Susanne Buiter, Scientific Executive Director of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, has been awarded this year’s Union Service Award by the European Geosciences Union. With this award, the EGU recognizes exceptional commitment to the Union. Susanne Buiter "has had a significant impact on the Union, particularly through her dedicated service as Chair of the Programme Committee," the EGU statement declares. She held this office from 2017 to 2020.
The EGU’s General Assembly, traditionally held in Vienna each spring, had reached the limits of its capacity when Susanne Buiter took office as Chair of the Programme Committee. There had been a huge increase in the number of abstracts submitted and in participants, and the EGU was becoming increasingly concerned about the carbon footprint and also about the inclusiveness and accessibility of the General Assembly. Buiter developed multiple strategies to render the rapid growth of the General Assembly sustainable and set out on ambitious projects to make this congress greener, both in terms of participant travel but also in terms of waste reduction on site. Susanne Buiter also developed policies to make the General Assembly more inclusive and accessible, including the adoption of a Code of Conduct specific to the General Assembly and numerous modifications and guidelines aimed at increasing inclusion and accessibility to a wide audience. Another major innovation Buiter initiated was the Mentoring Programme, which has become an excellent tool for inclusion of first-time attendees at the General Assembly.
The tribute goes on to state “In her final year as Chair of the Programme Committee, Buiter was confronted with what was probably the greatest crisis in the history of the General Assembly: the need to cancel the in-person meeting just six weeks before it was about to start due to the COVID-19 related disruptions. Within six weeks, the largest virtual geoscience meeting ever (at that time) was conceptualized, developed, programmed and run successfully. The response from the community was overwhelming and EGU stood out as having given hope and a real sense of community in an immensely difficult time for so many. None of this would have been possible without Buiter’s composure, her determination, her endless energy and her enormous commitment to EGU.”
The EGU also paid special tribute to Susanne Buiter's commitment to open science. Buiter had promoted the general accessibility of conference papers and helped to develop a portal for preprints, the "EGUsphere".