Mark B. Moldwin

University of Michigan

2016 Waldo E. Smith Award Winner

Mark B. Moldwin received the 2016 Waldo E. Smith Award at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 14 December 2016 in San Francisco, Calif. The award honors an individual for “extraordinary service to geophysics.”


It is a great pleasure to nominate Prof. Mark Moldwin for the AGU Waldo E. Smith Award. I can think of a no more deserving recipient for this accolade.

The AGU Waldo E. Smith Award honors individuals who have played unique leadership roles in such diverse areas as scientific associations, education, legislation, research, public understanding of science, management, and philanthropy and whose accomplishments have greatly strengthened and helped advance the geophysical sciences. Mark has excelled in all.

With over 150 scientific publications with impressive citation indices, his research has covered the development of magnetometers and small satellites, understanding the structure of the inner heliosphere and its impact on the magnetosphere, propagation of ­ultralow-­frequency waves, and ­magnetosphere-­ionosphere coupling. Mark’s scientific expertise is second to none, and he has a natural ability to communicate that science to others.

His mastery of teaching is manifest in several prestigious awards; he has been recognized by the Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech), the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of Michigan and was rated Top 10 Professor at UCLA. He went beyond the traditional teaching methods and developed science courses for students of nonscience disciplines to actively participate in the process of collecting and interpreting data for deeper understanding. He received the Copenhaver Award for the innovative strides made by the Dorm-room Labs.

He has devoted himself to improving public understanding of science through some 24 essays published in the Culver City News, which have eradicated misconceptions. His essay on the fallacy of “clean coal” sets the record straight, just as his clear and concise description of the political and scientific debate on global warming leaves little room for the reader to doubt its reality.

He encourages students, teachers, and the public to think critically, understand what science is and is not, and convey the excitement of science. He has promoted space science internationally through programs in Africa and organizing Geophysical Information for Teachers (GIFT) workshops, particularly at the International Heliophysical Year meetings in Ethiopia and Zambia.

Mark has contributed tremendously to service activities as editor in chief for Reviews of Geophysics, chair of the Space Physics and Aeronomy (SPA) Education and Public Outreach Committee, a member of the AGU Publications Committee and the AGU SPA Executive Committee, and cochair of the National Research Council Solar and Space Physics Decadal Survey Education and Workforce Working Group on the Space Studies Board.

It is a pleasure to nominate Mark for his accomplishments in scientific research, teaching excellence, and innovative educational methods and for improving public understanding of science. His accomplishments have greatly strengthened and significantly advanced the geophysical sciences.

—Tim ­Fuller-­Rowell, University of Colorado Boulder


Thank you very much, Tim, for your support in nominating me for the 2016 Waldo E. Smith Award. I’d also like to thank the awards committee and my friends and colleagues who provided letters for the nomination package. A special treat for me in winning the award was the opportunity to learn about Waldo Smith, the first executive director of AGU. I especially resonate with the quote associated with him, “There is more to doing science than doing science.”

My early advisors and mentors instilled in me the importance of service (editing, refereeing, organizing meetings, contributing to education and public outreach efforts, teaching, mentoring, leading groups, and advocating for science). I’d like to mention and thank a few of them here. One is my undergraduate research advisor, ­Syun-­Ichi Akasofu, who while I was working with him as a research assistant (digitizing analogue Russian magnetograms) became the director of the Geophysical Institute at the University of ­Alaska–­Fairbanks. I watched as he continued an active research program, directing the institute, and traveling the world in various service roles. My Ph.D. advisor, Jeff Hughes, also took on a leadership role as the inaugural director of the Center for Space Physics while I was his Ph.D. student at Boston University. I was able to observe his role in bringing faculty, staff, and students together to make an environment conducive for learning and research. Finally, I’d like to thank a few program managers and colleagues who gave me early opportunities to contribute to the geosciences: Bob Carovillano (who passed away a year ago) and Mary Mellot at NASA invited me to participate in my first NASA review panels and MOWGs; Sunanda Basu and Kile Baker at NSF provided opportunities to contribute to a number of research and education efforts. Janet Kozrya in her role on the AGU Publication Committee’s GRL Editor Search Committee in 2004 and Jim Burch in his role on the AGU Reviews of Geophysics ­Editor-­in-­Chief Search Committee in 2009 set me on the path of nearly a decade of editorial service. I’d also like to thank Lou Lanzerotti and Chris Russell, who in their leadership roles in the first Solar and Space Physics Decadal Survey invited me to participate.

Finally, I’d like to thank my parents (Bill and Sally Moldwin) who were the original role models for me in community service and my wife (Patty Hogan) for her support, encouragement, and love.

—Mark B. Moldwin, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor