Carnegie Scientist Anna Michalak awarded AGU Simpson Medal

Washington, DC—Carnegie Department of Global Ecology Director Anna Michalak will be honored with the American Geophysical Union’s Simpson Medal. It will be presented at the organization’s annual meeting in December.

Each year, AGU—a professional society of more than 130,000 experts in the Earth and space sciences—selects two or three members “who have made transformative scientific advances or breakthroughs in the Earth and space sciences, have demonstrated strong leadership, and provided outstanding service to science and society" for this recognition.

Early in her career, Michalak pioneered new approaches for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions and for pinpointing how climate change is impacting the ability of plants and soils to sequester carbon. More recently, she has shed light on climate change impacts on coastal, lake, and river water quality in the United States and around the world. For example, work conducted with her students has shown how changes in rainfall patterns, temperature, and even climate mitigation strategies can exacerbate harmful algal blooms. Michalak has authored over 150 publications and has mentored over two dozen doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows.

Beyond her research, Michalak has led efforts to better coordinate research in the scientific community, including leading the development of the U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Plan, chairing the Scientific Advisory Board for the European Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS), and serving on multiple committees for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Michalak has been a member of Carnegie’s faculty since 2011 and was appointed Director of the Department of Global Ecology in 2020. She also holds appointments as Professor, by courtesy, in the Department of Earth System Science and the Department of Biology at Stanford University.

“Anna’s work takes a rigorous mathematical approach to creative problem-solving, which enables her to tackle some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. Her work enables breakthroughs in our understanding of anthropogenic impacts on global ecosystems from key watersheds to the Earth’s atmosphere,” said Carnegie President Eric Isaacs. “Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition of her scientific achievement and record of strong leadership.”