EAG needs you to nominate a colleague for an award today! Message from the EAG President

The European Association of Geochemistry recognizes excellent contributions to the discipline of geochemistry, excellent contributions of all kinds. Our aim is fairness, equity and diversity in our awards system, but some of these aims are hampered by a lack of nominations. We need your help.

As a member of EAG, you may not know so much about our awards system (but you can find out more here). I think this lack of familiarity contributes to a perennial problem that I would like to try to address here. The nomination process is completely open – the nominations come from you, the geochemical community. In fact, you don’t even have to be a member of EAG to make a nomination. And, in fact, the only people who can’t make a nomination are myself, my colleagues on the EAG Council, and members of the award committee for which the nomination is made.

We discuss the diversity of our awardees a lot on the EAG Council. There are a number of ways we can increase diversity, but I am convinced that a key issue is the lack of nominations. For example, on some of the awards committees that I have sat on, the only nominations we get are those that the committee members have themselves solicited. We don’t want it to be like this. We don’t want to be the only geochemists who are thinking about nominees – and then encouraging people in our network to make those nominations. And, it is not a modus operandum that encourages diversity. But if we did not do it, we would literally get no nominations from our richly talented international community.

So, my first message here is: help us out, get going and nominate someone this year!

I know from discussions with some of you that there may be some barriers that stop you making nominations. Again, one of these is, I think, a lack of familiarity with the system – and again I would encourage you all to use the EAG website (Make a nomination) to find out about what is, actually, a pretty simple process.

A second thing I have heard is that people are unsure, when they have made a nomination, how “good” it is, whether they have said or done the right things. While we notify all nominators whether their nominee has been selected or not, we can’t provide specific feedback about nominations. One of the reasons is that nominations stay active for three years and are automatically rolled over to the next year. But, I can tell you from experience that the nominations I have seen have been of consistently high quality – there just aren’t enough of them!

Maybe there is also some uncertainty out there about who can be nominated, and for what. We have added information to the award and nomination pages of our website on this. But, in brief, we consider the discipline of geochemistry very broadly, and anyone in any country who is making major contributions to that discipline can be nominated – they don’t have to be members of EAG, they can be from industry or government as well as academia. EAG awards cover all career stages – there are awards for younger scientists, for mid-career researchers, and awards that recognize excellence over an entire career.

We have also added new information to our award pages on what kinds of activity we see as contributing to the bestowal of an award. We are a scientific society and our awards system is mostly about recognizing excellent science. However, we have asked our award committees to think about excellence broadly, and to consider outstanding contributions to teaching and training, major contributions to capacity building (particularly where that capacity is most lacking), excellent contributions to the geochemical community in terms of the administration of geochemistry in Europe and elsewhere, outstanding editorial contributions, particularly important work in outreach to the general public or engagement with policy makers. We have also asked them to consider the circumstances under which the science is achieved, and the different kinds of career paths that can all produce excellence.

Finally, I have heard that there is a feeling in the community that the awards system is some sort of “closed shop” – that awardees are somehow pre-determined. In one sense there may be something in this: again, as I mentioned above, because of the lack of nominations from you, award committees have no choice but to go after them. Once the nominations are received they are judged on the published criteria (which differ in their specifics between the different awards): there are no secret criteria. The award committees I have served on have been scrupulously fair with the nominations material they have in front of them. These award committees are made up of people in the geochemical community who give up their time to do it, for free. Only a small minority of these award committee members are on the EAG Council.

We think our awards system is pretty open and fair. Help us out by making it more diverse and inclusive – include yourself for a start – make a nomination today!

Geochemistry Fellows & Berner Lecture nomination deadline: 31 October
Urey, Houtermans and Science Innovation Awards nomination deadline: 15 November

Derek Vance
President of the European Association of Geochemistry