Scientific Trends Task Force

Christy Till, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

Robin Bell, Columbia University, New York, New York
Greg Beroza, Stanford University, Stanford, California
Nathan Bridges, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland
Catherine Chauvel, CNRS, University of Grenoble, Grenoble, France
Eric Davidson, Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
Maarten de Wit, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Andrea Donnellan, NASA JPL, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
Rong Fu, University of Texas, Austin, Texas
Terri Hogue, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado
Kelly Klima, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
James Klimchuk, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Heliophysics Division, Greenbelt, Maryland
William Lau, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Earth Sciences Division, Greenbelt, Maryland
Kersten Lehnert, Columbia University, New York, New York
William McKinnon, Washington University, Saint Louis, Missouri
Jim Murray, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
Mark Panning, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
Jonathan Patz, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
George Tsoflias, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
Tony Watts, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Eric Wood, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

Ex-Officio Member
Margaret Leinen, AGU President-elect

Staff Partner
Billy Williams, Director, Science

Task Force Charge

The Scientific Trends Task Force will work on behalf of AGU Council to identify and summarize key scientific issues and trends either currently underway, or anticipated to be underway across the Earth and space sciences over three envisioned time horizons: current, 2-5 years, and 5+ years. This work will also include scientific changes in trans-disciplinary (i.e., inter-disciplinary) areas related to Earth and space sciences. The output of this Task Force will be used to help guide Council’s role in formulating AGU policy and programs that support the research of the Earth and space science communities, in generating and deliberating science-related ideas (e.g., meetings and publications-related decisions), and in advising on science and science-related issues. This work will also be used to help build awareness of potential issues and opportunities that AGU should be aware of as it organizes for continued leadership in advancing and promoting discovery in Earth and space science, including honoring scientific achievement. Broader external trends impacting the sciences, such as R&D funding trends, or science talent pool and workforce-related issues are not the focus of this group.

The work of this task force is to be accomplished through surveys of sections to identify leading indicators of scientific trends such as the trends associated with recently funded proposals, scientific meeting abstract keyword and topics, topics of new journals, strategic planning documents of scientific agencies and organizations, recent advances in tools and techniques for data manipulation and analysis, and current accelerating trends related to environmental impacts and understanding. The work will also pull heavily from the knowledge and experiences of AGU Section leaders, AGU journal editors, and AGU members through surveys, as well as the previous trends analysis work conducted on behalf of AGU Council and Board.

The requested product of this task force is a summary report, not to exceed 25 pages, identifying key scientific trends for Earth and Space sciences. The report is to include related trans-disciplinary sciences, and is recommended to be segregated in the above mentioned time horizons of current, near term (2-5 years), and longer term (5+ years). While the work of this task force will be completed in 5 months, the task force should also make recommendations on mechanisms for the Council to more formally keep abreast of scientific trends into the future.

Proposed task force composition and criteria
The Scientific Trends Task Force will have the following targeted composition:
• 12-16 members
• no less than 12 members from AGU council
• no less than 4 members from outside the United States to help assure an international perspective
• no less than 2 early-career scientists
• broad representation and diversity from across AGU Sections
• no less than 2 representatives from outside current AGU section structure
• minimum 2 persons overlap with AGU Affiliation task force
• the AGU President-elect will serve as an ex-officio member

Because of an urgent need for this work to be completed in time for its report to be utilized as a key input at a September 11-12 Council meeting, the work of this task force will be completed over a 5-month timeline with a report delivered prior to August 25. We anticipate the committee will meet 3-4 times during this period, primarily virtually, but with at least one face-to-face meeting required. The following are general targeted dates:
• April 15 – task force appointment completed
• Early May – First virtual meeting to review scope, data-gathering techniques
• June 15 – First data surveys underway
• Mid-July – Second committee meeting (in person) to review and digest the gathered trends information, begin writing assignments and suggest any data gaps
• August 15 – Third and final committee meeting, a virtual meeting to review and adjust final report

Scientific Trends Examples

Examples of scientific trends in advancing the practice of science and scientific understanding

  1. Earth Stewardship Science and the new trans-disciplinary thinking (Recently Emerged)
  2. Understanding of Geoecodynamics and geodynamic links between LIP mantle source evolution and upper mantle heterogeneity (Emerging Now) –
  3. Availability of new sample suites and mega data (Recently Emerged/emerging now)

Examples of scientific trends with direct implications at the interface of Science and Society

  1. Geo-Health (Recently Emerged/Emerging Now) – the understanding and application of geospatial analysis and technology to the study of public health and epidemiology
  2. Citizen Science and public participation in scientific research (Emerging Now)
  3. Geoengineering (Emerging now) application of geosciences, where mechanics, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and geology are used to understand and shape our interaction with the earth