Cathryn Manduca

2004 Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education Award Winner

Cathryn A. Manduca received the Excellence in Geophysical Education Award at the AGU Joint Assembly Honors Ceremony, which was held on 19 May 2004 in Montreal, Canada. The award honors “a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group.”


“This year’s recipient of the AGU’s Excellence in Geophysics Education Award, Cathryn Manduca, is recognized for her sustained contributions in the development of communities of scholars, both real and virtual, in support of excellence in geoscience education. Cathy is a leader and visionary who has repeatedly identified the issues that represent next steps in improving geoscience education, has charted the course to bring these issues to the attention of the community, has created new collaborations and networks to best address these issues, and has disseminated results to create new opportunities.

“Cathy hails from McCall, Idaho, straddling the suture between North America and the exotic terranes to the west. A geochemist and petrologist by training, Cathy undertook her undergraduate studies at Williams College—with a return to her homeland for a junior year exchange program at the University of Idaho. She then proceeded to her doctoral studies at Caltech, where she produced pioneering work on the Idaho Batholith.

“As coordinator of the Keck Geology Consortium for almost 6 years, she created research opportunities for 75 to 100 students per year, strengthened research collaborations among institutions, and developed a national model for how to best to support research experiences for undergraduates.

“Subsequently, Cathy has been a key leader in two national workshops that have changed the direction of geophysical education; she co-chaired the Shaping the Future Conference, hosted by AGU in 1996, which advocated using an integrated Earth system approach in geoscience education; and the Portals to the Future Conference, from which the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) was born. As co-author of the DLESE Community Plan and chair of the original DLESE Steering Committee, Cathy not only engaged the geoscience community in the broad vision of how new information technologies could change what and how we teach about Earth, but she extended this influence to the larger world of the National Science Digital Library.

“Her current work as director of the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College ( continues to explore new applications of information technology to support geoscience education in such diverse areas as Using Data in the Classroom, Quantitative Skills in the Geosciences, Earth Exploration Toolkit, and Starting Point, which provides resources for entry-level geoscience courses. As one of the leaders of the faculty development program, On the Cutting Edge, Cathy has been co-convener of a wide range of professional development workshops such as Using Global Datasets to Teach Geoscience, Effective Web Design, Teaching Petrology, and Teaching with Visualizations. It was Cathy’s vision to couple live workshops with Web technology to more broadly engage colleagues and to disseminate the workshop outcomes.

“Cathy has also been a key leader in establishing a new field of research focused on learning in the geosciences. As co-convener of a workshop on ‘Bringing Research on Learning to the Geosciences,’ she has helped to create a new community of scholars including geoscientists, educators, cognitive psychologists, and learning scientists.

“Cathy has a long record of service to the geoscience community, as a member of AGU’s Committee on Education and Human Resources, and as current president of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. She has also been an active ambassador of the geosciences to other disciplines through her contributions to Project Kaleidoscope, Council for Undergraduate Research, and Sigma Xi. In her local community, she has had no less impact, working with the Olmsted County planning board on water quality issues.

“Perhaps her greatest legacy will be the community of geoscience educators she helped to build. Her initiative, energy, enthusiasm, and good humor inspire us all. It is our honor and privilege to present the recipient of the 2004 AGU Excellence in Geophysics Education Award, Cathryn Manduca.”

—DAVID MOGK and HEATHER MACDONALD, Montana State University, Bozeman; College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va.


“It is a wonderful honor to receive American Geophysical Union Award for Excellence in Geophysical Education. It is also a real privilege to be working in geoscience education today. Public leaders have a growing interest in science education and growing recognition that geosciences play an important role in understanding and solving environmental problems. This gives us a unique opportunity to bring geoscience education into the mainstream of formal and informal learning in new and exciting ways.

“One of the best things about working in geoscience education, and one of the reasons so much progress is being made, is the strong geoscience education community that collaborates with friendship and collegiality. The good will, and can do spirit, in this community is amazing. I want to thank all of the smart, energetic, creative, people in geoscience, cognitive science, education, and geoscience education who routinely give their time, ideas, and energy for the common good of geoscience education. It is learning from you and watching your collective impact that makes my work exciting and valuable.

“This award reflects what all of us have been able to do together. Thank you for both making that work possible and for recognizing my role in it.

“There are some particular members of this community who have been especially kind to me, with whom I have collaborated closely, and from whom I have learned especially important things. To these people let me say a special thank you: the faculty in the Keck Geology Consortium, especially Bill Fox, Hank Woodard, Bud Wobus, and Sandra Glass; Carleton College and its geology department; my collaborators on current projects, and those who have worked closely with me on committees and workshops; the SERC staff; and the people who have mentored me and served as role models: Sandra Glass, Jack Hehn, Trish Morse, Jeanne Narum. Most especially, I want to thank David Mogk and Heather Macdonald. None of my work would be possible without their special friendship, encouragement, advice and collaboration.

“Of course I would not be receiving this award if it weren’t for all the people who have nurtured me through my life. My parents, John and Sally Allen, who believed that I could do anything and encouraged me to figure out how to make all things possible. My husband, Armando Manduca, a wonderful partner who never complains about my travels or work. My children Katie and Robert who love me no matter what. My teachers through life: math teachers Bev Bradford and Connie Hartman (it never occurred to me that women couldn’t do math), Mack Miller, who through skiing taught me to keep going over the top of the hill, Bud Wobus who sparked my interest in geology and has never stopped being my advisor, Lee Silver and Hugh Taylor who taught me to do research carefully and thoughtfully.

“To all of you for this touching honor, I give my thanks.”

—CATHRYN MANDUCA, Cathryn A. Manduca, Carleton College, Northfield, Minn.