Susan Lozier is Distinguished Professor of Ocean Sciences, Duke University, and 
President-Elect of the American Geophysical Union. She is one of three finalists for the College of Sciences Dean search. She will present her vision of the college in this public seminar. 

More information about Lozier is here.

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February 12, 2019 | Atlanta, GA

As part of Georgia Tech’s year-long celebration of 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (#IYPT2019GT), the College of Sciences and the College of Design’s School of Music have partnered to present a performance of original music inspired by the periodic table.

Avneesh Sarwate, a student in the Masters of Science in Music Technology program, has composed music for #IYPT2019GT to be played by the School of Music’s laptop orchestra. The orchestra comprises first-year music technology majors enrolled in MUSI 2015 Laptop Orchestra, a required music technology course. They will play the composition using electronic devices, mostly laptop computers and mobile phones.

Technology allows musicians to access a wide palette of sounds, way beyond what traditional orchestral instruments deliver. Electronic sounds can be eerie, out-of-this world. With computer-aided manipulations of harmonics and other sound properties, the possibilities for unique musical experiences are endless.

When Sarwate explored using the periodic table as inspiration for new music, what resonated most with him was structure: how structure is so defining for both music and matter. From various analogies, including carbon allotropes, he selected the physical states of water – because of how familiar a phenomenon it is for water’s macroscopic structure to change before our very eyes.

“Water, in Three Movements” is inspired by the physical assemblies and dynamics of water molecules. The three movements correspond to water’s three phases: gas, liquid, and solid.

In the first movement, corresponding to the gaseous state, performers each control a program that plays the melody in a loop at incredibly high velocity, rendering the notes almost indistinguishable but creating a hazy sonic texture reminiscent of steam clouds or fog. The conductor’s gestures will control the movements of the aural cloud.

In the second movement, the liquid phase, the performers slow down the melody to where the notes are distinguishable, but still at different speeds. Like liquid water molecules, the melodies will slip and flow in and out of coordination as they move at different tempos. Again, the conductor will control the waves of sound.

The final movement, ice, will see the performers slowly coalesce to the same tempo and align their rhythms in lock-step, reminiscent of the freezing of a pond, with a single unified melody concluding the performance.

Sarwate is a multimedia artist, software engineer, and musician specializing in interactive art. He graduated with a B.S. in Engineering, major in Computer Science, from Princeton University in 2014. After stints as a software engineer with Applied Predictive Technologies and Yext, he came to Georgia Tech in 2017 for graduate studies, focusing on audiovisual improvisation.

The College of Sciences thanks School of Music Professor and Chair Jason Freeman for making possible this special collaboration to celebrate #IYPT2019GT.  

“Water, in Three Movements” will premiere in February 21, 2019 at the atrium of the Klaus Advanced Computing Building, 266 Ferst Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30332. The performance will begin at 11 AM. Stay for a chance to win Georgia Tech's popular periodic table T-shirt.

The School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Presents Dr. Daniel Westervelt, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

Connecting Regional Aerosol Emissions Reductions to Local and Remote Temperature and Precipitation Responses

The unintended climatic implications of aerosol and precursor emission reductions implemented to protect public health are not well understood. 

I will present research investigating the mean and extreme temperature, cloud, and precipitation response to regional changes in aerosol emissions using three coupled chemistry-climate models: NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Coupled Model 3 (GFDL-CM3), NCAR Community Earth System Model (CESM1), and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies ModelE2 (GISS-E2). 

My approach contrasts a long present-day control simulation from each model with fourteen individual aerosol emissions perturbation simulations. 

I will discuss responses and propose physical mechanisms for local and remote precipitation and temperature responses to these individual regional aerosol perturbations around the world. In particular, I will discuss connections to the location of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, the West African monsoon and Sahel drought, the South Asian monsoon, and projections onto known modes of climatic variability such as the North Atlantic Oscillation and the El Nino-Southern Oscillation. 

I will also show how temperature and precipitation extremes (such as heatwaves and droughts) can be impacted by changing aerosol emissions. Finally, I will present my vision for future directions of research in this field. 

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The School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Presents Dr. Manoochehr Shirzaei, Arizona State University

SAR Interferometry and Applications in Hydrology and Induced Earthquake Forecasting

With the global population surpassing 7.7 billion people in 2019, the impacts of human activities on the environment are noticeable almost everywhere on our planet. The consequences of these impacts are still elusive, particularly when trying to quantify them at larger scales. 

It is essential to trace environmental changes from a local to global scale over several decades. This task is increasingly fulfilled by Earth observation (EO) satellites, in particular, radar imaging instruments. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), a cloud-penetrant microwave imaging system, provides unique day-night and all-weather monitoring capabilities. 

Availability of repeated SAR acquisitions with similar imaging geometry allows performing interferometric SAR (InSAR) processing. InSAR uses radar to illuminate an area of the Earth’s surface and measures the change in distance between satellite and ground surface, as well as the returned signal strength. Such measurements are suitable for generating high-resolution digital elevation models and accurate terrain deformation maps.

Here, I will review some of the recent advances in developing modern multitemporal InSAR algorithms. 

Next, I present examples that demonstrate the value of high-resolution InSAR deformation maps in constraining the evolution of groundwater resources and crustal stress in Central Valley California as well as understanding the underlying mechanism that drives the injection-induced seismicity in Midwest US.  

We find that during 2007-2010 drought, a maximum subsidence rate of 20-25 cm/yr and 1-3 cm/yr occurred in the San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento Valley, respectively. Using a 1-D poroelastic calculation, we find a loss of 21.3±7.2 km3 in the volume of groundwater across the Valley. We also inferred a permanent reduction of ~2% in aquifers-storage capacity.

Wastewater injection over the past decade has increased seismicity in the central USA, in some cases accompanied by detectable surface uplift. We show that the injection-induced uplift rate is controlled by the hydraulic diffusivity of the injection medium and thus we can use this uplift to constrain subsurface properties and pore pressure evolution. 

Hydraulic diffusivity determines the development of pore pressure and hence the origin and location of induced seismicity. We develop a physics-based forecasting model that integrates seismic, hydrogeologic and injection data to simulate the magnitude-time distribution of the M3+ earthquakes for the period of injection operation in Texas and Oklahoma.

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February 6, 2019 | Atlanta, GA

Kim Cobb testified today before the House of Representatives' Natural Resources Committee hearing on climate change. She urges early action to counter the devastating impacts of climate change. Cobb is a professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and the director of the Georgia Tech Global Change Program.

Following is the full text of Cobb's prepared oral testimony.

"I thank Chairman Grijalva and the rest of the Committee for allowing me to contribute to this important conversation about our nation’s climate future. My message today is simple: there are many no-regrets, win-win actions to reduce the growing costs of climate change, but we’re going to have to come together to form new alliances, in our home communities, across our states, and yes, even in Washington. I know I speak for thousands of my colleagues when I say that scientists all over the country are willing and eager to assist policymakers in the design of data- driven defenses against both current and future climate impacts.

"As a Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology for the last 15 years, I have published over 60 peer-reviewed articles, been awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and am currently a Lead Author for the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"In my lab, we study past climate variations using samples that we collect on remote Pacific islands. I love my work. But three years ago, I witnessed something that would change my life forever.

"In 2015, we received funding from the National Science Foundation for a series of field expeditions to document the evolution of a strong El Niño event projected that winter. I had waited 15 years for this opportunity. However, little did I know that ocean temperatures 6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than usual would kill up to 90% of the coral at our study site. And I had a front-row seat to the carnage. 2016 would go on to become the worst global-scale coral bleaching and mortality event on record. Personally, 2016 was my wakeup call.

"Unfortunately, 2017 and 2018 brought a number of devastating wake-up calls much closer to home. Hurricanes Harvey, Lane, and Florence delivered record-breaking rainfall while Hurricanes Maria and Michael decimated entire communities with their force, including many in my home state of Georgia. The National Climate Assessment – released this last November – documents how climate change loads the dice in favor of extreme precipitation events, and how warmer oceans fuel larger tropical storms. On the other side of the country, record-breaking wildfires raged across California, linked to prolonged drought and warmer temperatures. The economic toll of these disasters can be measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars. However, their real toll - the vast human suffering left in their wake - is immeasurable.

"And beyond these deadly extremes, a host of additional climate change impacts represent a growing threat to ecosystems and communities alike. Sea levels are rising, with up to 6ft of global sea level rise projected this century. Drought threatens water supplies across the western US, with no end in sight. The oceans are becoming more acidic as excess atmospheric carbon dioxide reacts with seawater.

"Climate change impacts are now detectable all across America. And they will get worse. That’s the bad news. I’m sure you’re ready for some good news, and there is plenty to go around.

"The good news is that science can help inform measures to protect communities, as well as our oceans, forests, parks, waterways, and wildlife, from the most devastating impacts of climate change. Here, early action is essential to the success of these approaches, delivering vast returns on investment.

"Many jurisdictions – from the local to the federal level - have developed a range of climate adaptation measures informed by rigorous science, stakeholder engagement, and cost-benefit analyses. Towards that end, The National Climate Assessment provides an actionable blueprint for such adaptive measures, including an in-depth analysis of climate impacts on ecosystem structure, function, and services.

"The other good news is that it’s not too late to avoid the most damaging impacts of future climate change. We have the tools we need to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And in doing so, we will enjoy cleaner water, cleaner air, and healthier communities.

"The rapid expansion of renewable energy across the nation demonstrates a strong appetite for carbon-free, clean power on the part of private homeowners and large utilities alike. Even so, US greenhouse gas emissions were up 3% last year. The bottom line is that we are running out of time. Comprehensive federal policies are needed to speed the transition to low-carbon energy sources. Top on the list must be a price on carbon, to reflect the true costs of continued fossil fuel emissions, and to incentivize consumers, companies, and the market to find the cheapest, most effective means of reducing emissions. With or without a price on carbon, increased energy efficiency is a win-win strategy that can deliver energy cost savings, while reducing harmful air pollution.

"Lastly, there is a strong case to be made that we can deploy our vast forests, grasslands, and coastal marshes in service to natural carbon sequestration. At its most basic level, this means designing strategies to preserve our mature forests, grasslands, and wetlands, with their rich carbon reserves, in the face of continued climate change.

"Listening to the stories of those whose lives have already been destroyed by climate change I have to wonder: How bad will it have to get for us to recognize that climate change represents a clear and present threat, and to act decisively to protect ourselves and the natural resources that we all depend on?

"As a climate scientist, I’m heartened by recent polls showing that nearly 3 in 4 Americans are concerned about global warming, and support a range of policy options to address it.

"And as a mother to four young children, I’m heartened by the sea of young people demanding that we not squander their chances for climate stability.

"I urge this committee to center the robust findings of climate science in making critical policy decisions about our nation’s natural resources by:

  1. moving to protect these resources, and the communities that depend on them, from the suite of ongoing, well-established climate change impacts
  2. ensuring that our use of federal lands is geared towards advancing climate solutions, rather than expanding the scope of the climate change problem."

Cobb's full written statement is available here. 

February 1, 2019 | Atlanta, GA

Georgia Tech researchers have uncovered a spacecraft's close encounter with Jupiter’s moon Europa. Evidence had been lurking in data obtained 19 years ago by the spacecraft.

Through remote observations, researchers have discovered plumes of water vapor shooting off the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. These plumes, more than 200 meters high, are reminiscent of the geysers in Yellowstone Park.

Like Earth, the giant planet Jupiter has a strong internal magnetic field. Indeed, if it were visible to the naked eye, the region of space dominated by this magnetic field – called the magnetosphere of Jupiter – would be the largest object in our solar system. That’s according to Sven Simon, an associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS).

Data collected directly by spacecraft indicate that the plumes locally deform Jupiter’s magnetic field near Europa and cause a change in the planet’s magnetospheric plasma flow around the Europa. A water vapor plume at Europa leaves a characteristic “signature” in Jupiter’s magnetic field, which can be identified in data from a spacecraft, Simon says.

Measurements by spacecraft are limited, however, says Lucas Liuzzo, a postdoctoral researcher working with Simon. A spacecraft can measure the magnetic field only along its one-dimensional trajectory, but the interaction between the plumes and their environment is complex and three-dimensional. Therefore, scientists use simulation models to place one-dimensional observations in the context of a three-dimensional interaction.

This approach is used by Simon’s group at EAS, called MOSS (Magnetospheres in the Outer Solar System). Recently, the effort revealed a previously unrecognized encounter between a plume from Europa and a spacecraft almost 20 years ago. The accepted paper was posted Jan. 31, 2019, in Geophysical Research Letters.  The work received financial support from NASA.

In 1989, NASA launched the spacecraft Galileo to study the moons of Jupiter, including Europa. Between 1996 and 2000, Galileo made several close flybys of Europa. On Jan. 3, 2000, the spacecraft completed its final Europa flyby, dubbed E26. 

Fast forward to 2018. For his Ph.D. project, second-year graduate student Hannes Arnold developed a simulation model of the interaction between Jupiter’s magnetospheric plasma and a possible water vapor plume at Europa. Using this model, Arnold analyzed magnetic field data gathered by Galileo.

The analysis identified signatures that could not be explained solely by the interaction of Jupiter’s magnetic field with Europa, Arnold says. “In recent years, we have learned that a plume could potentially be ‘visible’ in the magnetic field near Europa,” he adds. “Including a plume in our model was our best guess, but still a shot in the dark.”

To identify the origin of these peculiar signatures, Arnold carried out more than 250 simulations of Europa’s plasma environment during Galileo’s final flyby, E26. He arrived at a groundbreaking conclusion: the magnetic field data from this flyby almost 20 years ago contains unambiguous evidence of Galileo’s passage through a plume of water vapor, emanating near a distinct fracture line on Europa’s surface.

The intense outgassing from the plume locally pushes Jupiter’s magnetic field away from Europa, generating a distinct bulge in the magnetic pattern observed by Galileo, Liuzzo says.

Other scientists have modeled the magnetic field signatures from E26, Simon says, but “all of them had overlooked this important feature in the Galileo data.”

In combination with a 2018 study from University of Michigan researchers, the results “provide compelling evidence of persistent plume activity at Europa during the Galileo era,” Arnold says.

“They have immediate relevance for the planning of synergistic measurements during upcoming missions that aim to further characterize plume activity at Europa through in-situ observations.”

Figure Caption
Geometry of the Galileo E26 flyby of Europa as seen (a) from the upstream, Jupiter-averted side and (b) when looking from the Europa’s southern hemisphere. The white line denotes the spacecraft’s trajectory. (Courtesy Geophysical Research Letters)

January 31, 2019 | Atlanta, GA

The American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) has elected 109 new fellows in 2019. Among them are Joel Kostka and Joshua Weitz.

Kostka is a professor in the Schools of Biological Sciences and of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Weitz is a professor in the School of Biological Sciences. Both are members of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience.

AAM is an honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). Fellows of the AAM are elected annually through a selective, peer-review process, based on records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.

The election of Kostka as AAM fellow comes shortly after another high recognition of his contributions to microbiology. In 2018, he was named Distinguished Lecturer by ASM. In this capacity, Kostka speaks at ASM branch meetings throughout the U.S. His visits provide opportunities for students and early-career research microbiologists to interact with prominent scientists.

Kostka is well-known for his research in environmental microbiology. His lab characterizes the role of microorganisms in the functioning of ecosystems, especially in the context of bioremediation and climate change. He is co-principal investigator of C-IMAGE-III. This consortium is funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative to study the environmental consequences of the release of petroleum hydrocarbons on living marine resources and ecosystem health.

Weitz holds courtesy appointments in the Schools of Physics and of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is also the founding director of Georgia Tech’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences, a Simons Foundation Investigator in Ocean Processes and Ecology, and author of an award-winning book on quantitative viral ecology.

"I'm grateful for the recognition and excited to continue our ongoing, collaborative efforts to understand the role of ecology and evolution in shaping microbial and viral life," Weitz says.

Weitz’s research focuses on the interactions between viruses and their microbial hosts, that is, the viral infections of microbial life. Weitz is motivated by seemingly simple questions: What happens to a microbe when it is infected by a virus? How do infections of single cells translate into population- and system-wide consequences?

AAM fellows represent all subspecialties of the microbial sciences and are involved in basic and applied research, teaching, public health, industry, or government service. They hail from all around the globe. Kostka and Weitz join fellows from France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Israel, Korea, Taiwan, and China.

January 28, 2019 | Atlanta, GA

Experts examine what’s now, what’s next for sea-level rise
The Brunswick News, Jan 22

The hope is that in 80 years we're not submerged in water.

Kim Cobb joined community leaders and the state's top experts in sea-level rise at College of Coastal Georgia to take a good look at sea-level rise in Glynn County, what's to come, and what the community can do to move forward. The panel discussed predictions, cultural and socioeconomic risks assocated with sea-level rise, and flood insurance.

Kim Cobb is the the Georgia Power Chair and ADVANCE Professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

A Frontiers in Science Lecture to celebrate 2019, the International Year of the Periodic Table

The history of silicon is usually told as a history of electronic materials and devices. However, it is better told as a history of manufacturing innovation. This talk will take a journey through the manufacturing innovations that transformed silicon from its humble beginnings as the most abundant metal in Earth’s crust to the enabler of the computer chips that underpin the modern economy.

The journey begins with the extraction of silicon from sand and its processing into the most compositionally pure and structurally perfect human-made material. It continues through the mid-20th century breakthroughs that allowed fabrication and interconnection of high-quality electronic devices to form integrated circuits.

It is from this perspective that we can most easily appreciate silicon’s impact on modern society and why it is finding increasing utility in technology areas as diverse as renewable energy, environmental sensing, and augmented reality. It is also from this perspective that we can understand silicon’s limitations and begin to see what innovations might be necessary to enable silicon’s next act.

About the Speaker
Michael A. Filler is an associate professor and the Traylor Faculty Fellow in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech. His research program lies at the intersection of chemical engineering and materials science, focusing on the synthesis, understanding, and deployment of nanoscale materials for applications in electronics, photonics, and energy conversion.

He is co-director of the Community for Research on Active Surfaces and Interfaces (CRĀSI) and the host of Nanovation, a bimonthly podcast about the intersection of nanoscience, technology, manufacturing, and society.

Filler has received numerous awards for his research and teaching, including the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Georgia Tech Sigma Xi Young Faculty Award, and the CETL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. He also has been recognized as a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Environmental Chemistry Mentor.

About Frontiers in Science Lectures
Lectures in this series are intended to inform, engage, and inspire students, faculty, staff, and the public on developments, breakthroughs, and topics of general interest in the sciences and mathematics. Lecturers tailor their talks for nonexpert audiences.

About the Periodic Table Frontiers in Science Lecture Series
Throughout 2019, the College of Sciences will bring prominent researchers from Georgia Tech and beyond to expound on little-discussed aspects of chemical elements:

  • Feb. 6, James Sowell, How the Universe Made the Elements in the Periodic Table
  • March 5, Michael Filler, Celebrating Silicon: Its Success, Hidden History, and Next Act

  • April 2, John Baez, University of California, Riverside, Mathematical Mysteries of the Periodic Table
  • April 18, Sam Kean, Author, The Periodic Table: A Treasure Trove of Passion, Adventure, Betrayal, and Obsession
  • Sept. 12, Monica Halka, The Elusive End of the Periodic Table: Why Chase It?
  • October, Taka Ito, Turning Sour, Bloated, and Out of Breath: Ocean Chemistry under Global Warming (This will take place on the Thursday of Homecoming Week 2019)
  • Nov. 12, Margaret Kosal, The Geopolitics of Rare and Not-So-Rare Elements
Closest public parking for the March 5 lecture is Visitors Area 4, Ferst Street and Atlantic Drive, http://pts.gatech.edu/visitors#l3  
Refreshments served after every lecture

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