Oceanography & Climate


Calling all Georgia Tech graduate students!

Come with fellow graduate students and enjoy free dinner from Atlanta's finest food trucks, including:

  • Bento Bus
  • Bollywood Zing
  • Cattwampus
  • Viet-Nomies

Also featuring King of Pops, Ramblin' Wreck, goodie bags, and more!


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Graduate Students' Picnic 2017

December 31, 1969 |

The School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS) hopes to establish a joint degree program with top Chinese research institution Peking University (PKU), which is why the school has hosted a workshop for PKU undergraduates for the past two summers.

PKU has an advantage when it comes to making that joint degree program a reality: PKU Professor of Environmental Science Mei Zheng worked at Tech for 10 years before joining Peking University in 2010.

“I will do whatever I can to help to make this degree program happen,” Zheng says. “When I have an opportunity to bring my students overseas, I think about Georgia Tech. I know the professors here, and I want my students to benefit from this experience.”

Nine PKU students, all majors in environmental sciences/engineering/management, came to this year’s workshop. They visited Tech on July 25-Aug. 1 for classroom lectures and field research.

Georgia Tech faculty and senior researchers presented on topics related to air and water quality, energy and sustainability. The field research included a trip to an air quality monitoring site at Jefferson Street in Atlanta, which is a U.S. Geological Survey Southeastern Aerosol Research and Characterization (SEARCH) network site. Georgia Tech researchers have set up equipment to monitor air quality for related studies. The goal was to expose the visiting students to Tech’s high-level research on air and water quality, atmospheric chemistry, and climate science.

The PKU students got a chance to work with Georgia Tech professors along with graduate and undergraduate students, and they sampled Atlanta’s unique culture and cuisine.

This workshop, says EAS Associate Professor Nga Lee (Sally) Ng and one of the workshop organizers, built on last year’s success. “The students last year were really enthusiastic, and we got good feedback,” Ng says. “They enjoyed their trip to Atlanta and they learned a lot, so we said we should keep doing this.”

Second-year PKU student Yanchu Ke was interested in learning how air pollution could be affecting China’s population and was thrilled at the chance to see how researchers study the effects of pollution.

Another second-year PKU student, Xiang Chen, was impressed by the experience. “The professors here are very patient and enthusiastic,” he says. Coming to the workshop, he adds, gave him a chance to “learn about the American experience and the problems America had with air pollution.”

Zheng says that many of the students were already aware of certain Georgia Tech professors, thanks to their research publications.  “Now they are very excited to meet these professors in person, who are very easy to talk with and very helpful,” she notes

Zheng wants her students to know the hard work that awaits them if they decide to pursue graduate research. “I want them to see real life here as a graduate student, so they know the challenge,” Zheng says. “People might think graduate study is boring or scary or creates too much stress. When they see researchers enjoying their work, they say, ‘Okay, I could consider a Ph.D. degree in my future.’”

The passion of Tech’s EAS researchers for their work, Chen says, “motivates me the most. They have taught me that if you are really enthusiastic about the research, you can do it. But if you are not sure, it would be wise to think about it seriously.”

Ng is also a professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Faculty and students from that school and the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering also participated in the workshop. EAS Professor and Chair Greg Huey and EAS Faculty Support Coordinator Natasha Hackley-Lawson co-organized the workshop.

The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, PKU, and Emory University have had a joint Ph.D. program in BME since 2009.

Peking University Students at 2017 EAS Summer Workshop:

Juniors: Xiaorui Liu, Yunxiu Shi, Yenan Xu

Sophomores: Xiang Chen, Zehua Jing, Yanchu Ke, Fangshu Ye, Dandan Zhang, Yazhen Wu

December 31, 1969 |

In exactly one week, the great American eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, will sweep across the U.S. The Georgia Tech campus has geared up for a safe and enjoyable eclipse experience, beginning with the distribution of solar-eclipse glasses.

The first safety rule is never to look at the sun directly without special eye protection. Direct viewing can cause permanent eye damage.

For this reason, the College of Sciences and the Office of Undergraduate Education have teamed up to make available solar-eclipse glasses to the Georgia Tech community. We have plenty, but if not enough, we highly encourage sharing so everyone can view the solar sensation safely.

The glasses will be distributed at 12-1 PM on eclipse day, Aug. 21, 2017, at six locations across campus:

  • In front of Barnes and Noble in Tech Square
  • Under the Binary Bridge near Noonan Courtyard
  • At the atrium side of Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons
  • On Tech Walkway in front of the Starbucks side of Clough Commons and Skiles Building
  • In front of the Student Center
  • By the Einstein statue

After 1 PM, check for availability at Kessler Campanile.

Look for the distribution signs, and take note of the guidelines for safe viewing.

  • Inspect solar-eclipse glasses before use. Discard if shade is torn, punctured, or in any way separated from the frame.
  • Do not use with binoculars, telescopes, or cameras.
  • Do not use continuously for more than 3 minutes.
  • While using solar-eclipse glasses, do not move around, drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery.
  • Do not use solar-eclipse glasses with a diseased eye or after eye surgery.
  • Refer to solar-eclipse glasses for more information.         

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was first published by the Ocean Science and Engineering Program on Aug. 9, 2017.

In November 2016, Georgia Tech launched the Ph.D. in Ocean Science and Engineering (OSE,, an interdisciplinary graduate program across the schools and faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), Biological Sciences (BIOL) and Earth & Atmospheric Sciences (EAS). Ten students make up the inaugural cohort, which will begin its studies in the 2017 Fall semester.

The OSE program has two goals:

  • to educate the next generation of transdisciplinary ocean scientists and engineers by combining basic and applied sciences with innovative ocean technologies
  • to advance interdisciplinary research at the frontiers of the physical, biological, chemical and human dimensions of ocean systems. 

The program attracted a diverse group of applicants interested in specializing in Ocean Technology, Ocean Sustainability, Marine Living Resources, Ocean and Climate, and Coastal Ocean Systems. Following are the members of the inaugural class, who will begin their studies in the Fall 2017 semester. Their orientation will take place on Aug. 14-18, 2017.


Alexandra Muscalus (OSE-CEE)

Alexandra Muscalus obtained a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2016. She joins OSE with Georgia Tech Presidential and Institute Fellowships. Her research interests include ocean energy and fieldwork approaches to nature-based coastal resilience and shoreline change. She aspires to advance the field of coastal engineering as a professor. In her free time, Muscalus enjoys backpacking, scuba diving, playing musical instruments, running, and cooking.


Roth Conrad (OSE-BIOL)

Roth Conrad joins OSE with a Georgia Tech Presidential Fellowship. “I spent eight years traveling, exploring, and acquiring a diverse skill set and world view,” he says. “I worked on a sailboat in the Bahamas, which deeply affected my awareness of the environment.” Conrad also built and traveled across the country in a vegetable-oil-powered school bus, which inspired his fascination with microbiology and biological degradation. “Both experiences showed me how rewarding sharing ideas with people can be,” he says.

“My mind full of questions, appreciation for the environment, curiosity about microbes, and desire to share ideas are a few reasons why I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Ocean Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech.”


Abigail Johnson (OSE-EAS)

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology from Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, and a master’s degree in biological and environmental sciences from the University of Rhode Island, Abigail Johnson looks forward to continuing her education in the OSE program. With this Ph.D.,  she says, 

“I hope to advance our tools in search for and our knowledge of Earth’s deep ocean life.”

Specifically, she plans to use a novel high-pressure chamber to characterize microbial communities in methane hydrates from the Gulf of Mexico incubated under in situ pressures. Upon receiving a Ph.D., she plans to continue her career in academia, with the goals of “researching the mysteries of our deep ocean and educating our future generations.”


Benjamin Hurwitz (OSE-CEE)

Benjamin Hurwitz is an electrical engineer from Brooklyn, N.Y. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School with a focus in chemistry before attending Colby College, in Maine, from where he graduated with a B.A. in Applied Mathematics. A long-time scuba diver, he spent a year in the Virgin Islands, teaching and guiding divers around the reefs. He returned to school at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he spent three years earning a B.S. in Electrical Engineering with a focus on microelectronics.

His interests include marine robotic electrical systems, instrumentation design, and integrated circuit fabrication.

When he’s not working, he can be found on the ice rink, in the climbing gym, or on the ocean.


Gian Giacomo Navarra (OSE-EAS)

Since high school Gian Giacomo Navarra was interested in astronomy and mathematics. He pursued a bachelor’s degree in theoretical physics at the University of Bologna, Italy. After an undergraduate research experience in the University of Bristol, he got interested and completed a master’s degree in condensed matter and statistical mechanics in 2016. After completing his thesis in computational mechanics, Navarra says,

“I realized that the methods I learned and developed in statistical mechanics have the potential to advance the geosciences, in particular ocean and climate dynamics (for example, El Niño), which have a high degree of stochastic physics.”


Melissa Ruszczyk (OSE-BIOL)

Melissa Ruszczyk began her undergraduate education in 2013 at Allegheny College, in Meadville, Pa., where she did research in limnology, microbiology, and disease ecology.

She also fostered her passion for music, gave two public clarinet recitals during her four years at Allegheny, and was featured soloist and concert master of the wind symphony during her senior year.

Upon completion of her comprehensive senior research project, Serial Sonification of Chaoborus Behavior in Response to Daphnia Size: Intricacies of the Predator-Prey Relationship, Ruszczyk graduated magna cum laude with bachelor degrees in biology and music.


Youngjun Son (OSE-CEE)

Youngjun Son graduated with master degrees in industrial engineering and in naval architecture at Seoul National University in 2012. From 2011 to 2017, he researched hydrodynamics and mooring technologies at Hyundai Heavy Industries, in  Ulsan, Korea. His research experience includes environmental loads, potential theory, nonlinear damping, damping linearization, spectral analysis, extreme statistics, design waves, load combination factors, mooring, risers, dynamic positioning, and wave basin model tests. In the OSE program, he will study hydrodynamics and ocean mechanics... develop new devices for ocean applications such as renewable energy converters.

He is motivated by the need to integrate diverse and complex knowledge beyond one particular discipline in order to develop new marine resources.


Minda Monteagudo (OSE-EAS)

Minda Monteagudo completed her B.A. in Earth Science at the University of Southern California and M.S. in Earth Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She joins the OSE program as a second-year Ph.D. student, specializing in paleoclimate and working on...

...reconstructing past sea surface temperature changes over the last glacial cycle from sediment cores in the Central Equatorial Pacific, for which very few records exist.

Previously, she worked on refining Mg/Ca paleothermometry, one of the most widely applied proxies for reconstructing past surface sea temperatures.


Xiyuan Zeng (OSE-EAS)

Xiyuan Zeng completed a Bachelor of Engineering in Marine Resources Development Technology in 2017 at Shandong University, China. For his bachelor’s thesis, he studied the characteristics of the peripheral flow field of circular cylinders. As an undergraduate, he also conducted research in remote sensing to estimate the seasonal variation of marine phytoplankton in the South China Sea. He also participated in several student training programs to study marine bacillus species and the New Zealand hybrid abalone.

He would like to use computational fluid mechanics to study ocean circulation and biophysical interactions in the marine environment.

Tyler Vollmer (OSE-EAS)

From Riverside, Calif., Tyler Vollmer graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a double major in geophysics and mathematics/atmospheric and oceanic sciences at age 19, and began research in paleoclimatology. After being awarded a Georgia Tech Presidential Fellowship, he joined the OSE program. His research uses geochemical proxies, such as 13C, and 18O isotopes, and climate modeling to reconstruct past climatic conditions, such as temperature, ocean circulation, and atmospheric circulation. The results would add context to recent climate change.

In his spare time, Vollmer is a competitive figure skater (started at age 3). He was the Intermediate Men National Champion in 2013.

He hopes to continue in academia, with the goal of becoming a professor.


A Message of Appreciation

OSE program Directors Emanuele Di Lorenzo and Annalisa Bracco, professors in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, extend sincere thanks to Susan Cozzens, Georgia Tech’s vice provost for graduate education; Paul Goldbart, dean of the College of Sciences; Gary May, former dean of the College of Engineering and now the chancellor of the University of California, Davis; and the Georgia Tech leadership team for their support and encouragement in establishing the OSE program.

Di Lorenzo and Bracco also extend special thanks to the OSE Faculty who have worked very hard in recruiting this first class of OSE students.


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