UW News

September 19, 2023

Five UW faculty members elected as AGU Fellows, plus more honors

Another lovely day on the University of Washington’s Seattle campus.

The American Geophysical Union announced Sept. 13 that five University of Washington faculty members have been elected as new fellows, representing the departments of astronomy, Earth and space sciences, oceanography, global health, and environmental and occupational health sciences.

The Fellows program recognizes AGU members who have made exceptional contributions to Earth and space sciences through a breakthrough, discovery or innovation in their field. The five UW honorees are among 54 people from around the world in the 2023 Class of Fellows. AGU, the world’s largest Earth and space sciences association, annually recognizes a select number of individuals nominated by their peers for its highest honors. Since 1962, the AGU Union Fellows Committee has selected less than 0.1% of members as new fellows.

Also honored by AGU this year are three UW faculty members, from the departments of Earth and space sciences and atmospheric sciences, who have received other awards.

Here are the UW’s five new AGU Fellows:

David Catling, professor of Earth and space sciences, studies which characteristics of Earth help this planet support life, and whether life might be found on other planets. His work spans astronomy, biology and geology, on planetary environments including Earth, Mars, Venus and icy moons, as well as planets outside this solar system. He is the author of “Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction” for the layperson and “Atmospheric Evolution on Inhabited and Lifeless Worlds” for researchers.

Jody Deming, who holds the Karl M. Banse Endowed Professorship in oceanography, explores the limits and ecological contributions of microbial life in deep ocean and polar regions, focusing in recent years on how microbes adapt to the extreme conditions of Arctic sea ice. In addition to a research and teaching career, Deming founded what is now the UW Center for Environmental Genomics and helped establish the nation’s first graduate training program in astrobiology.

Kristie Ebi, professor of global health and of environmental and occupational health sciences, has been conducting research on the health risks of climate variability and change for nearly 30 years. She focuses on estimating current and future health risks of climate change, designing adaptation policies and measures to reduce risks in multi-stressor environments, and estimating the health co-benefits of mitigation policies. Ebi is also founding director of the UW Center for Health and the Global Environment, or CHanGE.

Victoria (Vikki) Meadows, professor of astronomy, is an astrobiologist and planetary astronomer whose research focuses on predicting, acquiring and analyzing observations of planetary atmospheres and surfaces. In addition to studying planets within our solar system, she is interested in exoplanets — those outside the solar system — and how they might reveal the presence of life. With the UW’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory, she uses models of planets and planet-star interactions to generate plausible planetary environments and spectra for extrasolar terrestrial planets and the early Earth.

Eric Steig, professor and chair of Earth and space sciences, is a geochemist and glaciologist whose research focuses on polar climate and ice sheets in the Arctic and in Antarctica. He is best known for his analyses of Antarctic ice cores using measurements of oxygen and hydrogen in the ice to better understand how climate has varied in the past, over hundreds to thousands of years.

In addition to the newly elected fellows, UW faculty members are also recognized in several subject-specific awards and lectures:

Becky Alexander, professor of atmospheric sciences, will deliver the Future Horizons in Climate Science-Turco Lectureship in December at the AGU’s fall meeting. Alexander studies the relationship between climate change and the chemical composition of the atmosphere. She looks at the pathways by which atmospheric pollutants form, how those chemical pathways can vary, and what that means both for present-day air quality and for the future of climate change.

Brendan Crowell, research assistant professor of Earth and space sciences, has received the John Wahr Early Career Award for his research modeling natural disasters using geodesy, or the shape of the Earth’s surface, and seismology. Crowell pioneered ways to use GPS and related data in earthquake and tsunami early warning systems. He is currently using this data to better understand natural disasters as they unfold and develop a risk-mitigation framework for coastal hazards such as tsunamis.

Baptiste Journaux, research assistant professor of Earth and space sciences, has received the Mineral and Rock Physics Early Career Award. Journaux uses modeling and experiments to explore the conditions in extreme environments on other planets, and how that might affect their ability to harbor life. He is a member of the science team for NASA’s upcoming Dragonfly mission, which will characterize the chemistry and habitability of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

Nicholas Ward, a researcher at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with an affiliate UW faculty position in oceanography, has received the Thomas Hilker Early Career Award for Excellence in Biogeosciences.

All honorees will be recognized in December at the AGU’s fall meeting in San Francisco.