A Geodynamicist and an Early Career Scientist

A Geodynamicist and an Early Career Scientist

This week Adina Pusok, postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, USA, discusses what it is like to be an Early Career Scientist within the EGU Geodynamics division.

The terms “Early Career Scientist” (ECS) or “Young Scientist” (YS) are now so widely used in the scientific community, that certain meetings, sessions, awards, and social events are entirely dedicated to promote this group of scientists. But what are ECS and YS? These terms were created to describe scientists in the early stages of their career. Because the term Young Scientist might have an age connotation and make some scientists feel excluded, the EGU has recently adopted the ECS term instead. The definition of ECS on the EGU page says “an Early Career Scientists (ECS) is an undergraduate or postgraduate (Masters/PhD) student or a scientist who has received his or her highest degree (BSc, MSc, or PhD) within the past seven years*. (*with additional year(s) of parental leave time per child, where appropriate)”.

Yet, it is still not clear why there is a need to create a subgroup and organize specific activities for this group, when the research community is considered open, where everyone can bring contributions in an equal manner? To answer this, I look back at the first meetings I attended as a PhD student. I remember I felt intimidated by the experience and scientific eloquence of the more established scientists (especially the “big names” in the field), only because I knew there was still a lot for me to learn and experience to gain. And I am sure I was not the only PhD student experiencing this. The truth is, ECS have different needs compared to established scientists. The list of challenges for ECS is long (see this special issue in Nature). Besides doing research, ECS need to promote their work, socialize more to expand their network, enter the very competitive job market, and not to mention present and defend their scientific achievements to an unknown audience. For many established scientists, these are stages past gone. Everyone knows them, everyone talks about their work.

As an ECS, I value the interactions with established scientists, but I also welcome events organized for ECS (i.e. career development or social events, such as grant writing and academic presentation courses). However, I feel the best outcome is achieved when both established and early career scientists support and participate in these events. Which is why I agreed to be the ECS representative for the EGU Geodynamics division (GD) – to bring together and improve visibility of ECS in the GD community. And for the occasional beer and karaoke special sessions (see last week’s blog post) with other ECS Geodynamicists.

What does EGU do to support ECS?

A large proportion of the Union’s members consists of scientists in the early stages of their career. For this reason, EGU wants to offer support to this group, by providing reduced conference fees, recognizing outstanding students, awarding travel grants, organizing short courses, arranging networking possibilities and more. Besides, the EGU encourages further support at the division level, such as outreach activities (e.g. blogs and social media), social events, mentoring programs or short courses at the General Assembly. All ECS need to do is pay attention to the opportunities provided.

Probably a lot more could be done, but small contributions can already make a huge difference. For example, the ability to attend a conference due to an awarded travel grant can be very important to meet other scientists and create exposure for your research, create future collaborations or even sign up for that future job.

What can ECS do for themselves?

Other than help create the environment they want to be in? It might sound idealistic or as too much work involved, but again, small steps can go a long way. Anything from organizing to participating, from being informed to inform others, from taking part in outreach to supporting outreach activities, from mentoring to being mentored, the ECS can contribute in various ways to their own and their community’s development.

In Geodynamics, there are many enthusiastic and fun ECS that get together at meetings and workshops, create friendships and collaborations across national and academic borders. I’ve met enough of them to believe that GD ECS can create a more coherent structure under the EGU umbrella. For example, within less than 1 year, the GD ECS have managed to launch the EGU GD Facebook page, organize social events at major conferences (AGU Fall Meeting 2016, EGU General Assembly 2017), and recently, launch the EGU Geodynamics Blog.

Adapted from and

More things can be done though. There is currently a strong need for scientists to become more actively involved in science public outreach worldwide, and this is one of the directions where GD ECS can contribute easily. Geodynamics is a field known for “beautiful pictures” that show the complexity and dynamics of natural processes. Thus, highlighting the diversity of Geodynamics studies (numerical simulations, laboratory experiments, or data compilations) to a wider audience can benefit the research community at large.

Because all these initiatives are run by members, there is always a need for motivated people with refreshing ideas. This is why, I encourage other ECS to bring forward new ideas that we can develop within the GD division (see how to get involved). Along with the rest of GD ECS volunteers, I look forward to working with you!

By Adina Pusok
As the ECS GD representative, I am the link between the EGU and the ECS GD community. I provide EGU with feedback from students and early career researchers, so that the union can take action to improve the ECS activities at the EGU General Assembly and maintain the support for early career scientists throughout the year. I am also involved in public and community outreach of the Geodynamics division.

Too early seen unknown, and known too late!

Too early seen unknown, and known too late!

Romeo and Juliet famously had some identification problems: they met, fell in love, and only afterwards realised that they were arch enemies, which *spoiler* resulted in their disastrous fate. Oops. Of course, this could happen to anybody. However, we do not want this to happen to you! We want you to know who we, the EGU Geodynamics Blog Team, are! So, in order to prevent any mishaps during future conferences and to make sure you know who you can contact in case of imminent writing inspiration for a guest blog post or questions regarding (ECS) Geodynamics activities of EGU, we proudly present our EGU Geodynamics Blog Team here.

Iris van Zelst
I am a PhD student at ETH Zürich in Switzerland. I am studying tsunamigenic earthquakes with a range of interdisciplinary modelling tools, such as geodynamic, dynamic rupture, and tsunami models. Some of my current research projects include splay fault propagation in subduction zones, and the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake. I’m the Editor-in-chief of the GD blog team, so my job is to make sure the blog runs smoothly and regularly. Using my love for interdisciplinary research and trivia, I hope to showcase a variety of geodynamic topics in a broad and entertaining light on this blog. I’m very excited for this blog! Are you? You can reach me at iris.vanzelst[at]

Luca Dal Zilio
I am a PhD student at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH–Zürich), as part of the
SNF project ‘AlpArray’. My research is primarily aimed at understanding the relationship
between crustal deformation and earthquakes in mountain belts, combining theoretical,
computational and observational approaches. Besides that, I also really enjoy being
involved in any type of outreach activities. Within the GD team, I am editor of this blog.
This means that I write blog posts, but also invite other people to write a guest blog. If you
have any ideas for guest blogs, feel free to contact me! You can reach me at luca.dalzilio[at]

Anne Glerum
I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at GFZ Potsdam, Germany. My research there focuses on 3D continental rift dynamics and the magma-tectonic feedback on rift evolution. I’ve been interested in geodynamic modeling ever since my Bachelor and Master studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and investigated instantaneous and time-dependent regional subduction during my PhD. In my spare time I love going out for a hike, bike ride or kayak trip, taking care of my succulent collection, or I curl up on the couch with a good book! You can reach me at acglerum[at]

Grace Shephard
I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics (CEED) at the University of Oslo, Norway. My research involves integrating multiple geological and geophysical datasets in order to link plate tectonics and mantle structure through time. I hunt for evidence for constraining the opening and closure of ocean basins on global and regional scales, most recently in the Arctic, North Atlantic, and Pacific domains. Having received my PhD from the University of Sydney, I’ve swapped sunny Aussie beaches for snow-laden northern adventures. I’m excited to be part of the GD ECS team as an Editor, and a member of the broader EGU community. You can reach me at g.e.shephard[at] or find a sporadic tweet at @ShepGracie.


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