M. Susan Lozier

Duke University

2016 Ambassador Award Winner

M. Susan Lozier was awarded the 2016 Ambassador Award at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 14 December 2016 in San Francisco, Calif. The award is in recognition for “outstanding contributions to one or more of the following area(s): societal impact, service to the Earth and space community, scientific leadership, and promotion of talent/career pool.”



Susan Lozier is widely recognized as a true intellectual achiever and as an awesome role model in physical oceanography. Susan is a Fellow of AGU, a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, and the 2010 recipient of the Association of Women Geoscientists Outstanding Educator Award. She is the current president of the Oceanography Society.

Susan is unquestionably among the foremost physical oceanographers of her generation, making significant contributions to both theoretical and observational physical oceanography, as well as being a pioneer in understanding the physical controls of biological productivity. Susan’s key contributions to physical oceanography have transformed the way we think about the North Atlantic circulation. She currently leads the international Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP) initiative, designed to enhance our understanding and ability to model the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation—an important component of the Earth’s climate system.

While Dr. Lozier’s scientific achievements are clearly exceptional, the contribution she has made to geosciences in creating and leading Mentoring Physical Oceanography Women to Increase Retention (MPOWIR) is what makes her uniquely deserving of this Ambassador Award. MPOWIR was established in 2005 in response to her concerns regarding the declining participation of women in the physical oceanography workforce going up the career ladder from Ph.D. to postdoctoral to faculty levels. Entraining both senior and junior scientists, Susan created a community-based structure that allows for the mentoring of a larger number of young women scientists than any one person could do alone. Junior women and senior scientists share experiences and are able to provide and receive frank advice and voice concerns, all the while building community networks to help raise confidence and skills for promoting science and recognizing that there are many different pathways to career advancement and success. The MPOWIR approach acts to strengthen the whole community through our commitment to one another. Now, a decade after its implementation, MPOWIR is having a positive impact on the retention of junior women in physical oceanography, ensuring diversity for future generations. As such, MPOWIR also serves as a model program that could surely enrich and diversify the entire geophysical community.

In summary, Susan Lozier is a natural leader whose efforts have benefited the oceanographic community as a whole, not simply the individuals who have personally participated in the science or mentoring programs she has led. Susan Lozier is an excellent and worthy recipient of the AGU Ambassador Award.

—Janet Sprintall, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla




The truth of the matter is that this AGU Ambassador Award is for the physical oceanography community. I am happy to accept the award on the community’s behalf but prefer not to pretend that it is mine alone. MPOWIR got its start in May of 2004, when I invited several colleagues to join me in Washington, D.C., for a meeting with representatives from ONR and NSF to discuss retention issues for women in physical oceanography. Though I admit to bending a few ears, I never had to twist a single arm. From the beginning, my colleagues understood the need for a community-led mentoring program and, importantly, understood that the retention of female scientists was a community issue, not a women’s issue. Thus, men in the physical oceanography community joined the effort, wholeheartedly so. NSF, ONR, NASA, NOAA, and DOE lent needed financial support along the way, and, perhaps most important, early-career female physical oceanographers responded with enthusiasm. And now, 12 years down the road, MPOWIR is moving the needle on retention, a point of pride for all members in the physical oceanography community.

Though I am loath to take personal credit for this award, I have no qualms about giving personal thanks. I’ll start by expressing deep gratitude to oceanographer extraordinaire Janet Sprintall for heading this nomination; to Mark Cane and Rana Fine for providing shining examples of mentorship; to Sonya Legg and Colleen Mouw for so ably continuing the leadership of MPOWIR; to Eric Itsweire, Terri Paluszkiewicz, and Eric Lindstrom for their longstanding support of MPOWIR; and to Victoria Coles, Amy Bower, and LuAnne Thompson for sticking with me and MPOWIR from the start. Also, a thousand thanks go to my current and former graduate students who taught me how to mentor and forgave me my stumbles.

My engagement with MPOWIR and my own graduate students through these many years has been nothing short of a pleasure. When I think of my role as a mentor, I am reminded of an Edwin Markham quote that my mother taught me long ago: “All that we send into the lives of others, comes back into our own.” It has been a privilege and honor to be part of MPOWIR, to be part of so many students’ lives, and to be part of the physical oceanography community. Thank you.

—M. Susan Lozier, Duke University, Durham, N.C.