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Andy Green Receives 2019 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Ocean Sciences

Andy Green was awarded the 2019 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Ocean Sciences at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 11 December 2019 in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given in recognition of “significant work that shows the focus and promise of making outstanding contributions to research in Earth or ocean sciences.”

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Andy Green, winner of AGU’s 2019 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Ocean Science
Andy Green

Dr. Andrew Green is an exceptional young marine geoscientist, actively engaged in placing the African continent’s marine geology in the international spotlight. His research career began when South African marine geology was at an all-time low because of a lack of academic expertise. He has, since his Ph.D. 10 years ago, become the hinge point behind the resurrection of South Africa’s status as an international member of the marine geology community. His research unit, the only such in Africa, is a vibrant and productive center that draws international collaboration and students from countries across the continent and abroad.

Dr. Green’s work has focused on examining coastal and shelf geomorphology and sedimentology in response to forcing induced by sea level change. His holistic treatment of shelf-coastal morphologic systems in the context of major changes in sea level has been novel and has confirmed the existence of meltwater pulses in SE African waters. Given the dense clustering of urban areas along the SE African coast, the detailed understanding of how past shorelines in the region responded to and were modified by high rates of sea level rise will be valuable data sets to adapt to and mitigate future sea level changes that are predicted to be as high as 2 meters by the end of the 21st century.

Dr. Green is a prolific scholar, producing significant research results in a part of the world that is comparatively poorly studied. To date, he has published 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 30 of these as first author and 23 as project leader of student-authored work. This emphasis on student-driven publication is a major boost to capacity development and skill training for young African scientists.

Dr. Green has significantly expanded African access to complex and expensive geophysical equipment and software. Considering that few universities in the world own their own bathymetric and seismic acquisition systems, he has positioned his team as the central touchpoint for research on the seafloor and coastlines of the continent. Dr. Green has a strong dedication to the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban; he was appointed lecturer while still a Ph.D. student, promoted to tenured lecturer in 2010 and associate professor in 2016, and serves as the academic leader of the Geology Department. His passion to gain experience in various geophysical tools and reinvest it into the South African tertiary education sector led to him being named an African Fulbright scholar in 2018.

—John A. Goff, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin

 

Response

I am deeply honored to have been awarded the 2019 AGU Africa Award for Research Excellence in Ocean Sciences. I would like to thank AGU for the award and for placing Africa in the spotlight. I am encouraged now, more than ever, to spread the good news of our wonderful continent. Much is yet to be done from this part of the world!

I am indebted to my nominator, John Goff. In 2005, John selflessly reached out to a young Ph.D. student, located on the far side of the planet, with much-needed inputs to his first scientific paper. That student was me, and that was where my career began.

Peter Ramsay employed me throughout my M.Sc. and Ph.D. Under Pete’s kind guidance, I was exposed to every facet of shelf geology possible. If there was a piece of equipment that could scan the seafloor, I saw it in action. Much of what I have learned was gleaned from Pete during the months spent sailing the Indian Ocean in the various rust buckets we called survey vessels.

Steve McCourt nurtured my early academic career. As the head of department, he was a source of unwavering support and advice. Steve taught me to think strategically and to seek the advantages amid the somewhat chaotic South African tertiary education system. My great collaborator and dear friend Andrew Cooper took me under his wing in the latter 8 years. The places visited, cold beers shared, papers written, and advice given will remain unmatched. Likewise, Burg Flemming has been an enthusiastic supporter and keen scientific sounding board. He too has provided me with many opportunities I think would not exist otherwise. Of course, I need to thank those who wrote letters of support for my nomination, Joe Kelley and Edward Anthony. I am deeply grateful.

Last, I thank my family. My parents supported my love affair with the ocean since I was a child. The many early-morning car rides to the beach, sunburns, and other injuries were all worth it. Your support has been the greatest gift. To my wife, Lauren, my greatest advocate, this is all meaningless without you. Last, I would like to dedicate this award to our yet unborn child. I hope this will prompt some of the changes needed for you to see the beaches and coasts of the world as we did as children.

—Andy Green, Geological Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Citation: AGU (2020), Andy Green receives 2019 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Ocean Science, Eos, 101, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020EO140485. Published on 02 March 2020.
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