Department of Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences
The Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences is proud to welcome Professor Meredith Hastings, the George Ide Chase Professor of Physical Sciences, as the new Department Chair. Hastings has been a member of the Brown faculty since 2008 and steps into this new role as the first woman to chair the department.
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Rhode Island Superior Court Associate Justice Brian Stern has issued a temporary restraining order after a fire at Rhode Island Recycled Metals LLC. The fire released smoke and potentially harmful chemicals detected throughout the city and into Pawtucket by Breathe Providence sensors, according to expert testimony from Meredith Hastings, DEEPS Chair and project lead for Breathe Providence.
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New research shows that, rather than an opening of the passage, the safe shipping season declined along several “choke points” through the Canadian Arctic, especially on the northern route. The finding matches expectations that ice will survive longest in the Canadian Arctic, noted DEEPS Professor Amanda Lynch, who was not involved with the study.
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Brown Initiative for Sustainable Energy

Initiative for Sustainable Energy Seed Research Awards (2024-25) Announcement

Brown's Initiative for Sustainable Energy recently announced Seed Research Awards for 2024-2025, including Assistant Professor Dan Ibarra for his project, “Investigating Mineralogical, Geochemical, & Thermodynamic Mechanisms Governing Lithium Enrichment in Lake Clay Deposits.”
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News from DEEPS

Student Research Stories: Gabriel Traietti

Gabriel Traietti ‘25, concentrating in Geochemistry, investigates the terrestrial paleoclimate of the Congo River Basin in Senior Associate Dean James Russell’s lab. He emphasizes how DEEPS gave him the tools to explore his passion for reconstructing ancient climate to help anticipate the effects of climate change on a local level.
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The European Space Agency

LUMIO – New CubeSat Illuminating Lunar Impacts

LUMIO is a newly approved CubeSat mission to observe meteoroid impacts on the lunar farside. This week, the ESA approved the next stage of the Lunar Meteoroid Impacts Observer (LUMIO) CubeSat mission, meaning it could be ready for launch as early as 2027. In 2023, Postdoctoral Research Associate Aleksandra Sokołowska was selected to be a member of the LUMIO Science Team. She shared her excitement for the project, saying "Being a part of this mission in its early stages has been incredibly fun and rewarding because members of our Science Team come from many different countries, work collaboratively, and the areas of expertise are very diverse. This final mission approval means that the journey continues."
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A recent NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts award will provide $2 million over two years to continue technology development of the Mycotecture Off Planet project in preparation for a potential future demonstration mission. With support from the 2018 Stanford-Brown-RISD iGEM team, the project is developing technologies that could “grow” habitats on the Moon and beyond using fungi.
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Climate Change AI has announced the grantees for the 2023 Innovation Grants program, including "EMPIRIC_AI: AI-enabled ensemble projections of cyclone risk for health infrastructure in Pacific Island Countries and Territories" lead by Visiting Assistant Professor (Research) Chris Horvat. The EMPIRIC_AI project aims to develop higher resolution climate models and targeted cyclone risk projections to support health resilience for frontline communities.
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China’s Chang’e-6 lunar module returned to Earth on Tuesday, June 25th, with the first ever samples retrieved from the far side of the moon. Professor James Head spoke with CNN about the significance of these samples and their importance for the international research community, saying "It’s a gold mine… a treasure chest.”
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Brown University leaders Ashish K. Jha and Kim Cobb discuss the intersection of climate change and people’s health, the challenges of our information ecosystem, and how the University’s collaborative efforts are fostering innovative solutions and preparing future leaders.
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Brown Alumni Magazine

Fault Tolerance

After decades of research, a reliable earthquake prediction system remains elusive as ever. Michael Blanpied ’85 ScM, ’89 PhD isn’t worried.
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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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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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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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