Organizational Spotlight: The American Geophysical Union (AGU)

October 23, 2023

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The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is a non-profit society for Earth, atmospheric, ocean, hydrologic, space, and planetary scientists. Established in 1919 and independently incorporated in 1972,1 AGU supports scientific discovery by hosting meetings, providing topical publications, offering career resources, and science advocacy. AGU also offers several grants and scholarships for students and early career researchers, as well as competitions for students at the yearly Fall Meeting.

What is AGU known for?

One of the things AGU is most well known for is its yearly meetings. The Fall Meeting is held annually in December, rotating between San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago, and Washington DC. AGU has also co-sponsored this meeting with organizations such as the Mineralogical Society of America, the Canadian Geophysical Union, and the European Geosciences Union. While AGU also hosts several smaller, more specialized meetings throughout the year (e.g., highlighting ocean sciences or heliophysics)2, the Fall Meeting is the biggest meeting of the year, and is even one of the largest conferences in North America?

How large are AGU meetings?

The annual Fall AGU Meeting often hosts an international audience of more than 25,000 individuals.3 The more niche meetings often fluctuate a bit more in size.

What are the benefits of being an AGU member?

Outside of the presentation and seminars at meetings, AGU often provides learning opportunities, such as webinars, a job board, and internships. They also provide resources for educators from the university level to those who teach kindergarten, and everyone in between. Students and early career scientists who need a more hands-on approach can join AGU’s mentorship program to gain support as well as career networking opportunities. Additionally, AGU supports research and researchers through a robust data and software sharing database and require authors who submit to their journals to submit their data to open access repositories.4

AGU also supports scientific dissemination by publishing 23 scientific journals. Their journal portfolio ranges from niche subtopics (e.g., Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems) to broad, multidisciplinary journals (e.g., AGU Advances). In addition to these journals, they also partner with several other journals, publish books, and provide special collections. 

How does AGU support the scientific community?

Alongside several other earth, space, and environmental organizations, AGU supports the Earth and Space Science Open Archive (ESS Open Archive), an online server that archives preprints, presentations from academic conferences, and scholarly societies’ documents.5

The American Geophysical Union’s Headquarters in Washington DC.

Additionally, AGU supports climate change research and policy. They have provided a framework for climate change research as well as several statements regarding the organization’s commitment to climate change policy. In November 2021, they followed through with this by divesting from fossil fuel companies and ensuring that future investments did not involve mutual fund holdings in fossil fuel companies.6 Additionally, AGU’s headquarters in Washington DC is a net zero energy building, which means the amount of energy it produces is greater than or equal to the amount of energy it takes to keep the building running.7

References

  1. https://www.agu.org/learn-about-agu/about-agu#0
  2. https://www.agu.org/plan-for-a-meeting/agumeetings 
  3. https://www.agu.org/fall-meeting/pages/about
  4. https://data.agu.org/resources/agu-data-software-sharing-guidance
  5. https://essopenarchive.org/users/3/articles/569906-about-us
  6. https://fromtheprow.agu.org/agu-announces-change-in-investment-strategy/
  7. https://www.agu.org/building
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