2021 Doris M. Curtis Outstanding Woman in Science Award

Presented to Sarah M. Aarons

Sarah M. Aarons

Sarah M. Aarons
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD


Citation by Kathleen Johnson, University of California, Irvine

I am thrilled to recognize Dr. Sarah Aarons as the recipient of the 2021 Doris M. Curtis Outstanding Woman in Science Award. Sarah’s PhD research at the University of Michigan was at the interface of isotope geochemistry, glaciology, Earth surface processes, and paleoclimatology and involved mastery of a wide array of challenging laboratory techniques in addition to extensive field work. Through her seven-first authored papers from her PhD, she made substantial contributions to improve geochemical fingerprints of dust source regions, quantify dust fluxes, reconstruct past changes in aridity and windiness, and assess the importance of dust in biogeochemical cycles. Sarah is a brilliant and creative scholar, with a demonstrated ability to apply innovative geochemical approaches to address long-standing questions in geoscience. She is also an outstanding teacher and mentor, a role model for other Indigenous scientists, and a fierce advocate for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the geosciences. Congratulations, Sarah, on this well-deserved honor!


Response by Sarah M. Aarons

I am very honored and humbled to accept the 2021 Doris M. Curtis Award from GSA. The recipients of this award since its inception are all exceptional geoscientists and I am very honored to be included in their company. I would like to thank Kathleen Johnson who was the first Indigenous geoscientist I met, who was a hugely influential role model and inspired my work in broadening participation within our field. I would like to thank my PhD advisor Sarah Aciego, whose mentorship and guidance has pushed me to become a stronger scientist, communicator, and advocate for equality. My graduate work would not have been possible without Carli Arendt and Molly Blakowski, where we shared many formative field and lab experiences.

I am also very grateful for my mentors and colleagues including Aradhna Tripati, Nicolas Dauphas, John Higgins, Ed Brook, Eric Saltzman, Andy Heard, Anela Choy, Amina Schartup, Julia Diaz, and members of the Aciego, Johnson, Saltzman, and Dauphas research groups who have all provided support, guidance, and mentorship to me in various ways. Anne Egger’s teaching drew me into this field and my first field experience with Elizabeth Miller inspired my career in it. I would like to thank my sisters, Miriam and Elizabeth, my parents, Martha Anagick Aarons who inspired my love of nature and Charles Aarons who encouraged me to take my first geology class and still reads all of my papers. I would like to acknowledge my best friend, partner, and unofficial field and lab technician, Nick Snycerski, for his assurance and encouragement. Thank you to GSA for this honor and recognition.