AGU Fall Meeting 2019: Hong Chin Ng

I was very excited to attend AGU this year because it was the first time I was provided the opportunity to give an invited talk at such a prestigious conference. I presented my recent study in reconstructing ocean circulation during past climate changes using a geochemical toolbox. At AGU, my research findings and their implications were able to reach a far broader audience, including experts in various disciplines, policy makers and the general public. Therefore, I am very thankful to the EAG Ambassador Award which enabled me to come to this conference.


AGU 2019 felt like a grand celebration of Science! The conference marked its centennial this year, and there were many focused sessions recounting research successes in Earth and Space Sciences over the last one hundred years. These sessions also addressed the key problems that we might face in the next century, especially those relating to global climate change. Participating in these focused sessions inspired me in shaping my future research plans.

Attending AGU was very beneficial for my career in terms of establishing cross-boundary collaboration. For example, during the conference I met Sifan, a PhD graduate from University of Wisconsin-Madison. We are both investigating ocean circulation during past climate changes, but we use different tools. After some discussion, we identified the advantages of combining our expertise (a data-model approach) to address some of the outstanding questions in the field, and we are now working towards producing a manuscript soon. Such a collaboration would not have been possible without this year’s AGU.


This was the second time I have attended AGU in San Francisco. It was interesting to see what had changed and what remained the same. It was the same BART (rapid transit) ride from the airport to the city centre, same hostel I stayed in, and the same half-hour walk from the hostel to the conference venue at Moscone Center. There were about 2,000 more participants this year, but I felt very happy to see many familiar faces from 2014. I was delighted to reunite with early career scientists who were fellow PhD students back then and now work at different institutions around the globe.


The best thing during the conference was meeting people! Conversations about research ideas could take place over lunch nearly every day. I also took the chance to go to networking receptions organised by various institutions. Productive science discussion plus great food, I couldn’t ask for more!


I would suggest being as organised as possible before AGU. Book flights and San Francisco accommodation more than three months in advance as it gets extremely pricey closer to the date. Check out the sessions, workshops and other events beforehand to avoid feeling confused and lost by all the overlapping activities. Finally, if there is someone (e.g. expert in your field) that you would like to meet during the conference, arrange the meeting ahead of time, as people’s schedules get filled up very quickly at AGU.

About the author

Hong Chin Ng is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate specialising in marine geochemistry. His research focuses on investigating the interactions between the ocean, ice caps and the atmosphere during rapid climate changes, and how these affect natural ecosystems. He mainly employs isotope chemistry methods to address research questions – his favourites are natural silicon isotopes and uranium-series isotopes, which can provide information on a range of natural processes such as biological productivity, continental weathering, and ocean circulation.