Reiff 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.


reiff_patricia-hPatricia Reiff has been awarded the SPARC Education and Outreach Award for her pioneering education and outreach efforts communicating excitement for, and understanding of, space and Earth science.

Pat is an outstanding scientist and educator who taught me a great deal about space plasmas and who has continued to teach others as she has taught herself through pioneering research and outreach efforts. As her career trajectory soared upward through the Rice University ranks from research professor to full professor and department chair and then director of the Rice Space Institute, Pat maintained her infectious enthusiasm for teaching. Even the demands of numerous service activities and committee assignments at Rice and at the national level could never draw Pat away from education and outreach activities.

Throughout her educational work, Pat has striven to engage students at secondary school levels and also to engage underserved communities of the American southwest. In addition to having advised 12 successful Ph.D. students, she created a master of science teaching degree that has at present 25 teacher-alumni who are spreading knowledge of space and Earth science in secondary schools throughout the country, many in underserved communities.

In summary, Pat Reiff is an eminent scientist who has dedicated herself to sharing her excitement and enthusiasm for science with students at all levels, as well as the general taxpaying public. She is a pioneer in the field of education and outreach in space science and is very much deserving of the first AGU SPARC award. AGU and the heliophysics community as a whole have been and will continue to be well served by her efforts and can bestow this honor with the greatest pride in her accomplishments.

—THOMAS EARLE MOORE, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.


It is a special privilege to receive this award honoring Richard Carrington’s discovery of what we now call space weather. It is particularly appropriate that this award also recognizes Cherilynn Morrow, who 20 years ago made a presentation to the Space Science Advisory Committee on Jeff Rosendhal’s idea of mission-based E/PO. We worked together, bringing that idea to the successful, but threatened, network it is today. For me, learning and teaching go hand in hand—as we publish our findings for our peers, we should also repay the public investment in our research with accurate, understandable results. My interest in space science was sparked by a father-daughter course in astronomy sponsored by the Brownies at the Oklahoma City Planetarium and kindled by the Bell Labs production The Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays directed by Frank Capra. Knowing that planetarium shows and educational movies can change lives, I have devoted a large portion of my last 25 years to creating software, shows, and portable planetariums to inspire and engage youth. This has not been a one-person effort, of course. My work Cherilynn Ann Morrow would have been impossible without the collaboration of Carolyn Sumners, vice president of the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Our museum kiosk and planetarium control software would not have happened without the skill and perseverance of my chief programmer, Colin Law. Jim Burch has been first a mentor and then a colleague on both the research and outreach sides of my career. I share this honor with a long line of highly talented students and postdocs who have contributed science content and outreach efforts. Most importantly, without the support of my husband, Tom Hill, I would not have had the time and freedom to build an educational network while continuing research and raising a family. I thank AGU for bestowing this honor.

—PATRICIA H. REIFF, Rice University, Houston, Texas