Rebecca Barnes, winner of AGU’s 2019 Sulzman Award
Rebecca Barnes

Rebecca Barnes exemplifies excellence and leadership in research, teaching, mentoring, and service. Becca’s research is transforming our understanding of biogeochemical processes at the interface between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, with a focus on responses to anthropogenic and climatic disturbance. Becca established an outstanding record of mentoring and teaching through unwavering support of students and leadership in national initiatives to promote the careers of women and historically minoritized groups in the geosciences. Becca masterfully achieved integration of research into her teaching. In her first 4.5 years at Colorado College, she mentored 13 senior theses and coauthored with 14 students while maintaining a productive and well-funded research program of her own. Becca engages her students in creative ways to learn and communicate scientific information. Last year, she launched a class project to write Wikipedia profiles of women scientists, a project featured on the blog, inspiring others across the country. As an instructor in the Spatio-Temporal Isotope Analytics Lab (SPATIAL) isotope biogeochemistry course, Becca has inspired multiple cohorts of students and faculty. As one of her letter writers states, “Becca is a powerhouse, both in terms of her research work and her advocacy and leadership within the academic community.”

Through her leadership in the Earth Science Women’s Network, Becca has made immeasurable contributions to building an international peer-mentoring community for women in the geosciences. She single-handedly manages multiple websites and online community resources. Becca has developed early-career professional development workshops, now a regular feature of AGU’s Fall Meeting. She co-organized a workshop with leaders from 500 Women Scientists, producing a guide with best strategies for developing inclusive scientific meetings, profiled in Nature. Currently she serves as co–principal investigator on two major multi-institutional National Science Foundation awards, where she engages in interdisciplinary research on strategies for building diverse, equitable, and inclusive climates from undergraduate to faculty levels.

—Erika Marín-Spiotta, University of Wisconsin–Madison


It is an incredible honor to receive the Sulzman Award. I am thankful to Erika Marín-Spiotta for nominating me, my letter writers for their support, and all those who volunteer for the Biogeosciences section. I truly believe that science is a team sport, and I am so appreciative of the amazing team of scientists that I work with. This includes the undergraduate students at Colorado College who diligently wade streams and climb mountains for samples; they are the backbone of my research program. Their enthusiasm for learning is inspiring, and working with them in the field, the lab, and the classroom is the most rewarding part of my job and without a doubt makes me a better scientist and person. I am thankful to Gabe Bowen and the larger SPATIAL isotope family for teaching me so much about how to incorporate research into the classroom and the importance of truly loving what you do. It is always exciting to meet the early-career scientists, knowing I will leave wiser and curious about questions I did not even know to ask a week prior. I am grateful for the opportunities that the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) provides me to give back to the geoscience community. I am especially proud of the work we have done to develop evidence-based mentoring programs and trainings to improve workplace climate. It is truly inspiring to see so many scientists working together to make our community safer and more inclusive. I am humbled to work alongside the awesome women of ESWN and 500 Women Scientists, Erika Marín-Spiotta, Emily Fischer, and Jane Zelikova; you inspire everything from classroom lessons to political action. I am indebted to you and my network of mentors and mentees who provide strength and resilience and inspire me to pay it forward.

—Rebecca Barnes, Colorado College, Colorado Springs


(2020), Barnes receives 2019 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring, Eos, 101, Published on 27 March 2020.

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