Planetary Science Students

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Planetary Science Students

Because a scientific career is often more than a 9-to-5 commitment, both in terms of time and passion, all of us benefit from engaging with our community on many levels. The AGU Planetary Sciences Section offers opportunities for broadening the overall educational experience of students and the AGU community, and we encourage participation in collaborative projects and activities, leadership and professional development, and volunteer opportunities.

Want to see more student Planetary Science student involvement? Volunteer today!

There are two types of volunteer programs that everyone is welcome to join.

One is volunteering in AGU-wide events in exchange of complimentary student registration. Descriptions of the positions are written by the AGU staff who request their help. Students help with the Student Lounge, Student Mixer, Student Breakfast, Honors Ceremony, remote poster presentations, and e-Poster surveys.

The other type is volunteering in various fun and creative events within the Planetary Science Session. There may be some complimentary student registration available every year for these activities as well. There are many good ideas and suggestions that are waiting for volunteers, including:

  • Planetary science student monthly webinars: about two years ago the Hydrology section started holding webinars during the year so students could give talks to their peers all over the world. These featured a student talk followed by a short talk by a high profile scientist to make it more appealing for people to join. These would be a great addition to events within the Planetary Science Section throughout the year, and would be a fantastic way for students to present their work within the planetary community. Panel discussions (and the like) are also a possibility. If you’re interested in this idea and think you’d like to be in charge of it, please contact Alex (see contact info above)!
  • Social events at Fall Meeting: There are a range of activities we could organize for students and early career scientists, ranging from movie nights to dinners to brewery tours. If you have any ideas contact Alex (info above).

Alex Morgan Student Representative

Alex Morgan

AGU Planetary Sciences Student Representative 2015-2016
Alex Morgan

Contact Alex Morgan if you are interested in getting involved, have any new ideas, or have any comment or question regarding AGU Planetary Sciences Session especially student activities!

Alex is a fourth year PhD student at the University of Virginia in the Department of Environmental Sciences. His primary research focus is in planetary geomorphology, particularly that of Mars. He uses a combination of orbital data, landform evolution modeling, and field work at terrestrial analogues to investigate how geologic and climatic processes have affected planetary surfaces.


A collection of useful resources from across the web.

Alex's report from AGU 2014

Whether it was recent updates from Curiosity or a preview of New Horizons, the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting was packed full of exciting planetary science. And in between the scientific sessions there were a number of great social and networking events. Here are a few highlights from this year:

  • The results from the student survey are in (a big thanks to the outgoing student representative, Sona Hosseini, for all her hard work in building the survey), and will be released soon. The questions focused on the activities the planetary science students get involved with, and their relevance to the students’ future needs.
  • Student & Early Career Scientist Conference: This was the first year of the Student & Early Career Science Conference, which took place on Sunday, December 14th. I was personally unable to go (it was completely booked up) but from what I heard the event was a huge success. It was followed by a mixer at the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company. Next year the event will move to a bigger venue within Moscone to accommodate more students early career scientists.
  • Student lounge: The student lounge was launched at the 2013 Fall Meeting, and continued this year in the Moscone South Poster Hall. The student lounge, adjacent to the career center, was an area where students could take a break between sessions, recharge cell phones or laptops, work on their poster or presentation, meet up with friends, or network with future colleagues. The lounge had free coffee and snacks in the morning and afternoon. The student lounge was a great success; it was well attended and used by students from all the sections. I hosted a meeting with students in the planetary science section, and plan on doing so again next year.
  • Planetary Sciences/Space Physics Career Night Mixer: Consisting of a mixer and a panel discussion, this event was a great way to meet with scientists from academia, federal labs, and industry. I’d highly recommend for other students to attend next year: think of it as an early icebreaker with other students in your field, with the added benefit of getting a better understanding of what types of careers are available and how to purse them.
  • Student Breakfast: This was my first year making it to the bright and early student breakfast (7 am!), but it was very well attended, and was a great opportunity to meet other students as well AGU leadership, including section and focus group executive committees. I’d recommend all students in the section attend next year; it is early but is a great chance to network with your future colleagues. (not to mention a free breakfast!)
  • Student pop up talks: This was the first year of Pop-Up sessions, which were completely organized and run by students. These featured 5-minute interdisciplinary talks organized into two sessions, one for Water Sciences and another for Teaching and Career Challenges in Geoscience. I am looking into organizing a planetary science session next year, potentially through a collaboration with SPA or EPSP.
  • Student volunteer program: In this program students earn free registration for eight hours of volunteer time. As always there was high demand, and all positions were filled. Applications for the 2015 Fall Meeting should be open in October.
  • OSPA: About 100 students posters were judged this year (thanks judges!).
  • Student Representative Meeting: I, along with the other student Representatives had a very productive discussion with Kara Smedley, AGU Program Manager, Student Member Initiatives, about student activities within sections and focus groups. The Hydrology section continues to be the leader in student attendance at events.
  • Planetary Science Reception: As usual, the (sold out) Planetary Science Reception was a great success. Bill McKinnon, the outgoing chair of the Planetary Sciences Section introduced the incoming section leadership, and gave a brief overview of the current and future activities for the section.

Sona's report from AGU 2013:

We have had additions and improvements on student activities since last year, and all events were well attended.

  • The Planetary Science Student survey: Work on the survey started in 2011. It was my vision to learn about Planetary Science students’ needs before creating new activities. With help from AGU and other academic resources, I made a draft survey, which was combined with an AGU-produced student survey for all the sections. This global survey has a set of general questions for all AGU student members as well as a few questions specific to each section. The questions are focused on the activities the planetary science students get involved with, and their relevance to the students’ future needs. This survey will be released soon.
  • Student lounge: AGU’s first-ever Student Lounge was launched at the 2013 Fall Meeting, in room 101 in the Moscone Center. The lounge provided students an environment in which to take some time off, rest, chat with their friends, charge and use their laptops, work on their poster or presentation, and or even in some cases take a short nap! The lounge also had free coffee and snacks every morning and afternoon. The student lounge was a great success; it was well attended and used by students from all the sections. During the student representative meeting we talked about expanding the idea and I suggested having volunteers with AGU t-shirts and labels like “I received XYZ award, ask me a question” or “I just got a faculty job, ask me a question”, etc. We might also have some volunteer mentors in the lounge for one-on-one or group discussions. These and other suggestions were well received and some will be implemented during AGU 2014.
  • Student San Francisco City Tours: We started a series of San Francisco city bus tours for students before and during the AGU meeting. Students joined Paul Cooper, from AGU’s Career Center, on half-day tours of San Francisco. They asked resume tips on the way to Chinatown or how best to search for a job while traveling to Fisherman’s Wharf, while taking in the sights of San Francisco and meeting other students. The tours were extremely popular and we are planning on having them again next year!
  • Student Roommate Board: The most active board on the 2013 fall meeting site, the roommate board helped students safely and efficiently share accommodation costs. It’s also a great opportunity to become friends with other students and learn about their programs.
  • Dinner meetups: Tables set up in the main lobby of Moscone West center with signs for cuisines such as Italian, Mexican, and Thai formed meeting places so students and other AGU members could form groups for dinners. The idea was well-received and we had good feedback, especially from first time student attendees.
  • Student breakfast: The student breakfast event was better attended by the Planetary Science students this year than last year. A shorter program allowed for more networking. The student breakfast is a great opportunity for Planetary Science students from all over the world to meet one another and also meet the Planetary Science Session committee members in an informal setting. The timing is little early in the morning but the good food and great discussions make it all worth it!
  • Student Mixer: Always a hit, it was attended by just as many students as in previous years, despite the scheduling of the Ice Breaker during its normal time slot.
  • Student Travel Grant Program: 222 students received a student travel grant, up from 104 for fall meeting 2012.
  • Planetary Science Reception: As usual our reception was sold out! The location was little far for a walk from the Moscone Center but it was a nice gathering for all Planetary Sciences. We did have fewer international attendees at the reception, though we are not sure why. Bill McKinnon, the current chair of the Planetary Science Session Committee introduced the committee members and gave a short summary about the current activities and status of the community.
  • Student Representative meeting: We had a great discussion with Kara Smedley, the AGU Manager of Student Member Inititaives, about student activities within all the sections. I think we have had great improvements during the last two years, but we aren’t even close to the best of what we can be. By a huge margin Hydrology section’s student activities better attended and developed and I’m looking forward for Planetary Science student activities to reach the same level in near future! All the resources and ideas are there and what we need are volunteers!
  • The AGU student webpage: The page is getting a new look to highlight the student activities and opportunities throughout AGU and various sessions.
  • Berkner Student Trip: As an expansion of the Berkner Program, students from developing countries took in the sights of San Francisco while networking and bonding prior to the Meeting. These students became friends and formed a support group for each other as they navigated their first trips to the U.S. and AGU fall meeting. The AGU fall meeting 2013 awardee photos can be found here.

Sona Hosseini Student Representative 2011-2014

Sona Hosseini

Sona Hosseini

During her time as student representative, Sona was a PhD student at University of California Davis, Department of Engineering Applied Science. She has been working on an interferometry technique Tunable Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometer to achieve high resolution spectra (~100,000) from wide field of view targets (FOV~0.5 degree) from small aperture telescopes. Using her instrument (Khayyam, Lick Observatory) she will be studying cometary coma, and planetary atmospheres. Her responsibilities include instrument design and development (including optical design, environmental stability, control, and programming), data pipelining, and analysis.