The School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Presents Dr. Wing Yin "Winnie" Chu, Stanford University

The last decade has seen significant advancements in our understanding of ice sheet hydrology and in particular, the role of subsurface drainage hidden within and beneath the ice sheets. 

Radar sounding is one of the few unique geophysical tools that allow us to image and constrain processes occur in these traditionally difficult-to-observe subsurface environments. Nonetheless, despite their usefulness, robust analysis of radar sounding data face several technical challenges. 

These include uncertainties related to spatially variable attenuation losses and roughness scattering. As a result, applications of ice-penetrating radar have so far been limited to local-scale studies and mapping distribution of static water within and beneath the glaciers. 

In this talk, I will present novel methods where I combine ice-penetrating radar and numerical ice-sheet modeling to extract additional information from radar sounding data. I will demonstrate how we can apply this joint radar-model technique to gain new geophysical insights into the structure and dynamics of subsurface drainage systems in the Greenland ice sheet. 

I will delve into the importance of understanding the large-scale characteristics of these systems for the overall dynamics of ice sheets and their response to surface melting. 

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The School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Presents Dr. Joseph O'Rourke, Arizona State University

Vigorous fluid motions drive dynamos today in Earth and all major planets except Mars and Venus. Here, I will show how magnetic histories of rock/metal planets directly depend on conditions during their accretion and differentiation. 

In particular, giant impacts and planetary size and water content are always critical to dynamo energetics. Precipitation of magnesium oxide boosts the likelihood of dynamo activity in Earth and Venus, but hydrogenation of the core of Mars destroyed its dynamo. 

My future plans center on comparative planetology to understand fundamental interior processes that affect planetary atmospheres and surfaces. In parallel with computational geodynamics, I aim to develop spacecraft missions that provide ground truth for my models. To illustrate, I will present my proposed SmallSat mission to (2) Pallas—the largest unexplored protoplanet in the main asteroid belt and parent of many near-Earth asteroids.

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The School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Presents Dr. Michael Sori, Univeristy of Arizona

Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt, has been revealed by NASA’s Dawn mission to be a complex geophysical world. Its transitional nature – somewhere between icy and rocky, asteroid and planet – allows Ceres to elucidate a number of planetary processes. 

In this talk, I will focus on icy volcanism, also called cryovolcanism. I will argue that surface features show Ceres to be geologically active, and geophysical models constrain its cryovolcanic rate. The level of activity I infer shows that cryovolcanism is an important geological process in the solar system, but is not as dominant as silicate volcanism. 

I will end by discussing ways in which the geophysical techniques here can be used to study other topics on Mars, Mercury, the Moon, and Ceres, including how the Dawn data can be used to investigate ice deformation, the faint young sun, and planetary differentiation.

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December 13, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

Editor's Note. This story was published originally by the Scheller School of Business on Dec. 12, 2018. It has been adapted for the College of Sciences.

Georgia Tech’s Carbon Reduction Challenge (CRC), a program that helps students design and implement large-scale projects to save energy, received two first-place awards at the 2019 Reimagine Education Conference & Awards in San Francisco. The international competition spotlights innovative initiatives aimed at enhancing student learning outcomes and employability across five disciplines and 17 categories.

The CRC is co-directed by College of Sciences Professor and Georgia Tech Global Change Program Director Kim Cobb and Scheller College of Business Professor and Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business (“Center”) Faculty Director Beril Toktay. The CRC pairs teams of undergraduate students with a diverse set of local organizations to identify opportunities for large-scale energy efficiency gains that will save greenhouse gas emissions and deliver significant energy cost savings.

This year’s competition received 1,184 project submissions from 39 countries. Submissions were evaluated by 160 international judges. The CRC won first place in the “Sustainability” category as well as first place in the “Natural Sciences” discipline. It was also selected as one of ten finalists to advance to the Grand Finale.

The CRC began as a class project that Cobb initiated in 2007. In 2017, it was expanded to include co-op and internship students across Georgia Tech in collaboration with Toktay and with funding from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation’s NextGen Committee and the Scheller College of Business Dean’s Innovation Fund. It also became an affiliated project of the Georgia Tech Serve-Learn-Sustain initiative.

In 2018, the CRC expanded its reach by inviting Emory University students to participate as well. The CRC became an official activity of the Georgia Climate Project, a statewide, multi-year effort to improve understanding of climate impacts and solutions across the state and to encourage Georgia residents to take effective, science-based climate action. CRC projects launched since 2017 have already resulted in over two million pounds of avoided CO2 emissions and are projected to deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars in avoided energy costs to partner organizations. Finalists present their projects at a public poster expo, and judges score projects to decide the winners who receive cash prizes thanks to a gift from the Sheth Family Foundation.

Reimagine Education is sponsored in part by the Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

December 12, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

Lucas R. Liuzzo is the first in his immediate family to receive a college education.

He grew up in Jamestown, New York, which has about 30,000 residents. For his undergraduate degree, he attended the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.

The transition to living in a city with four times the population of his home town was difficult. “I wasn’t sure I could even survive in such a new environment. But I loved it,” Lucas says.

Ann Arbor’s big-city-yet-small-town gave Lucas the freedom to develop into a thriving young-adult. He graduated with a B.S. in Engineering in 2014. He could have stayed in Michigan to pursue graduate studies in solar space physics.

Instead, Lucas chose to try something different and make new connections. His next move was to Atlanta, an even bigger city than Ann Arbor. At Georgia Tech, he studied magnetospheric space physics. He graduates with a Ph.D. in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

What is the most important thing you learned at Georgia Tech?
Performing research at Georgia Tech is at the cutting edge of science, where spending days, weeks, or even months on a problem isn’t unheard of. Sometimes your method can simply send you down the wrong path, which can be extraordinarily frustrating. Graduate school has shown me that hard work and diligence do not often mean you’re on the right path, but that’s exactly the point of academic research.

When finally you reach the solution to an especially difficult problem, it is extremely gratifying, even if you may be the only person in the world who knows the answer.

What is your proudest achievement at Georgia Tech?
Defending my dissertation.

It has taken me five years to obtain my Ph.D. I’m not sure I’ve ever put so much time and dedication into anything over such a long stretch of time. I’m very proud of my efforts culminating in my degree from Georgia Tech.

Which professor(s) or class(es) made a big impact on you?
My advisor, Sven Simon, afforded me every opportunity to become the best I could be scientifically. He supported me throughout my time here.

The most impactful classes were the engineering courses with Morris Cohen and Waymond Scott, in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. These courses helped me to appreciate other academic disciplines that share many complementary theoretical approaches with my own, but can be drastically different in application.

What is your most vivid memory of Georgia Tech?
The changing seasons, which I looked forward to year after year of studying at Tech.

Georgia Tech has a beautiful campus, but the four seasons bring out its true beauty. I arrived in August during the dog days of summer. I’ve never been so consistently hot and sticky for so many consecutive days.

Surviving the Atlanta summer is rewarded with a gorgeous fall. Brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds of the foliage dot the trees on campus. It’s a sight to behold.

This beauty is topped on the rare occasion of an Atlanta winter snowfall. Staring across Tech Green at the Campanile dusted in a slight layer of clean, white, crisp snow is magical.

The cold days of winter are as short-lived as the daylight during this time of year. The spring that follows colors the campus in tree blossoms that rival a Bob Ross painting. On campus during spring, even the pollen is Tech Gold.

In what ways did your time at Georgia Tech transform your life?
Academically and professionally I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my Georgia Tech degree. Personally, I’ve made everlasting friendships with amazing individuals who have had a huge impact on who I have become.

What unique learning activities did you undertake?
I attended conferences abroad and worked with colleagues in Germany. During those few weeks working and living in a country that was entirely new and foreign to me, I formed bonds – professional and personal – that will last a lifetime.

What advice would you give to incoming graduate students at Georgia Tech?
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. In graduate school, it’s easy to fall into the doldrums of research and follow the same routine, day after day.

Break out of the campus bubble, explore the city, and find your niche. Between classes, research, and conferences, your days fill up quickly. Be sure to take breaks.

While Tech offers lots of opportunities to relax, Atlanta is a huge, diverse city. It’s important – and often liberating – to explore your surroundings and talk with individuals who aren’t students themselves.

Where are you headed after graduation?
I’ll be at Tech for a few months working as a postdoctoral researcher. I’ll be working in the same group as my graduate studies, so I’m already 100% up to speed with my research topic and can start making meaningful progress right from the start.

December 12, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

They chose to study at Georgia Tech. Once here, they discovered that the academic rigor and leading-edge science research they’ve heard so much about is true – and demands their best. Some found Tech overwhelming at times, but all succeeded.

Whether their journey started in Georgia, in another state, or in another country, our graduates discovered something else in the heart of Atlanta: the Tech experience, which involves forming new and lasting friendships, stretching out of their comfort zones, becoming part of the Georgia Tech family, and more.

Meet five graduating students from the College of Sciences. Headed in various directions—in the U.S. or overseas—each feels well-prepared for the next step in their professional life because of their Georgia Tech education. Georgia Tech helped them achieve their goals and join a larger community, one that values friendship and collaboration, as well as scholarship.

Meet five of the College of Sciences' Fall 2018 graduates:

Congratulations, Fall 2018 graduates! We can't wait to see what comes next for you! The world awaits you. 

December 7, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

Major Scientific Society's Decision to Honor Anti-Environment Senator Sparks Outcry
November 6, 2018

Members of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) are up in arms over the organization’s decision to give a prestigious award to Senator Cory Gardner, who in 2015 voted against ameasure declaring human activity “significantly contributes to climate change.”

The School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences' Kim Cobb is leading the charge to challenge the AGU's decision. "It really becomes an issue of integrity," she told Earther.


December 5, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

Humans will soon embark on a detailed characterization of habitable planets beyond the solar system. Space-based telescopes probing the atmospheres of small planets around nearby stars will shortly be joined by ground-based observatories. What should these instruments be looking for?

Christopher Reinhard, an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, aims to define the atmospheric chemistries that provide strong evidence for the presence of life at a planet’s surface – or atmospheric biosignatures. He recently received a three-year grant from NASA’s Exobiology Program to develop a model of Earth’s early atmosphere and ocean, about 4 billion years ago, when the planet was devoid of oxygen.

Joining Reinhard on this research is a multi-institutional team, including co-principal investigators Shawn Domagal-Goldman of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Andrew Ridgwell of the University of California, Riverside, as well as collaborators Kazumi Ozaki of the University of Tokyo and Giada Arney of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

“Our ultimate aim is to develop robust atmospheric biosignatures for future analysis of extrasolar worlds, while providing computational tools for understanding the deep past and forecasting the long-term future of Earth’s biosphere. We’re fortunate to have support from NASA to take a big step in that direction.”

In looking for life beyond our solar system, Earth “provides a powerful natural lab for examining the processes that promote the emergence and maintenance of atmospheric biosignatures,” Reinhard says. However, Earth’s current atmospheric biosignatures come from eons of interactions between microbes, the oceans, and the Earth’s evolving geology. Reinhard’s team believes the most relevant atmospheric biosignatures in the search for extraterrestrial may be those from Earth’s very early age, before photosynthesis blanketed the planet with oxygen.  

Using the NASA grant, Reinhard’s team will examine the metabolic networks that would have controlled atmospheric biosignatures on the primitive Earth. The research will be aimed at developing an “ecophysiological module” that links microbial metabolism with ocean chemistry. The module will be embedded within an ensemble of computational models of atmospheric chemistry, climate, and 3-D ocean chemistry.

“We think this research will provide significant steps forward in our predictive understanding of the links between microbial metabolism and atmospheric chemistry, and will refine our understanding of the early evolution of Earth’s biosphere,” Reinhard says. “Our ultimate aim is to develop robust atmospheric biosignatures for future analysis of extrasolar worlds, while providing computational tools for understanding the deep past and forecasting the long-term future of Earth’s biosphere. We’re fortunate to have support from NASA to take a big step in that direction.”

Robert Schulmann is an American historian who became known for his work on Albert Einstein. He studied history, receiving  his doctorate in 1973 from the University of Chicago. In the early 1990s, he was an assistant professor of history at Boston University. Later he became director of the Einstein Papers Project. He is co-editor of the book "Einstein on Politics," based on Einstein's writings. 

The lecture is part of Georgia Tech's 2019 Martin Luther King Jr Celebration, Jan. 10-Feb. 2. 

Schulman will discuss the interplay the interplay of politics with Albert Einstein’s concerns for human rights and the trajectory of his professional career. How did a groundbreaking physicist come to be known as a keeper of the world's conscience?

The lecture will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations, proclaimed on Dec. 19, 1948. 

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