Ramon E. Lopez will receive the 2016 Space Physics and Aeronomy Richard Carrington Award at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 12–16 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given in recognition of significant and outstanding impact on students’ and the public’s understanding of our science through education and/or outreach activities.
I am honored to be included in the group of outstanding contributors to education and outreach who have been recognized for their work by the SPARC award. Many of the previous awardees are long-time friends and colleagues, and the fact that the SPA section has this award indicates the importance that our community places on education and outreach activities.
I have always believed that scientists have a responsibility to share the fruits of our science with the public that pays for our research. Scientists by and large lead privileged lives, pursuing their curiosity and engaging in stimulating interactions with far-flung colleagues. We owe it to society to provide tangible returns, whether in the form of improved space weather prediction, inspiring explorations of our and other worlds, or contributions to education that utilize the popularity of space science. I have been fortunate to be able to combine my education work with my space physics research and use each to support the other.
Working with K–12 educators, scientists can and should help to improve science education for all citizens of our space-faring civilization. In our universities and laboratories, we can nurture the next generation of scientists, especially from groups who have been underrepresented in science. Students who, for whatever reason, have not had equal access to opportunities represent a lost talent if we do not make efforts to seek them out, recruit, mentor, and support them to realize their potential.
Through the education efforts of those recognized by the SPARC award and that of the many others equally deserving of recognition, our community will continue to honor the social contract to give back to a society that is fascinated by space science.