Graduate Research Award

thunderstorm_1The AGU Natural Hazards Focus Group seeks nominations for its new award to young scientists engaged in studies of natural hazards and risks. This award recognizes one or more promising young scientists for outstanding contributions achieved during their Ph.D. research. Accordingly, eligibility is restricted to current Ph.D. students and those who have completed the requirements for a Ph.D. degree up to 12 months prior to the nomination deadline. Nominees should be AGU members.

The major criterion in the evaluation of candidates nominated to this award is the impact (or potential impact) of the research on the field of natural hazards. The award consists of $500 for support of travel to the AGU Fall meeting, a certificate, and recognition at the Natural Hazards Reception. The awardee(s) will have the opportunity to deliver an invited paper in an appropriate Natural Hazards session at the AGU Fall meeting. The awardee(s) will also be announced in EOS.

In order to be considered by the selection committee, nominations should be received by April 15, 2017. Please submit your nominations online via the AGU Honors webpage.



All nominations should include

  • a letter of nomination
  • a curriculum vitae
  • two supporting letters, coming from outside of the nominee degree-granting institution, and
  • up to three PDF reprints (or preprints) of the nominee’s work.

Graduate Research Award Committee

  • Alik Ismail-Zadeh, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany (Chair)
  • Antarpreet Jutla, West Virginia University
  • Robert Dahlgren, California State University
  • Phu Nguyen, UC Irvine

Past Award Winners

  • 2016 Graduate Research Award Winner: Dr. Tarsilo Girona
  • 2015 Graduate Research Award Winner: Dr. Linyin Cheng
  • 2012 Graduate Research Award Winner: Dr. James Belanger
  • 2011 Graduate Research Award Winner: Dr. Valentin Gischig
  • 2010 Graduate Research Award Winner: Dr. Ning Lin
  • 2009 Graduate Research Award Winner: Dr. Meththika Vithanage

2016 Graduate Research Award Winner: Dr. Tarsilo Girona

Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Georgia Institute of Technology – Chris Huber research group.

Dr. Tarsilo Girona obtained his PhD in Earth Sciences, physical Volcanology, in 2015 from the Earth Observatory of Singapore – Nanyang Technological University where he later completed a research fellowship. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Geophysics from Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. Dr. Girona has published 4 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Geophysical Research. He has submitted one paper and is preparing three others for publication. He has presented at twelve conferences, including AGU in 2014, been awarded 9 grants and awards, and received four invitations to speak at several universities, including Stanford.

He works to quantify the processes that precede volcanic eruptions through theoretical and experimental studies while developing new techniques to monitor volcanic plumes and active volcanoes. Dr. Girona collaborates with government agencies which may allow his findings to be implemented for hazard mitigation. He has been nominated for the AGU Natural Hazards Graduate Award by Fidel Costa Rodriguez from the Earth Observatory of Singapore.

Congratulations to Dr. Girona, the 2016 winner of the AGU Natural Hazards Focus Group Award for Graduate Research!

2011 Graduate Research Award Winner: Dr. Valentin Gischig

PostDoctoral Fellow, Swiss Seismological Service, ETH Zurich
Dr. Valentin Gischig received his M.Sc. in Geophysics and Glaciology at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, in 2007. After a five month internship at Geoscience Australia, Canberra, in 2007, he started in a PhD project about rock slope instability in the Chair of Engineering Geology at ETH Zurich. He finished his PhD thesis in May 2011 with the thesis title: ‘Kinematics and failure mechanisms of the Randa rock slope instability (Switzerland)’, which was supervised by Dr. Jeffrey R. Moore, Dr. Florian Amann, Dr. Keith F. Evans and Prof. Simon Loew. Since October 2011, Valentin Gischig is a postdoc in the Swiss Seismological Service, ETH Zurich, working in a project related to induced seismicity in enhanced geothermal systems. Dr. Gischig published 5 papers and submitted 4 papers for publications in peer-reviewed journals. He has been nominated for the AGU Natural Hazards Graduate Award by Prof. Simon Loew.

Congratulations to Dr. Gischig, the 2011 winner of the AGU Natural Hazards Focus Group Award for Graduate Research!

2010 Graduate Research Award Winner: Dr. Ning Lin

ning_lin_GR2010NOAA C&GC PostDoctoral Fellow, MIT

Dr. Ning Lin obtained her PhD from Princeton in June 2010, her M.S. from Texas Tech in 2005, and B.S. from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China, in 2002. Being in China, Ning studied local wind forces on tall buildings. In Texas Tech she investigated the aerodynamics and trajectory of wind-borne debris. In Princeton, as a research assistant to James Smith, Ning studied extreme winds, heavy rainfall and storm surge from hurricane Isabel (2003). Under a supervision of her PhD adviser, Erik Vanmarcke, she developed an innovative wind-borne debris risk model based on Poisson random measure theory and integrated the debris risk model and a pressure damage model to create a structural vulnerability model to study cumulative wind damage to residential neighborhoods during storm passage. She also played a key role in developing collaborations with the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and in incorporating advanced numerical weather forecasting models into hurricane risk analysis. Ning Lin visited MIT in 2009 for several weeks and worked with Kerry Emanuel on hurricane storm surge risk assessment. Starting in July 2010 Dr. Lin will be a postdoc at MIT to continue this study. She published 10 journal articles and 10 conference papers. She has been nominated by Erik Vanmarcke from Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University.

Congratulations to Dr. Lin, the 2010 winner of the AGU Natural Hazards Focus Group Award for Graduate Research!


2009 Graduate Research Award Winner: Dr. Meththika Vithanage

VithanageGroup Leader
Chemical and Environmental Systems Modeling Research Group
Institute of Fundamental Studies,
Kandy, Sri Lanka

Dr. Vithanage got her PhD on “Effect of Tsunami on Coastal Aquifers: Field Studies and Tank Experiments” under the supervision of Professors Karsten Jensen and Peter Engesgaard in the Department of Geology and Geography at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark in February 2009. She has been nominated by Dr. Jayantha Obeysekera from South Florida Water Management District.

Our sincere congratulations to Meththika with this distinction and very best wishes for her future career!