Busalacchi elected AAAS Fellow

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – ESSIC Director and Council on the Environment Chair Antonio Busalacchi has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of 11 CMNS faculty and staff among the 359 newly elected fellows.

The fellowship is “an honor bestowed upon members by their peers,” where “fellows are recognized for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications,” according to the AAAS website.

Busalacchi was elected by his peers for distinguished contributions to Earth sciences, particularly in the understanding of tropical ocean processes, and the development of interdisciplinary collaborations across Earth Sciences.

Busalacchi’s interdisciplinary interests began with his thesis work on El Niño, a process that couples the ocean and the atmosphere.

“So already you’re taking the meteorology and oceanography disciplines and bringing them together,” he said.

He later went to NASA, eventually becoming Chief of the Lab for Hydrospheric Processes,  bringing together further earth system disciplines.  The nomination, Busalacchi said, comes from a lifetime of work in developing collaborations in Earth sciences.

“That’s what I’ve done for my career and that’s what I do here; bringing together different parts of the earth system to look at the variability and change that may not exist in one part of the system by itself,” he said.

Fellowship candidates are nominated either by officers of their specific section of the AAAS or any three current fellows who are AAAS members.

Busalacchi, who used to be an officer in the AAAS “Section W,” which includes atmosphere and oceanography, says the nominations are done in secret.

The fellowship itself is more of a recognition than a responsibility, however.

“It’s just you being recognized by your peers for your accomplishments, so it’s honorific,” Busalacchi said.

However, he is now responsible for nominating other people for future fellowships.

“One of the responsibilities of a fellow is to pass that along to the next generation,” Busalacchi said. “And to try to identify and mentor emerging talent.”