Noah Diffenbaugh receives AGU’s William Kaula Award

Climate scientist NOAH DIFFENBAUGH, the Kara J Foundation Professor, has been awarded the William Kaula Award by the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

Noah Diffenbaugh
Noah Diffenbaugh

The award is given in recognition of unselfish service to the scientific community through extraordinary dedication to and exceptional efforts on behalf of AGU’s publications program. Diffenbaugh served as editor of the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) from 2009 to 2019, including a four-year term as editor-in-chief from 2014 to 2018.

“Being an editor has been the most enriching learning experience and community engagement experience that I’ve had professionally,” said Diffenbaugh, who was recognized at the AGU Fall Meeting in December 2020.

Diffenbaugh said the achievement he is most proud of is the diversification of the journal’s editorial board. During Diffenbaugh’s term as editor-in-chief, GRL also changed its submittal, editorial and review policies, and increased visibility of research through editors’ highlights, commentary pieces, press releases and social media promotion.

His role, like other editorial positions with peer-reviewed scientific journals, has required an exceptional commitment. “It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of sacrifice,” he said. “It takes being willing to be criticized, and being willing to constructively deal with criticism.”

But the commitment has been worthwhile – in more ways than one. As climate editor, the process of handling the peer review of many thousands of papers over a decade opened up new research avenues by stretching his knowledge and thinking, Diffenbaugh said.

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