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Konecky Receives 2019 Nanne Weber Early Career Award

Bronwen L. Konecky received the 2019 Nanne Weber Early Career Award at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2019, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is presented annually and “recognizes significant contributions to paleoceanography and paleoclimatology research.”

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Bronwen L. Konecky, winner of AGU’s 2019 Nanne Weber Early Career Award
Bronwen L. Konecky

Dr. Bronwen Konecky has produced numerous paleoclimate records that are widely known to be some of the highest-fidelity records from the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool. Her careful analyses of leaf wax hydrogen isotopes from lake sediments have broadened our understanding of the tropical hydrological cycle from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) to the Common Era.

Yet Dr. Konecky’s expertise extends far beyond paleolimnology. She has also designed and run new isotope-enabled climate model simulations for comparison with proxy data. Her work on the LGM is providing new avenues for model–data comparison in a period of Earth’s history with few simulations containing stable water isotope tracers. Bronwen not only succeeded in producing these invaluable experiments, but also did so after having already mastered lab-based organic and stable isotope geochemistry. The fact that she excels in both of these complementary branches of our field is exceptional. Her cutting-edge work is crucial for encouraging broader collaborations between modelers and data generators, improving model physics, and advancing paleodata interpretations.

Dr. Konecky is a demonstrated and visible leader in our field. One of her most monumental contributions is her championing of the Iso2k project, compiling water isotope proxy records spanning the past 2,000 years. This has been no small feat; she has brought together researchers from around the world and from widely different disciplines. Iso2k is poised to greatly enhance our understanding of hydroclimate dynamics operating on human-relevant timescales. Bronwen is also a role model and a professional mentor to many. She is a person who builds up and supports her peers. She embodies Emily Bernhardt’s words about academia: “Everyone here is smart—distinguish yourself by being kind.”

I am delighted to speak to Bronwen’s many outstanding contributions to paleoceanography and paleoclimatology and greatly look forward to the excellent science forthcoming from her lab at Washington University in St. Louis.

—Sylvia G. Dee, Rice University, Houston, Texas

Response

I am honored and truly humbled to be the second recipient of the Nanne Weber Early Career Award. I am deeply grateful to the small group of people who surprised me with this nomination and for the effort it took to put my name forward.

When I decided to pursue paleoclimatology, I naïvely thought that learning to blend proxy data and climate modeling would simply be a technical, methodological challenge. Not so. It is a human one. I was fortunate to find a Ph.D. adviser, Jim Russell, who took a chance on me despite my unusual career background and who continues to be a valued collaborator and mentor. Kim Cobb welcomed me into her lab of corals and stalagmites and encouraged my creativity despite my expertise in completely different (sedimentary) proxy systems. David Noone and Bette Otto-Bliesner coached me carefully and tirelessly on atmospheric science and on the ins and outs of climate modeling when I decided to take that plunge. These scientists taught me that at the heart of truly interdisciplinary science is the heart of a truly patient coach.

I am grateful to my collaborators, especially the brilliant early-career researchers in the Iso2k project, who continually teach me and challenge me; to the Earth Science Women’s Network for the hope and practical advice during many difficult times; to my husband, Chris Havlin, for supporting me during the maelstrom-like transition to faculty life; to my faculty mentors at Washington University; and to Jack Hutchings and Nadia Sae-Lim for their dedication as we get our lab up and running.

I am inspired by Dr. Nanne Weber herself, a builder of bridges between the paleoclimate data-generating and modeling communities and an advocate for women in science. I am humbled to receive an award in honor of such a scientist.

—Bronwen L. Konecky, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Mo.

Citation: AGU (2020), Konecky receives 2019 Nanne Weber Early Career Award, Eos, 101, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020EO149082. Published on 15 September 2020.
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