Graduate Student of the Month

Jessica Moerman - October, 2013

“My research focuses on discovering how tropical rainfall and atmospheric circulation patterns varied over the past two millennia. Since data from weather stations is only available for the last several decades, I use geologic archives like stalagmites to obtain information about Earth’s climate history. Stalagmites contain a record of past rainfall variability in the oxygen isotopic chemistry of their calcite layers. To better understand how oxygen isotopes reflect climate variability, I also conduct comparison studies between instrumental precipitation data and the oxygen isotopic chemistry of modern rainfall and cave dripwater. This research has taken me across the world to conduct fieldwork in places like Borneo and Papua New Guinea.”

Jessica graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with B.S. degrees in Chemistry and Geology. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Cobb’s paleoclimate lab. She has received several prestigious awards, including the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Georgia Institute of Technology President’s Fellowship, and the P.E.O. Scholar Award.

Photo credit Jerry Wallace

Chastity Aiken - September, 2013

Chastity Aiken is currently pursuing a PhD in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech.  Her research with advisor Zhigang Peng focuses on studying deep tectonic tremor, a subtle fault movement in the lower crust, and its interactions with damaging earthquakes.  Her work includes identifying tremor sources that are triggered by seismic waves of a large, distant earthquake along strike-slip faults where tremor has not been previously observed. In 2012, she installed seismometers in Costa Rica that recorded a magnitude 7.6 earthquake.  Her research has covered much of the Western Hemisphere and has been published in international journals such as Nature Geoscience and Geophysical Research Letters. She has won a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, as well as an ARCS Foundation Scholarship.  In her spare time, she volunteers for Trees Atlanta, tutors high school students in physics and math, and engages in rock climbing.