Two from U-M named department’s first female AGU Fellows


Two female University of Michigan scientists are among 54 earth and space researchers named AGU Fellows by the American Geophysical Union.

Rebecca Lange and Marin K. Clark are the first women from LSA’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences to receive the honor, which is considered one of the highest in the earth and space sciences.

Lange and Clark, who have both chaired the department that is informally known as Michigan Earth, are among the scientists elected 2022 fellows by AGU, an international society that promotes Earth and space sciences and that publishes more than 20 peer-reviewed scientific journals.

This year’s AGU Fellows earned the honor because of “remarkable innovation and/or sustained scientific impact,” according to AGU. “In addition, each Fellow embodies AGU’s values by fostering equity, integrity, diversity, and open science; by mentoring; through public engagement; and in their communications.”

Each year, AGU names fewer than one-tenth of 1% of its members as new AGU Fellows. The organization will formally recognize the 2022 fellows during its annual meeting Dec. 12-16 in Chicago.

Lange, the Alexander N. Halliday Collegiate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and professor of earth and environmental sciences, chaired the department from 2010-14. Clark, professor of earth and environmental sciences, took the helm in 2018 and is the current chair.

Clark, a geomorphologist and geophysicist, measures and interprets Earth surface processes that shape mountains over geological time and that trigger disasters during earthquakes and major storms. In particular, she studies the mechanisms that initiate landsliding and develops models that predict future landslide hazards.

“I’m honored to receive this recognition and grateful to my colleagues who took the time to nominate me, along with the award committees that spend a lot of time doing consuming, hidden work,” Clark said. “Any success I receive is equally shared with the amazing collaborators, students and postdocs I’ve worked with through the years, here in the U.S. and abroad.”

Lange, an experimental high-temperature geochemist, studies how magmatism and volcanism have shaped the evolution of the solid Earth and is especially interested in the rate and mechanism by which continental crust forms at subduction zones.

That interest takes her research group to the Mexican Volcanic Arc, where it  documents magma eruption rates, the proportions of different erupted magma types, and the role of water in creating the unique compositional character and stratification of continental crust.

“What makes this honor so special to me is being able to share it with my colleague Marin Clark,” Lange said. “Marin is married and a mother of two daughters, which proves that women can have a rich family life and a highly successful academic career in earth science. That is the most important message to send to young women today.”

Only 13% of current AGU Fellows are female, according to Joel Blum, Jerry Keeler Distinguished University Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, John D. MacArthur Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and professor of earth and environmental sciences. Blum is one of three other current Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences faculty members who are also AGU Fellows.

The other two current Michigan Earth faculty members who are AGU Fellows are Jeffrey Alt, research professor and lecturer II in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Youxue Zhang, James R. O’Neil Collegiate Professor of Geological Sciences and professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Joyce Penner, the Ralph J. Cicerone Distinguished University Professor of Atmospheric Science and professor of climate and space sciences and engineering in the College of Engineering, was named an AGU Fellow in 1999.


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