Sigrid Close will receive the 2017 Space Physics and Aeronomy Richard Carrington (SPARC) Education and Public Outreach Award at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award is given “in recognition of significant and outstanding impact on students’ and the public’s understanding of our science through their education and/or outreach activities.”
—Larry Paxton, President, Space Physics and Aeronomy Section, AGU
I am honored and humbled to be selected for the SPARC Award from AGU. Teaching is a great responsibility; the difference between a positive and a negative learning experience can drastically redirect a student’s career and life. Teaching moments occur not only in the classroom and laboratory but also in everyday experiences throughout our careers. In science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, building a connection between abstract theory and physical reality can be crucial to enhancing understanding. I therefore have strived to approach teaching as an ever-present aspect of the roles that I fill in my professional and personal life. My vision is to inspire and engage people of all ages and to foster equal opportunity so that diversity can be achieved in the core engineering and science fields.
In order to encourage gender and racial diversity within STEM fields, we need to engage children at an early age. We can further their interest in these subjects or perhaps inspire new students to pursue degrees in these fields by exposing them to exciting, current research undertaken by AGU members. Finally, it is important to present and interpret science and engineering to the general audience, including adults who are not necessarily working in a related field. An improved understanding of the particular challenges faced in our research can allow the public to make more informed decisions in terms of policy, their own lives, and how parents talk about science and engineering to their children. I am thankful that AGU reflects these values through its commitment to recognizing efforts in the community to engage in outreach and education.
—Sigrid Close, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.