for review. Revised documents must be received at AGU headquarters by the deadline.

Should a nomination letter or supporting letter contain the author’s signature?
Yes, both nomination letters and supporting letters should contain the author’s signature, full name, title, e-mail or telephone number, and institution affiliation. In addition, nominators and supporters are encouraged to submit letters using their institution’s letterhead. Electronic or official signatures and letterhead are acceptable. Please mail a signed copy of any letter that is submitted electronically without a signature to AGU headquarters.

Should supporters send their letters directly to AGU or to the nominator?
AGU strongly recommends and prefers that all documents are submitted to headquarters by the nominator. Supporters should allow adequate time to forward their letter directly to the nominator, who is responsible for submitting the complete nomination package.

Will AGU contact me if my nomination package is incomplete or requires revising?
Yes, Science Department staff will contact any nominator regarding incomplete or incorrect packages. Only complete packages will move forward to the Section and Focus Group Fellows Selection committees for review. Revised documents must be received at AGU headquarters by the deadline.

How do I submit a Fellows nomination?
Fellows nominations can be submitted either online through the submission site or by regular mail delivery. However, to expedite the submission process, please use the online submission system. You do not need to send a print version if you submit the package online.

Please note that the nomination package must be complete at the time of submission. The online submission system allows nominators to make frequent updates during the submission process. Please only hit the “submit” button once your nomination is complete. Once the nomination is submitted, no additional information can be submitted online thereafter.

All online submissions must have a date stamp that occurs before or on the deadline date. Also, packages mailed by regular or courier delivery must be postmarked by the deadline date.

I plan to submit the nomination package using AGU’s online submission system. Which file formats can I use for uploading?
The AGU online submission system accepts .doc, .wpd, .pdf, and .jpeg formatted files. If you experience difficulty uploading a Fellows nomination, please contact the Program Manager.

I have successfully submitted the nomination package but would like to revise one of the documents. What should I do?
Once a nomination package is submitted online, it cannot be revised. Please do not submit your nomination unless you are certain that all materials are complete and accurate. If a nomination requires revising, then contact the Program Manager. Revised documents must be submitted to AGU headquarters by the deadline.

I nominated a candidate who, unfortunately, was not elected. Can a nomination be submitted for review again?
Yes. If your candidate is not elected a Fellow, you can nominate him or her again. However, it is recommended that updated documents be submitted for review.

I want to strengthen and resubmit my Fellows nomination package from the previous year. How do I obtain feedback regarding an unsuccessful Fellows nomination package?
Upon request, nominators will be provided with appropriate feedback from the Fellows Committee (Section, Focus Group, or Union) that considered the nomination during deliberations. If your nominee was not elected a Fellow, then please submit a request for feedback to the Program Manager.

How does the Fellows nomination process work?
Eligible nominations are forwarded to Section and Focus Group Fellows committees based on the nominee’s primary affiliation and any affiliations selected by the nominator. Committees review their respective candidates and submit to the Union Fellows Selection Committee the names of those who, in their judgment, are their best candidates from among those nominations. They are permitted to submit up to 0.2 percent of the membership of the group they represent. Thus, the Union Fellows Selection Committee receives twice the number to be elected to review, consider carefully, and make a final decision. They are supplied with the Section and Focus Group Fellows committees’ nominee rankings; recommendations from each Section and Focus Group Fellows Committee, and detailed information about each ranked nominee.

What determines which committee(s) will review the nomination package?
The nominee’s primary section or focus group affiliation will automatically review the nomination package. Also, nominators can select an additional three section or focus group affiliations to review the package as well. Section and Focus Group Fellows committees can review a nominee’s secondary affiliations upon request.

What determines the number of nominees that are moved forward by each section/focus group for review by the Union Fellows committee?
Nominations are forwarded to Section and Focus Group Fellows Selection committees. These discipline- and problem-oriented groups review the candidates affiliated with their group and submit to the Union Fellows Selection Committee the names of those who, in their judgment, are their best candidates from among those nominations. They are permitted to submit up to 0.2 percent of the membership of the group they represent. Section and Focus Group Fellows Selection committees submit a final list, ranking the allotted number of nominees they are permitted to move forward for review by the Union Fellows Selection Committee.

How is a final decision reached by the Union Fellows Selection Committee?
The Union Fellows Selection Committee dedicates months of its time reviewing every nomination submitted by Section and Focus Group Fellows committees. On the basis of their diverse scientific backgrounds and knowledge, committee members present or support the case of an allotted number of proposed Fellows at a confidential Union Fellows Selection Committee meeting, which will be held in July at AGU headquarters. At this meeting, there are thorough discussions, and in cases where there are significant differences of opinion, secret ballots are cast. No one is elected without receiving a majority of the committee’s votes.

How many Fellows are elected annually?
AGU policy states that “the number of Fellows elected each year shall not exceed 0.1% of the total membership.” Thus, one Fellow is elected for every 1000 AGU members. The number of Fellows elected is based on the total membership at the end of the previous year. In addition, approximately three to five AGU members are conferred as Fellows annually.

What does it mean to be conferred a Fellow?
Any AGU medalist or Ambassador awardee who was not previously elected a Fellow is automatically accorded the honor as well. This usually occurs with Macelwane medalists, who are typically early career scientists; however, it is not limited to them.

Is there a historical list of elected AGU Fellows available? Where can I find the new class of Fellows listed?
Yes, you can search for AGU Fellows on the AGU Website. The Fellows Search engine can be found at the bottom of the Fellows Program Overview page.

I was elected an AGU Fellow but my name does not appear on the historical list. Whom should I contact?
Please contact the Honors Program Manager.

I have a unique question that is not answered here. Whom should I contact?
Please contact the Honors Program Manager.


NOMINATION LETTER

What information should the nomination letter contain, and what is the page limit?
Nomination letters should be concise, clear, and no more than two pages in length, preferably on letterhead. The nomination should include a brief history of the candidate’s work and the publications that have resulted, and should also indicate which section/focus group Fellows committee should review the package. It must include a short citation as the final sentence, which encapsulates the essence of the individual’s contributions.

What is a short citation? Can you share an example of a short citation?
A short citation is the final sentence in the nomination letter, which summarizes the essence of the individual’s contributions. Use the following format when writing a citation:

“Dr. Smith should be elected a Fellow for [state the essence of the scientific contributions in 150 characters or less].” An example of a citation provided for 2012 Fellow Janne Blichert-Toft is as follows:

For being the world’s leading geochemist in the application of hafnium isotopes to the evolution of the Earth and early solar system.

Short citations should be no more than 150 characters – including punctuation and spacing. The character count is strongly adhered. Nominators will be asked to revise any short citation that exceeds the allotted character count. If this request is not complied, AGU staff will remove any text beyond the 150 character count (no copyediting will be provided).

Does my nomination letter also count as one of the three required letters of support for my nominee?
No, a nomination letter is submitted along with a minimum of three (or a maximum of five) supporting letters. A nominator cannot also submit a letter of support in the same nomination package—he or she must secure at least three individuals who support the nomination. Thus a total of at least four, but not more than six, different individuals are involved in a Fellows nomination (i.e., one nominator plus three to five supporters). To determine if a potential supporter is eligible to participate in the Fellows nomination process, please review the AGU Conflict of Interest policy.

I still am unsure of what to include in a nomination letter or supporting letter. What should I consider when writing a nomination letter? Primary criteria for evaluation in scientific eminence are: (1) breakthrough or discovery; (2) innovation in disciplinary science, cross-disciplinary science, instrument development, or methods development; and/or (3) sustained scientific impact. The nomination and supporting letters must clearly explain the significant impact of the candidate’s breakthrough or discovery, innovation in disciplinary science, and sustained scientific impact, so that is understood by both peers and scientists in other fields of research.
Consider answering the following questions as you make your case for Fellowship in the nominating letter and supporting letters:

  • What major breakthroughs, discoveries, or sustained scientific impact are results of the candidate’s research and/or contributions? How far-reaching is it? Explain in terms that will be understandable to those in other fields of study.
  • Where does the candidate’s work rank in the field?
  • Is the work specific to a field of study or is it interdisciplinary?
  • What insight has been gained as a result of the candidate’s work? Indicate the breadth of the impact on our science.
  • How has the candidate’s work contributed to the field overall and/or in the growth of the field?
  • What impact does the work have on current and future research?
  • What research was influenced by the candidate’s contributions?
  • In what other ways has the candidate contributed to the scientific community? What other recognition has the individual received?


CURRICULUM VITAE

What information should the nominee’s curriculum vitae (CV) contain, and what is the page limit?

  1. The curriculum vitae should list the candidate’s:
  2. Name
  3. Mailing and e-mail address
  4. History of employment
  5. Degrees
  6. Research experience
  7. Honors
  8. Memberships
  9. Service to the community through committee work, advisory boards, etc.

The CV should not exceed two pages in length. All incomplete or incorrect CVs will be returned to the nominator for revising.


SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

My nominee has written for countless publications. Can the selected bibliography exceed the maximum two-page limit?
AGU requests that nominators submit a “selected bibliography” that encompasses the candidate’s overall research and scientific contributions. Rather than selecting the most recent publications, nominators are encouraged to choose those that best support the argument for Fellowship.

Each selected bibliography should begin by briefly stating the candidate’s total number and types of publications and specifying the number published in AGU publications. For example:

Jane Doe is the author of 92 publications, 86 in peer-reviewed scientific journals, 14 of which have been published in AGU journals and books. The following selected list best supports Jane’s nomination for AGU Fellow.

The selected bibliography should not exceed two pages in length. All incomplete or incorrect documents will be returned to the nominator for revising.


LETTERS OF SUPPORT

I have received notification from AGU Member Relations staff that a supporter is ineligible. What should I do?
If one of three supporters is ineligible to participate in the Fellows nomination process, then the nominator must find an alternate supporter to write a letter of support. If no alternate supporter is located, then the nomination is considered incomplete and will not be assigned to the Section/Focus Group Fellows Committee(s) for review.

If you have at least four or five supporters, there are two options:

  1. Simply remove the ineligible supporter and submit the nomination package; or
  2. replace the ineligible supporter with an alternate supporter.

All nomination documents must be received at AGU headquarters by the deadline.

To determine if a potential supporter is eligible to participate in the Fellows nomination process, please review the AGU Conflict of Interest policy.

I have submitted a nomination package, but another supporter would like to write a letter on behalf of the nominee. How should we proceed?
AGU strongly recommends and prefers that all documents are submitted to headquarters by the nominator. Supporters should allow adequate time to forward their letter directly to the nominator, who is responsible for submitting the complete nomination package. If a supporter must submit his/her letter separately, due to time constraints, then contact the Member Relations Program Manager for further instructions. All nomination documents must be received at AGU headquarters by the deadline.

There are several reputable and esteemed scientists who have agreed to write supporting letters for my nominee. I simply cannot choose five supporters from this list of highly regarded individuals. Can there be an exception to the rule?
Although it may be difficult to choose, nominators cannot exceed five letters of support in a Fellows nomination package. If more than five supporting letters are submitted, then an e-mail will be sent to the nominator requesting the names of their five supporters. If no response is received, then Member Relations staff will randomly select five of the supporters provided in order to move the nomination package forward. Supporting letters should not exceed two pages in length. All incorrect letters of support will be returned to the nominator for revising.