Sheri Klug Boonstra receives national award for excellence in earth and space science education


ASU Research Professional Sheri Klug Boonstra has been selected for the American Geophysical Union’s 2020 Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education award. Photo by Alanna Wiktorowicz

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Announced this week by the American Geophysical Union, Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration Research Professional Sheri Klug Boonstra has been selected for the 2020 Excellence in Earth and Space Science Education award.

“It is wonderful to see Sheri’s innovative work in science education be recognized by the largest international organization of earth and space scientists,” said Meenakshi Wadhwa, director of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Klug Boonstra is the principal investigator of the NASA L’SPACE Academy, a student collaboration program for the NASA Lucy asteroid mission. She is also the director of strategic partnerships and co-instructor for ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative Space Works Project. Both of these programs help thousands of science and engineering students gain and apply relevant workforce skills and practices that lead to proficiencies that are valued by NASA and the space-based aerospace industry.

“Sheri Klug Boonstra truly understands the needs of both students and teachers, and has dedicated her career to developing materials and programs that both enrich the student’s experience and greatly expand the ability of teachers to communicate complex concepts with ease and enthusiasm,” said AGU Fellow and nominator Philip Christensen, who is a Regents Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Klug Boonstra has more than 20 years of experience in creating and implementing national NASA STEM education pipeline programs that stretch vertically from pre-college to workforce. She has been the principal investigator for NASA’s largest undergraduate internship program (USRP); director of the Mars Education Program, which produces and implements NASA’s award-winning Mars Student Imaging Project; and she has worked on multiple NASA missions including Mars Odyssey, Mars Exploration Rovers, and the Lucy Asteroid Mission.  

Klug Boonstra has served on the AAAS Science in the Classroom Advisory Council, spent three years as the education lead of the planetary section for the American Geophysical Union, and was chosen to serve on the NASA Solar System Exploration Subcommittee at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., from 2002–2005. As a principal investigator and co-investigator, she has been instrumental in raising more than $56 million in grant money for STEM education programs.

Of the 2020 award recipients, AGU President Robin Bell stated in a press release, “These individuals embody our shared vision of a thriving, sustainable and equitable future for all powered by discovery, innovation and action. These honorees have built their work with integrity, respect, diversity and collaboration together with deep engagement in education and outreach.”

AGU will formally recognize this year’s recipients at 3 p.m. PT, Dec. 9, via an online celebration during their fall meeting.

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