Posted on 15 March 2011.
This year was quite eventful for the Department of Earth Sciences. We were shocked by the untimely death of James Scott. James’ PhD student Derek Smith is now working with Marilyn Fogel at the Carnegie Institution in Washington DC. We graduated six students in the last year—one PhD and five MS’s—and welcomed nine new graduate students. The graduated students are now working in the industry or studying for higher degrees at other universities.
Brian Dade recently replaced Carl Renshaw as chair of the department. Carl is the Principal Investigator on a $2.5 million NSF grant that will fund an educational outreach program, in which Dartmouth graduate students will educate local middle school students in science, technology, engineering and math.
Bob Hawley’s glaciology group has grown considerably this year. In addition to a new Post Doc (Eric Lutz), there are two new graduate students: Thomas Overly (PhD, IGERT Fellow) and Blaine Morriss (MS). Thus far, Bob’s group has garnered over $1 million in external support. Last summer, Bob, Gifford Wong (PhD, IGERT Fellow), and Zoe Courville (UNH Post Doc) traveled to Summit Camp, Greenland, to procure a 100m ice core as well as conduct several snowpit studies. This summer, the glaciology group will be working on six concurrent, externally-funded projects, which will take six Dartmouth grad students and faculty to Greenland this summer to undertake three independent field campaigns. Gifford, who recently returned from an austral summer abroad, also participated in drilling the longest American ice core (3331 meters!) while working on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide Ice Core Project.
Meredith Kelly’s research group is comprised of four graduate students who use exposure age dating and lake sediment records to understand past climate changes. Meredith was recently awarded an NSF Paleo Perspectives on Climate Change grant to study the mechanisms of climate change in the southern tropical and mid-latitude Andes during the Holocene. Justin Stroup (PhD) and Sam Beal (PhD) organized and led a research expedition to map glacial geology, collect boulder samples, and obtain lake sediment cores near Quelccaya Ice Cap, Peru. Laura Levy (PhD, IGERT fellow) conducted a successful field season to East Greenland in September, and she has since been analyzing boulder samples and lake sediment cores. Tom Baker (MS) will travel to Thunder Bay, Ontario this spring to collect boulder samples that he will use to study the eastward drainage of glacial Lake Agassiz.
Xiahong Feng’s stable isotope group admitted two PhD students, Alex Lauder and Ben Kopec, under the IGERT program. The group is using stable isotopes of precipitation to study the impact of sea-ice change on both ocean-surface evaporation and land precipitation in the Arctic under the newly-launched Isotopic Investigation of Sea Ice and Precipitation in the Arctic Climate System (iisPACS) project, jointly led by Professors Feng and Posmentier, of Dartmouth College, and Jeff Burkhart, of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research. Alex and Ben will travel to Greenland this summer through the NSF-sponsored IGERT fellowship program. They will measure the isotopic composition of vapor over diverse bodies of water and sample lake water for later isotopic analysis. Thirty degrees further west, Kelly Everhart is planning to finish her Masters project, which characterizes the extent to which sea ice modifies the isotopic composition of precipitation landing on the North Slope of Alaska, early this summer.
Mukul Sharma’s radiogenic isotope lab group admitted two new PhD students, Hannah Hallock and Kelly Landau. Two old hands in the lab, Tim Blazina, MS, and Yingzhe Wu, MS, will be presenting their work in the AGU fall meeting. Tim has done extensive field work on New Zealand’s North Island where he is studying chemical weathering. Yingzhe has been studying the origin of the magnetic spherules at the Younger Dryas boundary, a period of intense climate change that coincided with the disappearance of the Clovis people and mega-fauna of North America.
The fluvial geomorphology group, under the auspices of Carl Renshaw, Brian Dade and Frank Magilligan, admitted one new student, Eirik Buraas. He will investigate the effect of dams on New England rivers. John Gartner, a third-year PhD student, was recently awarded two grants. The NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant will help support his research on dam removal and sediment transport, and a National Center for Airborne Laser Altimetry Seed Grant allows repeat LiDAR data at one dam removal. This spring, Nathan Hamm will defend his dissertation on fine sediment dynamics in stream beds.
In other news, Jennifer Bailard just finished another successful field season in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Rachel Neurath is nearing completion of her MS thesis on soil carbon cycling in harvested and old growth forests, and Jie Yang is gearing up for his PhD on heavy metal contamination.
By John Gartner, Sam Beal, Kelly Everhart, Gifford Wong, and Mukul Sharma.
Photo: Dartmouth graduate students Gifford Wong (PhD, Earth Sciences), Lauren Culler (PhD, EEB) and Simone Whitecloud (PhD, EEB) during their IGERT trip to Greenland.