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Broadening the Diversity of Excellence as we head to Awards Nomination Deadlines (Oct 31 2014)

October 03, 2014

Dear Members of the Geochemical Society,

In the next few weeks we face the deadlines for submission of nominations for the GS's highest competitive honours (October 31 2014). Having the most deserving and most diverse group of award winners is important for many reasons. Awardees symbolize the highest achievement in our field. They inspire all of us, and especially those at an early career stage, to do our best science. They become among the most visible spokespersons for our profession.

This is where you come in.

The development of a large and competitive pool of excellent nominees is critical to the success of the prize competitions. To develop these pools we ask that you in the community bring to bear all your scientific expertise and creative thinking. The past record of prize winners reflects scientific excellence and achievement of the highest level. Putting together a nomination package is not onerous, and unless you choose to reveal your role, is anonymous. There can be no more important role in leading and mentoring scientific accomplishments and recognition in the field of geochemistry.

There is a second important issue I hope to bring to your attention and thereby to mobilize the collective resources of our community to address. The record of achievement the Geochemical Society recognizes through prizes, plenaries and keynotes at Goldschmidt has been exemplary. But a quick look at overall past statistics also reveals that historically, our recognitions and honours have been very much focused on our European and North American membership despite the fact that more than 20% of our membership draws from outside these regions and despite a community membership which reflects a much wider range of diversity of all descriptions (gender, heritage, discipline) as well as geographic.

See earlier Elements Comments by Past-GS President Sam Mukasa on this and related topics from April 2009.

We would like to urge you now to get involved to help ensure all aspects of the Geochemical Society's activities, including prizes continue to reflect the full diversity of scientific excellence and professional achievement that is out there in our community. It is a normal human tendency to self-replicate. When asked to brainstorm a list of names for recognition of scientific excellence my own initial list would no doubt reflect too many groundwater geochemists, likely too many women, and certainly too many Canadians! Those who have studied this issue suggest are simple steps that can help us broaden our collective perspective.

Steps Forward:

Draw up your initial brainstorming list, then step back and think again – more broadly this time. Consider excellent scientists you know who are significantly different than yourself and those who you studied with and postdoc'ed with, and add those names to your nomination list. Our goal this year is to have no fewer than 5 nominees considered for each award and 30 in the consideration pool for GS Fellows.

- We can do better in the nominations phase.
- We need your expert judgement and creative vision.
- Get involved this year.
- Make a resolution to continue your involvement annually and nominate one excellent candidate each year
for something, whether it be within GS or elsewhere.
- We are counting on your leadership and vision. Your role as a scientific mentor and supporter can
change the world (https://www.geochemsoc.org/awards).

With best wishes, Barbara Sherwood Lollar
GS President (2014-2015)

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Author: Seth Davis
Category: GNews