Sullivan Award Committee

Named for the renowned science writer of The New York Times, the first Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism was presented to Sullivan in 1989. Effective in 2000, it was recast as an award for science feature writing, defined as work prepared with a deadline of more than one week. It is presented annually to a journalist for a single report or series in any medium except books that makes Earth and space science accessible and interesting to the general public. Journalists typically nominate themselves by submitting their own work from the previous year. Any member of AGU may also make a nomination.


Joseph Wartman, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington


Bas den Hond, Freelance, Drewsville, New Hampshire
David Hosansky, UCAR, Boulder, Colorado
Liz Kalaugher, environmentalresearchweb, Bristol, United Kingdom
Friederike Elly Luise Otto, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

Staff Partner

Nanci Bompey

Committee Charge

  • Select the recipient of the Sullivan Award; the final decision is subject for approval of the Council Leadership Team.
  • Abide by AGU’s Conflict of Interest Policy.
  • Interpret the scope of the award broadly and keep in mind that as a Union award, it should reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the Earth and space sciences.
  • Promote excellence and transparency and allow broad input and recognition beyond disciplinary awards.
  • Promote diversity and commitment to equity to ensure that the awards are sufficiently representative of underrepresented groups.
  • State, as part of the award recommendation to the Council Leadership Team, the number of nominations considered, how many of those were self-nominated and how many were nominated by others.
  • Define the process used for reaching the decision.

Work Plan 2018-2019

In addition to selecting Sullivan Awardees,

  • Provide feedback to AGU about the Sullivan Award’s selection processes to help insure that the program is operating maximally in terms of the relevant goals of the Union’s strategic plan;
  • Discuss whether new and expanded approaches to soliciting nominations are needed and, if so, recommend approaches that should be tried and how they could be carried out;
  • Recommend and implement strategies and initiatives on diversity; and
  • Participate in training and orientations conducted by the Honors and Recognition committee to be fully informed of policies, processes and program elements.

Questions about this committee can be directed to Nanci Bompey (