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Alumni Newsletter: July '08 to July '09



Fifth year grad student David Abt and his wife Dawn were pleased to announce the birth of their daughter, Cadence Clippinger Abt, on Monday September 22, 2008. She weighed 7 lbs 1 oz.

Postdoc Rachel Klima (PhD '08) and her husband, Research Assistant Allan Klima, were proud to welcome Alexander Klima into the world on Tuesday, August 26, 2008. He weighed 8 lbs 10 oz.


Professor Alberto Saal was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in July 2009.


David Abt, a 5th year graduate student, was lead author for the article “Resolving Three-Dimensional Anisotropic Structure with Shear-wave Splitting Tomography” published in the June 2008 Geophysical Journal International. Abt et al. presented the development and validation of a new technique for imaging anisotropy in the upper mantle using local events—shear wave splitting tomography (SWST). Geophys. J. Int. 173, 859-886, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2008.03757.x.

Rising fifth year graduate student Linda Chernak was lead author on an April 2009 article published in the Journal of Geophysical Research that described dislocation creep experiments conducted on quartzite indicating that the presence of CO2 can cause strengthening or weakening depending on the oxygen fugacity (f O 2 ) of the deformation environment. “Effect of aqueous and carbonic fluids on the dislocation creep strength of quartz”, J. Geophys. Res., 114, B04201, doi:10.1029/2008JB005884.

Bethany Ehlmann, a rising fourth year graduate student, and lead author of a December 19, 2008 edition Science article, found the elusive minerals that make up carbonate on Mars, bolstering the chances that life may have existed on the red planet and evidence of primitive forms may remain.

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Joseph Levy, PhD 2009 was lead author on an article titled “Thermal contraction crack polygons on Mars: classification, distribution, and climate implications from HiRISE observations”, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, doi:10.1029/2008JE003273. He was also lead author for “Geologically recent gully-polygon relationships on Mars: Insights from the Antarctic Dry Valleys on the roles of permafrost, microclimates, and water sources for surface flow” in Icarus, 199, doi: 10.1016/j.icarus.2008.1012.1043.

Gareth Morgan, PhD 2009 was lead author on an article titled “Lineated valley fill (LVF) and lobate debris aprons (LDA) in the Deuteronilus Mensae northern dichotomy boundary region, Mars: Constraints on the extend, age and episodicity of Amazonian glacial events” in Icarus, 10.1016/j.icarus.2009.02.017, and “Sinton crater, Mars: Evidence for impact into a plateau icefield and melting to produce valley networks at the Hesperian-amazonian boundary”, also in Icarus, 10.1016/j.icarus.2009.02.025.

Rising fourth year Graduate student Samuel Schon was lead author in the March issue of Geology; a new study suggests melt water from nearby snow and ice deposits may have carved a Martian gully system.

Fifth Year Masters student, Carla Thacker (ScB '07) was lead author for the article “The stability and major element partitioning of ilmenite and armalcolite during lunar cumulate mantle overturn” which appeared in Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta  73, 820-836 (doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2008.10.038).

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Jessica E. Tierney (AB '05), a rising fourth year graduate student, was first author on a Science article “Northern Hemisphere controls on tropical Southeast African climate during the past 60,000 years" ; Science vol. 322 pp 252-255 (2008)

Ailish Kress ’08 had her paper “Ring-mold craters in lineated valley fill and lobate debris aprons on Mars: Evidence for subsurface glacial ice” make the cover of the December 16, 2008 Geophysical Research Letters.

A Passion for Mars

Andy Chaikin, AB ’78, authored the book “A Passion for Mars: Intrepid Explorers of the Red Planet”. In it, he chronicles the quest for Mars by a passionate band of Earthbound explorers in the irresistible pull of the Red Planet. They include celebrated figures: astronomer Carl Sagan, who championed the idea of life on Mars; rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, who drew up plans for human Mars expeditions; and science-fiction author Ray Bradbury, standard-bearer for Mars’s crucial place in human destiny. Readers also meet the rogue grad students known as the “Mars Underground,” keepers of the flame when Mars falls off NASA’s radar; biologist Jerry Soffen, looking for signs of life in a Martian meteorite; geologist Mike Malin, who defies skeptics to reveal a Mars no one imagines; and many others, including Chaikin himself, who covered Mars exploration as a science journalist. Watch youtube interview...

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Communicating Climate Change

An NSF panel formed in January to discuss climate change, science and journalism had two Brown graduates on it: Andy Revkin ’76 (of the New York Times), and Geological Science’s Maureen Raymo ScB ’82 of Boston University. John Carey, senior correspondent for Business Week, along with climate scientist Michael Mann of The Pennsylvania State University, also participated on the panel. They were be joined by Bud Ward, editor of The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media, and Tony Socci of the American Meteorological Society. (Photo of Maureen Raymo courtesy of Kalman Zabarsky.)

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Award Winner Speaks at Brown

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences selected Stanley Hart of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as the 13th recipient of the Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship. Stan Hart (right) was recognized for development of the new field of “chemical geodynamics” to map and constrain the dynamical evolution of the Earth. As part of this prize, Stan had the opportunity to select one institution from across the U.S. to give four master lectures and he selected the Department of Geological Sciences at Brown University.

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The Chosen One

In October 2008, the Department of Geological Sciences was chosen to present at an event for the Corporation weekend. After the Corporation heard from Admissions and Financial Aid, and learned about major capital projects, the department was featured as an academic program. Professors Karen Fischer, Jim Head, and Jack Mustard did an excellent job representing Geology on the faculty side, and Ben Friedman, ‘09 and Bethany Ehlmann, 4th year grad student, did a superb job talking about their experiences as undergrads and grads in our department.

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First Annual Ping Pong Tournament

In order to make up some of the costs for the Geo Spring Break Trip, enterprising Geo concentrators organized a Ping Pong Tournament in Andrews Dining Hall this May. With an entry fee of $5, everyone was guaranteed 3 games up to 11 points. A round robin bracket was followed by a single elimination. In addition, one table was reserved for individual challenges against professors Meredith Hastings, Greg Hirth, Yongsong Huang, Steve Parman, Alberto Saal and Jan Tullis. Who was this year’s champ? Professor Yongsong Huang made it to the final round against Cole Pruitt '10 and won the overall event. (Photo: Andy Nager (AB '09 and Jena Johnson (ScB '09) act as ping pong tournament scorekeepers.) More photos...

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Vernadsky-Brown Microsymposium

This year’s microsymposium focused on volcanism on the Moon and Mercury. There were two main questions that presenters were attempting to answer: how much of Mercury’s crust is secondary, and for how long and how recently was the Moon volcanically active? To even understand what the first question is talking about, the group had to step back a bit to talk about primary, secondary, and tertiary crusts. For more complete details, check out the blog maintained by 3rd year graduate student Sam Schon and Ailish Kress, ‘08 during the meeting.

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Save the Date!

The 50th Vernadsky-Brown Microsymposium on Comparative Planetology will be held at the Vernadsky Institute in Moscow, Russia, on October 12-14, 2009.

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