Recently, Dr. James Wanliss, professor of physics, was invited by the American Geophysical Union to volunteer as a committee member for the newly created Africa Award for Research Excellence in Space Science Committee.
The American Geophysical Union, begun in 1919 and independently incorporated in 1972, is the largest international group of Earth and space scientists. In its mission statement, its purpose is “to promote discovery in Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity” through a global community of over 50,000 space and Earth scientists conducting new research in these fields.
The Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth and Space Science was established in 2015 by Sunanda Basu. Each year two awards are given to two early career scientists from Africa whose research “shows the focus and premise of making outstanding contributions to research in Earth and space sciences.” One award is in space science and the other in Earth or ocean sciences.
Wanliss’s role in the committee will be to review nominees for this award. He is also invited to AGU’s Honors Program events and activities, as well as to AGU’s prestigious Fall Meeting hosted in San Francisco.
Upon hearing his invitation to this committee, Wanliss said that he was honored and “very happy to be considered” for the position.
A member of the AGU for two decades, and serving once as National Executive, Wanliss first became involved in the organization when he himself was a student conducting research when his paper was awarded recognition by the AGU. The award offered him encouragement in his field of study, and he values this encouragement for the growing scientific community.
Wanliss also enjoys the opportunity for PC students to attend the Fall Meetings in order to build their network with acclaimed scientists and up-and-coming ones, as well. He recounts an especially memorable meeting he attended a few years ago, where he took a group of students with him. For one student in particular, “the trip was a very meaningful one,” as that student now has gone on to pursue a Ph.D. in Earth science and geophysics.
Among its influences and impacts on student researchers or early career scientists, the AGU offers them the chance to meet and discuss new research fields and topics, to publicize their own work, and to develop key relationships with other global scientists.
Wanliss originally hails from South Africa, and so with his role as committee member for the Africa Award for Research Excellence in Earth and Space Science, he values his background knowledge of the continent and will also consider the sensitivity of making good judgments on those nominees’ works he will review. “Something very simple can be very good,” Wanliss said. “More resources do not necessarily make the best science.”
Wanliss will serve his term as committee member from Jan. 1 to Dec. 2, 2016.
Written by Allison Cooke, a junior English major, media studies, journalism track minor from Winnsboro, S.C.