Morrow Receives 2013 Space Physics and Aeronomy Richard Carrington Award

Cherilynn Ann Morrow and Patricia H. Reiff received the 2013 Space Physics and Aeronomy Richard Carrington Education and Public Outreach Award at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, held 9–13 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.


morrow_cherilynnThe Space Physics and Aeronomy Richard Carrington (SPARC) Education and Public Outreach Award for Cherilynn Morrow recognizes years of pioneering work on behalf of the space science community in the area of education and public outreach (E/PO).

Cherilynn’s advocacy for robust E/PO efforts began in the early 1990s at NASA headquarters, where I first met her while pitching a (then) progressive idea about education workshops for space scientists. Cherilynn was instrumental in getting NASA to view E/PO as an integral part of its research mission. She worked tirelessly to provide an intellectual foundation (including a 30-page white paper) for embedding E/PO opportunities in space science missions and research grants and for facilitating greater scientist engagement in E/PO.

After NASA, Cherilynn worked with the Space Science Institute to develop education programs for traveling exhibits and instructional materials aligned with national education standards (e.g., the Saturn Educator Guide for the NASA Cassini mission). I witnessed her dedicated efforts to raise the bar for NASA E/PO products through scientist-educator partnerships and peer review. Her cross-cultural “Kinesthetic Astronomy” remains a widely praised and adopted curriculum.

In the late 1990s, Cherilynn’s team was competitively selected as a NASA space science “Broker/Facilitator” to help guide and advise E/PO programs around the country. She produced countless influential white papers, workshops, and professional society sessions for scientists and E/PO professionals about becoming effective partners in education.

Within SPA, Cherilynn served two distinguished terms (2000–2004) as chair of its E/PO Committee. More recently, she and Mark Moldwin cochaired a decadal task group that contributed a significant new analysis of the education and workforce needs of our community.

Cherilynn’s leadership and creativity during the past 2 decades make her an outstanding example of what the SPARC award intends to recognize and honor. And to boot, you never know when she might break into song, singing “Stormy Weather—Solar Style.”

—RAMON LOPEZ, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington


I am delighted to receive the SPARC award, which recognizes education and public outreach (E/PO) efforts that incorporate our community’s scientific achievements while addressing authentic educational needs. No one is honored in isolation, and I owe a large debt of gratitude to many fellow pioneers, including the author of the citation above and my fellow SPARC awardee, Pat Reiff. Back in 1994, she was one of two committee members to be overtly supportive as I made the first ever E/PO presentations to the (then) NASA Space Science Advisory Committee. Today all of the recent space science decadal reports include explicit support for E/PO programs integrated within NASA and National Science Foundation research missions.

The very existence of the SPARC prize exemplifies how the SPA section, with its strong E/PO committee, exhibits ongoing leadership in integrating research and education. My time at the helm of this pioneering committee (2000–2004) was rewarding unto itself, collaborating with (then) SPA president Dan Baker and dedicated colleagues like Stanford’s Deborah Scherrer.

The past 25 years have seen remarkable explosions of activity at the previously uncharted intersections of scientific research environments with E/PO programs and with education research. I have been privileged to help initiate, implement, or advise education-related efforts within government agencies, spaceflight missions, research centers, academic departments, science workshops, professional societies, and a decadal survey. I am grateful to all the society-minded scientists who have encouraged me as I have “strayed” into this unconventional application of my doctorate in solar physics.

This work has persuaded me that many vital contributions to education (and to the scientific enterprise itself) can be made only through providing diverse educators, students, and citizens closer contact with practicing scientists and their research environments. May the SPARC award provide ongoing incentive for creating such opportunities via courageous partnerships among scientists, educators, and, yes, artists to boot.

—CHERILYNN MORROW, Aspen Global Change Institute, Basalt, Colo.