Department of Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences
Brown University Graduate School

Research Matters with Peter Van Katwyk

Research Matters, hosted by the Graduate School, is an annual live event featuring short talks by Brown graduate students on why their research matters. DEEPS graduate student Peter Van Katwyk presented on his research, "Improving Sea Level Projections with AI."
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Brown University Graduate School

Research Matters with Alexia Rojas

Research Matters, hosted by the Graduate School, is an annual live event featuring short talks by Brown graduate students on why their research matters. DEEPS graduate student Alexia Rojas presented on her research, "Lead Absorption in Zeolites and Community Science."
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For their AP environmental science and biology field trip, Barrington High School students visited the Blackstone River to learn about Rhode Island's history of pollution. The trip was supported by the RI NASA Space Grant. “We want to get students outside the classroom beyond the textbooks and internet articles they read about,” said Ralph Milliken, Program Director and DEEPS Associate Professor. “So they can understand the interplay on human society and the natural environment.”
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Professor Jim Head commented on China's Chang'e-6 Moon-lander samples, saying, "Obtaining dates and compositional information from the many hundreds of fragments sampled by the Chang’e-6 drill and scoop is like a having treasure chest full of critical parts of lunar history, and will very likely revolutionize our view of the entire Moon."
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News from DEEPS

Student Research Stories: Celia Kong-Johnson

Celia Kong-Johnson ’25 is a rising senior studying Geochemistry and Applied Mathematics who works as a research assistant in Assistant Professor Dan Ibarra’s lab, studying past hydroclimate variability in the Philippines. In our fourth Student Research Story, Celia spoke of the friendliness of DEEPS faculty and the department’s welcoming, tight-knit community.
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In a new publication in AGU Advances, Postdoctoral Fellow Lily Dove and her colleagues present a framework for graduate programs to evaluate and modify their qualifying examinations. "Most importantly", explained Dove, "the proposed process is iterative and data-driven, meaning that programs can continually refine and make changes to qualifying examinations based on student outcomes and experiences."
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News from DEEPS

Student Research Stories: Ayushman Choudhury

Ayushman Choudhury ’25 is a rising senior studying Applied Mathematics-Computer Science and Music and a research assistant in the Mara Freilich Lab, where he investigates ocean flux dynamics in the Southern Ocean. In our third Student Research Story, Ayushman emphasizes his passion for using computer science and mathematical modeling to improve our understanding of climate change and help fight the climate crisis.
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News from DEEPS

Student Research Stories: Allison Cavallo

Our second Student Research Story features Allison Cavallo ’25, a Geophysics concentrator at Brown. She started her research journey by joining the Baylor Fox-Kemper lab, and went on to join the Anti-Podal Oceanography Group where she coordinates science communications for the Scale-Aware Sea Ice Project based in France. This summer she will be pursuing her dream job as an intern at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
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In our first Research Assistant Spotlight, Jonah Bernstein-Schalet ’24, graduating this Spring with an ScB in Geology-Biology, stresses the importance of fieldwork in kindling his passion for wildfire research. As an assistant in Assistant Professor Dan Ibarra’s lab, Jonah investigates chemical weathering and soil formation in the Oregon Cascades with the goal of understanding more about wildfires in the area.
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News from DEEPS

2024 Commencement Ceremony

The Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences joins Brown University in celebrating the achievements of the graduating class of 2024. Here we will be sharing an expanded version of our Commencement Program, listing the accomplishments of our new graduates, photos of the event, and other resources.
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Laura Lark is set to graduate with a doctoral degree in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, marking a significant milestone in an already notable career. She was selected for the Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Award in the physical sciences. Her dissertation is titled, Influence of Compositional Structure on Planetary Geological Evolution.   
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Weeks after a massive fire at a metal recycling business on Allens Avenue in Providence sparked environmental concerns, the NBC 10 I-Team discovered dozens of complaints made against businesses on that same street. Professor Meredith Hastings spoke with investigators about Breathe Providence and her ongoing research on local air quality. “Our project is really dedicated to try and understand patterns of air pollution across the city,” Hastings said.
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In recognition of his commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive academic environment, Daniel E. Ibarra, Manning Assistant Professor of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences and Environment and Society, has been selected for the Graduate School Faculty Award for Advising and Mentoring in the physical sciences.
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Lunar Trailblazer

Trailblazer of the Week: Kierra Wilk

Trailblazer of the Week is an ongoing series showcasing the diversity of experience and expertise that supports the collective determination of the Lunar Trailblazer mission. The series recently highlighted Kierra Wilk, DEEPS PhD student working with Trailblazer Co-Investigator Carle Pieters to investigate the spectral signature of water on the Moon.
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University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability

SEAS Dean Jonathan Overpeck elected to National Academy of Sciences

DEEPS alumn Jonathan (Peck) Overpeck was recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Overpeck was one of Tom Webb's former PhD students and currently serves as the Dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan.
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National Academy of Sciences

Greg Hirth elected to the National Academy of Sciences

DEEPS Chair and Professor Greg Hirth was recently elected to The National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
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News from DEEPS

Spring Break Field Trip 2024

This year DEEPS undergraduate students visited the Grand Canyon in Arizona for their annual Spring Break Field Trip (SBFT). Twenty-six students, Assistant Professor Emily Cooperdock, and Lab Manager Travis Parsons explored the spectacular geological features and processes, and bonded over snowy mishaps and sandwiches. Here is what they had to say about their adventures:
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American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Greg Hirth elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

DEEPS Chair and Professor Greg Hirth has been elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts & Sciences. The Academy is an honorary society that recognizes and celebrates the excellence of its members, as well as an independent research center convening leaders from across disciplines, professions, and perspectives to address significant challenges.
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AGU23 Outstanding Student Presentation Awards

Two DEEPS Graduate Students Receive AGU's 2023 Outstanding Student Presentation Awards

Anahi Carrera won within the Education section for her AGU presentation titled, "Underrepresentation of first-generation college students in the geosciences - A diverse group to support in the post-Affirmative Action era." Alexia Rojas won within Tectonophysics for her AGU presentation titled, "Long Term San Andreas Fault Offset Re-Examined Through a Multichronometer Study of a Key Piercing Point." We are very proud of Anahi and Alexia for their achievements and recognition from the community!
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The University’s Task Force on the Status of Women Faculty’s April 2023 report found that women faculty feel their service to the Brown community is “undocumented and, as a consequence, underappreciated.” Professor Jan Tullis commented on the role of women mentors, especially for those in STEM, saying that “there’s been a tendency over time … for women students to feel more comfortable coming to me as an advisor … especially about personal things, but also (about) academic things.”
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The Publics Radio

East Coast earthquake felt in Rhode Island

Rhode Island was among several East Coast states that felt a small earthquake on Friday morning, April 5th. Brown University Professor of Geological Sciences Karen Fischer says even though the quake was small, it was felt in multiple states because of the geologic makeup of the East Coast.
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NASA Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Early Career Scientist Spotlight: Dr. Angel Mojarro

Angel Mojarro, who graduated from Brown in 2011 with B.Sc. Geological Sciences, discusses his research on lipids at NASA Goddard and the chance to work on the samples from OSIRIS-REx in a recent NASA Early Career Scientist Spotlight.
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Dr. Sierra (Wiegman) Brown holds a B.S. (2016) in Geophysics and Geochemistry from SUNY Fredonia, and M.S. (2018) and Ph.D. (2022) degrees in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences from Brown University. Brown is also an enrolled member of the Shinnecock Nation, and draws on the practice of “Two-Eyed Seeing” to provide unique insights that integrate indigenous and western approaches to knowledge.
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DEEPS Professor John Mustard recently shared his opinion with Nature about NASA's new considerations for the Perseverance rover's mission, saying the rocks currently on board are “great, but they’re not sufficient to be the transformative samples that we want them to be.”
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AGU Student Programs

AGU 2023 Outstanding Student Presentation Award

The AGU's 2023 Outstanding Student Presentation Award winners were recently announced, including two DEEPS graduate students. Anahi Carrera won within the Education section for her AGU presentation titled, "Underrepresentation of first-generation college students in the geosciences - A diverse group to support in the post-Affirmative Action era." Alexia Rojas Alexia won within Tectonophysics for her AGU presentation titled, "Long Term San Andreas Fault Offset Re-Examined Through a Multichronometer Study of a Key Piercing Point." View the 2023 Winner Gallery to see their posters.
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Recent Postdoctoral Research Fellow Kai-Xun Chen has published a new paper in Geophysical Research Letters, titled “Seismic evidence for a mid-lithospheric discontinuity in 155 million-year-old Pacific lithosphere. Consistent with now-frozen melt that was trapped in the young lithosphere close to the ridge.” The publication lays out evidence for a low velocity layer inside old oceanic lithosphere. Dr. Chen completed this research while he was a postdoctoral researcher in DEEPS, working with Prof. Don Forsyth and Prof. Karen Fischer.
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DEEPS PhD candidate César Bucheli recently published a new paper in Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, titled “What can we learn from geothermobarometry at the dacitic Doña Juana Volcanic Complex (Colombia)? Implications for understanding Pleistocene crystal mushes and pre-eruptive storage conditions in the Northern Andes.” Bucheli and co-authors reconstructed the geochemical behavior of Pleistocene melts feeding eruptions of the Doña Juana Volcanic Complex (SW Colombia, Northern Andes) and found evidence to suggest the existence of one of the first examples of long-lived trans-crustal magma systems in the country.
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News from DEEPS

Celebrating Black History Month

As the 2024 Black History Month comes to a close, DEEPS is celebrating our Black community members and honoring the Black scientists who have made invaluable contributions to our society. DEEPS Communications Assistant Angela Snider highlights three Black women (from the past, the present, and up-and-coming) who have made important contributions to the geosciences.
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Space Science Reviews

Planned Geological Investigations of the Europa Clipper Mission

Associate Professor Ingrid Daubar and colleagues recently published a new paper in Space Science Reviews titled “Planned Geological Investigations of the Europa Clipper Mission.” The publication outlines the geological investigations planned for the Europa Clipper mission, which aims to assess Europa’s potential habitability.
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PhD candidate Jared M. Kodero recently published a new article in Communications Earth & Environment, titled “Future transition from forests to shrublands and grasslands in the western United States is expected to reduce carbon storage.” The article examines the anticipated impact of climate change on vegetation in the western United States, particularly the shifts in dominant Plant Functional Types and carbon storage.
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DEEPS Professor Jim Head spoke with Space.com about the MEPAG Tiger Team report and their insights into NASA's moon-to-Mars strategy. "NASA is currently updating the objectives for the Moon-to-Mars initiative with the strategy of 'architect from the right/execute from the left,'" Head said.
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