Carol Finn (left), now AGU past president, talks with Robin Chase (center), founder and former CEO of Zipcar, and Wendy Schmidt (right), president of the Schmidt Family Foundation, during the AGU Presidential Forum. Credit: © Gary Wagner Photos.

For nearly 5 decades, AGU’s Fall Meeting has been an experience like no other, with luminaries and students engaging in deep discussions during a poster presentation, old friends grabbing lunch at their favorite watering hole between sessions, exhibitors talking about the latest research tools and services as attendees wander through the Exhibit Hall, and colleagues gathering for impromptu collaborations around a laptop on the floor in the hallways of the Moscone Center.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell welcomes questions during the Union Agency Lecture. Credit: © Gary Wagner Photos.

The passionate, innovative, and welcoming community of nearly 23,000 scientists who gathered for the 2014 meeting marked a continuation of this legacy. As you shared your knowledge, discussed solutions, and developed new collaborations, you embodied AGU’s mission of “Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity.”

For a week, the Fall Meeting offered an extensive schedule of scientific presentations, skill-building workshops, and networking and social events.

Celebrating Groundbreaking Research

The scientific program exceeded all previous records, with more than 23,000 abstracts submitted.

Kathryn Sullivan, under secretary of commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric administrator, offers insights on how to build resilient cities. Credit: © Gary Wagner Photos.

Nearly 50 town hall meetings on topics such as scientific drilling in polar regions and advancing understanding, monitoring, and prediction of drought also took place, and in addition to more than 20 named lectures, the meeting featured 4 Union lectures:

Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, talks about the unique role geoscientists can play in reducing climate threats. Credit:  © Gary Wagner Photos.
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, talks about the unique role geoscientists can play in reducing climate threats. Credit:  © Gary Wagner Photos.

AGU’s commitment to fostering interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research was also clear. The SWIRL program, which organizes select sessions from the various sections into themes, made its third appearance at this meeting. It was also joined by a new effort: sessions jointly organized and planned by two or more sections and/or focus groups.

Fostering Professional Development

The Fall Meeting offered you opportunities to improve your professional skills in a variety of areas through more than 30 workshops, ranging from “Getting on the Tenure Track and Succeeding” to “Science Storytelling Through Video.” Skill-building programs for science educators were widely available and prominently showcased, with the return of the popular Geophysical Information for Teachers (GIFT) workshops, as well as the addition of new workshops, such as the session on “Integrating Serious Gaming into Climate Change Education.” There was also an extensive program and numerous networking opportunities in the Career Center, which catered to all types of audiences, including job seekers and students.

Showcasing Science for the Public

As a part of its commitment to science and society, each year we host public programming on the Sunday prior to the meeting. The 2014 Pubic Lecture featured scientists from the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, which launched in November 2013 and arrived at Mars in October 2014.

After the lecture, attendees could visit Exploration Station, the family-friendly event that features hands-on activities designed to teach children about the wonder and excitement of Earth and space science. Exploration Station experienced record–setting participation, with 975 attendees.

Making Connections and Highlighting the Best of the Best

We were also excited to be able to offer access to a comprehensive and inspiring Exhibit Hall—the biggest in Fall Meeting history, with more than 280 exhibitors from 25 countries. For the second year in a row, the Ice Breaker reception was held in conjunction with the opening of the Exhibit Hall on Monday evening, and judging by the crowd of people gathered at the door as I was cutting the ceremonial ribbon, it was a great success.

Of course, the Fall Meeting would not be complete without chances to chat with and meet your friends and colleagues, so AGU continued to provide a full schedule of social and networking events throughout the week. AGU also stopped to recognize the outstanding achievements of 89 of our colleagues during the AGU Honors Ceremony, which included a reception and banquet.

Expanding Virtual Options

To help those of you who could not attend the meeting in person still be engaged in all of the great meeting programming, AGU continued to offer the extensive Virtual Options program. Hundreds of presentations and lectures were live-streamed, and all of the sessions that were live-streamed—plus several additional sessions—have been made available as video on demand.

AGU also continued to offer presenters the opportunity to upload an electronic copy of their posters to the Fall Meeting website. Currently, more than 2000 posters are available. As a new feature, video presentations of certain ePosters are now available.

Making Headlines

With more than 140 journalists in attendance at the meeting and even more tuning in online for live broadcasts of press conferences and streaming of sessions, news from the Fall Meeting was carried in newspapers and blogs and on television, radio stations, and websites around the world.

The growing importance of social media in science communications was also clearly felt during the meeting. #AGU14 trended at multiple points throughout the week, and the overall Twitter reach for the hashtag totaled more than 72 million.

The best Fall Meeting news stories and social media conversations are available on FM Buzz, the Fall Meeting’s “news and more” site.

Ensuring a Successful Fall Meeting

I want to recognize the efforts of everyone who was involved in making the 2014 Fall Meeting a success because without all of you, this important event would not be possible.

Thank you to those who submitted session proposals and abstracts. Your work is the backbone of the meeting, and your willingness to share your discoveries speaks to the sense of community that exists within the Earth and space science field.

Thank you to the Fall Meeting Program Committee, whose members worked tirelessly to organize all the amazing content into an event that would exceed all of our expectations and challenge us to think about our science in new and exciting ways.

And thank you to everyone who attended the meeting. Your enthusiasm permeated the halls of the Moscone Center, continuing the Fall Meeting’s legacy of excellence, collaboration, and innovation.

I hope to see you again for the 48th Annual AGU Fall Meeting—Monday, 14 December through Friday, 18 December 2015!

—Carol Finn, Past President, American Geophysical Union; email:

Citation: Finn, C. (2015), Working together to advance the Earth and space sciences, Eos, 96, doi:10.1029/2015EO023233. Published on 5 February 2015.

AGU Thanks Fall Meeting Sponsors

AGU thanks all of our generous sponsors whose sponsorships helped support the 2014 Fall Meeting and the events at the meeting.

Text © 2015. The authors. CC BY-NC 3.0
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