Nicole S. Lovenduski

Prof. Nicole (“Nikki”) Lovenduski is an ideal recipient of the AGU Ocean Sciences Early Career Award. She is a bright, motivated, talented scientist with an extraordinarily good sense of what is important and where she wants to go. She is an original thinker and exhibits endless enthusiasm for her research. In addition to her outstanding record of scholarship, she is a great teacher and a wonderful mentor to her students. In her still-young career, she has collected already several distinctions, including the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award and a Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow from the National Academy of Sciences.

Nikki’s research interest concerns the global carbon cycle and its relationship with climate. Her primary focus has been the Southern Ocean, which is one of the most crucial regions when it comes to understanding the role of the ocean in the global carbon cycle. I am extremely impressed by her contributions to the field so far, not only because she tackles problems of great importance but also by the clever and novel ways she approaches them. Excellent examples of this include the use of the large ensemble simulations of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) climate model to assess the role of forced versus unforced variability and the predictability of the ocean carbon sink. In addition, Nikki has an exceptional talent for explaining her work clearly and with great insight. Thus, it comes as no surprise that many of her contributions have turned into milestones in our field. It is thus an honor to cite her “for her innovative and highly insightful contributions to the understanding of the nature and variations of the Southern Ocean carbon sink.”

—Nicolas Gruber, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland


Thank you, Niki, for the citation, and thanks also to Matt England for his letter of support. I am excited to have been selected for this honor and extremely humbled to join the other recipients of this award.

Ocean science is nothing if not collaborative, and I am grateful to the many colleagues who have contributed to shaping my research path: my research advisers Niki Gruber and Taka Ito, my frequent collaborators at NCAR and NOAA, and the supportive faculty in my department and institute at the University of Colorado Boulder. My graduate students and postdoctoral researchers played a critical role in expanding my research interests and forcing me to think about problems I hadn’t considered before: Natalie Freeman, Chris Conrad, Dave Munro, Kristen Krumhardt, Riley Brady, Cheryl Harrison, Geneviève Elsworth, and Holly Olivarez.

Finally, I am grateful to have a family who shares in my successes and failures and keeps me going in the right direction. My young daughters tell me that when they grow up, they want to “study the ocean, like Mommy.” And this continues to inspire me every day.

The ocean is the great unknown in the Earth system, and I suspect that many of us oceanographers are drawn to its mystery and surprises. It’s this curiosity that maintains our perseverance for collecting observations in sometimes difficult conditions, tuning the model for months on end to have a reasonable integration, or continually restarting our computers when MATLAB crashes while postprocessing satellite data. This perseverance is critical to driving our science forward, and I am proud to be part of this community of pioneers.

Thank you.

—Nicole S. Lovenduski, University of Colorado Boulder


(2020), Lovenduski receives 2019 Ocean Sciences Early Career Award, Eos, 101, Published on 28 September 2020.

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