Arizona State University professors Osvaldo Sala, a drylands researcher and Regents Professor in the School of Life Sciences, and Meenakshi Wadhwa, a cosmochemistry expert and the new director of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, have been elected to the 2019 class of the American Geophysical Union Fellows. The election is an honor just 0.1% of AGU members in any given year enjoy. To be elected is a recognition of “attaining scientific eminence through achievements in research, as demonstrated by a breakthrough or discovery, innovation in science or the development of methods and instruments, or sustained impact,” according to the AGU.
Sala’s work is heavily centered on drylands, which cover 40% of the earth’s surface. He has spent more than three decades studying the driest places on earth including the Loess Plateau in China, the annual grasslands of California and the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico. Sala combines field experimentation and mathematical models in an attempt to extract valuable information that can be used to promote the sustainability of these drylands. His publications are one of the most cited in the fields of ecology, sustainability and biology. In addition to his other roles, Sala also serves as the Julie A. Wrigley Chair, Regents and Foundation Professor and founding director of the Global Drylands Center at ASU.
Meenakshi Wadhwa focuses her research on understanding the time scales and processes involved in the formation and evolution of the Solar System and planets through an analysis of objects from space. She has also been on expeditions to Antarctica to search for meteorites. At the moment, Wadhwa is involved in two missions currently in flight. She is a collaborating scientist on the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument on the Mars Curiosity Rover and a science team member on the Japanese Hayabusa2 sample return mission to asteroid Ryugu. She also has an asteroid (Asteroid 8356) named in recognition of her contributions to planetary science.
Both ASU professors will be honored on Wednesday, December 11 at the Honors Tribute in San Francisco, along with the 60 new AGU Fellows.