March 29, 2019 | Atlanta, GA

Researchers gather in Georgia Tech on April 1-4, 2019, for OceanVisions 2019 – Climate to discuss solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing ocean health.

The summit is the first public event of Ocean Visions, a consortium of leading institutions involved in ocean research and science. The consortium’s nine founding partners, including Georgia Tech, joined forces to collaborate on scientifically sound, scalable, impactful, and viable ocean conservation solutions.

At the meeting, the first Ocean Visions Tethys Award will be presented to Jane Lubchenco, former director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Distinguished University Professor at Oregon State University. The award is named after the Greek goddess of water; it honors role models who contributed to, promoted, enabled, or raised awareness about ocean solutions and who inspire new generations of ocean experts and leaders.

"The ocean is our past and our future. Healthy people, healthy communities, and healthy economies depend directly on a healthy ocean."

“The ocean is our past and our future. Healthy people, healthy communities, and healthy economies depend directly on a healthy ocean,” Jane Lubchenco says. “Ocean Visions is a pioneering endeavor that is committed to delivering comprehensive, science-led solutions to the ocean’s many challenges – solutions that are scalable at a global level. That has never been done before.”

Lubchenco’s Tethys Award lecture will be live streamed on April 1.

"Addressing the challenges facing our oceans will take an ambitious effort that brings together the best talent in our nation."

“Addressing the challenges facing our oceans will take an ambitious effort that brings together the best talent in our nation,” says G. Wayne Clough, secretary emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution and president emeritus of Georgia Tech. Clough will open the summit and introduce the consortium.

“Ocean Visions provides much-needed optimism for the future of our oceans,” says Emanuele Di Lorenzo, director of the Georgia Tech Ocean Science & Engineering Program. A professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Di Lorenzo leads the host team at Georgia Tech.

The Ocean Visions consortium consists of Georgia Tech, Smithsonian Institution, Stanford University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography University of Georgia, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Georgia Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

The 2019 Karlovitz Lecture and a Frontiers in Science Lecture to celebrate 2019, the International Year of the Periodic Table

The 2019 Karlovitz Lecture will be delivered by best-selling author Sam Kean.

Kean's book about the periodic table, "The Disappearing Spoon," answers many uncommon questions about chemical elements: Why did Gandhi hate iodine? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium? How did radium nearly ruin Marie Curie’s reputation? And why did tellurium lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history? 

According to Kean, the periodic table is one of humanity’s crowning scientific achievements, but it’s also a treasure trove of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession.

About the Speaker
Best-selling author Sam Kean’s book “The Disappearing Spoon” delves into every element in the periodic table and explains each one’s role in science, money, mythology, war, the arts, medicine, alchemy, and other areas of human history, from the Big Bang through the end of time.

In addition to “The Disappearing Spoon,” Sam Kean has several other titles on the New York Times bestselling list: “Caesar’s Last Breath,” “The Dueling Neurosurgeons,” and “The Violinist’s Thumb.” All of  his books were named Amazon top science books of the year. His work has been featured on NPR’s “Radiolab,” “All Things Considered,” and “Fresh Air.”

Sam Kean will sign books after the lecture.

About the Karlovitz Lecture
The lecture is made possible by an endowment in memory of College of Sciences Dean Les Karlovitz, who served as dean for 16 years until 1989. Seeking to broaden intellectual discourse on campus, the series focuses on speakers whose work has led them to stretch across disciplinary boundaries. 

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 31, Taka Ito, Turning Sour, Bloated, and Out of Breath: Ocean Chemistry under Global Warming 
  • Nov. 12, Margaret Kosal, The Geopolitics of Rare and Not-So-Rare Elements

Closest visitor parking is Area 6 (Fifth Street and Spring) or Area 8 (Tech Square) on the parking map,

Event Details


March 25, 2019 | Atlanta, GA

By Brent Verrill, Communications Manager, Brent Byer Institute for Sustainable Systems

Twenty-three Georgia Tech undergraduate students have been selected for the second class of Sustainable Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF). Among them are Kathryn McCarthy, School of Biological Sciences; Shivan Mittal, School of Physics; and Gigi Pavur, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.  

McCarthy and Mittal are among the 20 new fellows. Pavur is among the three who are returning from the previous year of the program.

The fellows represent all six colleges at Georgia Tech and were selected from a highly qualified and competitive field of students.

  • William Abdallah, Industrial Engineering
  • Joseph Buehler, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Leo Chen (returning), Computer Science
  • Anielle Duritza, Environmental Engineering
  • Kian Halim (returning), Computational Media
  • Kyte Harvey, Mechanical Engineering
  • Connor Hawley, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Chloe Kiernicki, Architecture
  • Elizabeth Krakovski, Public Policy
  • Micah Landwermeyer, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Matthew Lim, Computer Engineering
  • Farouk Marhaba, Computer Science
  • Kat Matthews, Business
  • Kathryn McCarthy, Biological Sciences
  • Shivan Mittal, Physics
  • Christi Nakajima, Public Policy
  • Gigi Pavur (returning), Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Leah Claire Nofsinger, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Ashlyn Sasser, Industrial Design
  • Alexandra Schultz, Chemical Engineering
  • Ranal Apeksha Tudawe, Mechanical Engineering
  • Jeniveve Vaia, Material Science and Engineering
  • Eliya Olivia Wagner, Environmental Engineering

The research fellows, who are paid, are developing prototypes of interactive building-monitoring systems that convey the unique elements, qualities, and performance of the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, which is under construction. The systems will also monitor the behaviors that the buiding engenders among its occupants and visitors.

Through SURF, the students will learn about sustainability, systems thinking, and how to apply these principles to the Georgia Tech Living Building. Their work is facilitated by Michael Chang, deputy director of the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems.

March 21, 2019 | Atlanta, GA

Editor's note: This opinion article by Jennifer Glass and Kim Cobb was originally published in Eos on March 15, 2019. It is reproduced here with permission from Eos.

AGU has extended its deadline to 15 April for submission of nominations for 2019 AGU medals, awards, and prizes. This means there is still a full month to organize nominations!

Data show that white women, Asian women, and underrepresented minorities have not made sizeable gains in AGU Honors recognition. Outside of Macelwane Medals, there have been only 17 AGU medals awarded to women in AGU’s history, with only 4 awarded since the last census in 2012 [O’Connell, 2013], and almost all were awarded to white women.

"Data show that white women and underrepresented minorities have not made sizeable gains in AGU Honors recognition."

Disappointingly, AGU medals, awards, and prize nominations for women were lower in 2018 than in previous years, with only one woman medalist among the 16 awarded. In response to these dismal statistics, AGU leadership urged members to “expand the pool of nominations.”

We believe that demystifying the honors nomination process, encouraging collaborative nominations [Jaynes et al., 2019], and incentivizing nominations of members of underrepresented groups are key steps toward achieving gender, racial, and ethnic equity in AGU Honors.

Below we refute five common myths about the AGU Honors process that we have learned through our sustained efforts to nominate women in recent years: 

Myth 1: Only senior scientists can nominate their colleagues. While nominators and letter writers are often AGU Fellows or the like, anyone can assist with organizing a package. Neither of us is an AGU Fellow or medalist, but we have together coordinated over a dozen packages in the past several years.

Myth 2: Successful nominees must have h-indices through the roof. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no hard or soft h-index requirement for AGU Honors recipients; h-indices vary by subdiscipline and research style (large collaborations versus independent researcher). There is also evidence that h-indices are biased against women [Symonds et al., 2006]. Other limitations of the h-index are discussed in the 2014 AGU Fellows Program Review Task Force Report.

"There is also evidence that h-indices are biased against women."

Myth 3: The more famous the letter writers are, the better. It is far more effective to have a diverse set of letter writers who can speak with specificity and authority about the nominee’s impact and contributions than it is to have short, vague letters from big shots. And although it is often important to have at least one senior letter writer in a package, that person need not be the lead nominator.

Myth 4: Nominations must be organized months in advance. We get it; we’re all busy. But it doesn’t take more than a few dedicated hours to write a substantive, elegant letter for a cherished colleague. Although it helps to have at least a month of lead time in requesting letters, don’t let that stop you from trying to pull a package together. At the very worst, you will have laid the groundwork for a smooth nomination process the next year.

Myth 5: It is primarily the responsibility of women to nominate other women for awards. Across AGU sections, women members average 15% of the total membership at the “experienced” career level. By this faulty logic, nominations for women would hover near the 15% mark, with awardees being an even smaller percentage. In reality, a large percentage of men will need to coordinate, lead, or support nomination packages for women to move the needle.We urge AGU to catalyze change by publicly recognizing those who work purposefully to nominate members of underrepresented groups.

We urge AGU to catalyze change by publicly recognizing those who work purposefully to nominate members of underrepresented groups. 

In the past weeks, an Eos article by Jaynes et al. [2019] has provided excellent tips for organizing collaborative nominations, whereas Hendratta Ali offers more general advice in an AGU blog post.

We urge AGU to catalyze change by publicly recognizing those who work purposefully to nominate members of underrepresented groups. This recognition should extend beyond the lead nominator(s) to include supporting letter writers as well as package coordinators.

Possibilities include the following:

  • publishing the names of all those who contributed to successful nominations from underrepresented groups in Eos and reading them out loud at the Honor’s banquet
  • issuing special ribbons that read “Nomination Equity Champion” (or the like) for the Fall Meeting badges of anyone who contributed to a nomination from an underrepresented group
  • extending free Fall Meeting registration for anyone who contributed to a nomination from an underrepresented group, compiled from the nomination submission form
  • inviting early-career scientists to join section canvassing committees so that they might advance their more diverse colleagues for nomination while learning the ropes of AGU Honors nominations early in their careers

Several generations of scientists are watching, impatiently, for change that is coming far too slowly.


Jaynes, A., E. MacDonald, and A. Keesee (2019), Equal representation in scientific honors starts with nominations, Eos, 100

O’Connell, S. (2013), Consider nominating a woman for an AGU award, Eos Trans. AGU, 94, 99,

Symonds, M. R., et al. (2006), Gender differences in publication output: Towards an unbiased metric of research performance, PloS One, 1, e127,

Author Information

Jennifer B. Glass (@methanoJen), AGU Biogeosciences Fellow Nomination Committee 2017, 2018; AGU Biogeosciences Canvassing Committee 2019; and Kim M. Cobb (@coralsncaves), School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta

Citation: Glass, J. B., and K. M. Cobb (2019), Incentivizing equity and diversity in AGU Honors nominations, Eos, 100, Published on 15 March 2019.

Text © 2019. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Except where otherwise noted, images are subject to copyright. Any reuse without express permission from the copyright owner is prohibited.


March 20, 2019 | Atlanta, GA

Editor’s Note: This story was adapted from a March 18, 2019, press release by the University of California, Riverside.

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in our homes warn of a dangerous buildup of that colorless, odorless gas we associate with death. Astronomers, too, have assumed that a build-up of CO in a planet’s atmosphere would be a sure sign of lifelessness. Now, researchers from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and Georgia Tech are arguing the opposite: celestial CO detectors may alert us to distant worlds teeming with simple life forms.

“With the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope two years from now, astronomers will be able to analyze the atmospheres of some rocky exoplanets,” said Edward Schwieterman, the study’s lead author and a NASA Postdoctoral Program fellow in UCR’s Department of Earth Sciences. “It would be a shame to overlook an inhabited world because we did not consider all the possibilities.”

In a study published on March 15, 2019, in The Astrophysical Journal, the researchers used 1-D ecosphere-atmosphere and photochemical models to identify two intriguing scenarios in which CO readily accumulates in the atmospheres of living planets.

Scenarios of CO Accumulation

In the first scenario, the team found answers in our own planet’s deep past. On the modern, oxygen-rich Earth, CO cannot accumulate because it is quickly destroyed by chemical reactions in the atmosphere. But three billion years ago, the world was a different place. The oceans teemed with microbial life, but the atmosphere was nearly devoid of oxygen, and the sun was much dimmer.

The team’s models reveal that this ancient version of inhabited Earth could maintain CO levels of roughly 100 parts per million (ppm)—several orders of magnitude greater than the parts-per-billion traces of the gas in the atmosphere today.

“That means we could expect high carbon monoxide abundances in the atmospheres of inhabited but oxygen-poor exoplanets orbiting stars like our own sun,” said Timothy Lyons, one of the study’s co-authors, a professor of biogeochemistry in UCR’s Department of Earth Science, and director of the UCR Alternative Earths Astrobiology Center. “This is a perfect example of our team’s mission to use the Earth’s past as a guide in the search for life elsewhere in the universe.”

A second scenario is even more favorable for the buildup of CO: the photochemistry around red dwarf stars like Proxima Centauri, the star nearest our sun at 4.2 light years away. The team’s models predict that if a planet around such a star were inhabited and rich in oxygen, then we should expect the abundance of CO to be extremely high—anywhere from hundreds of ppm to several percent.

Implications for the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

“This has some really interesting implications for the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope mission, because planets around red dwarf stars also favor the buildup of methane even when oxygen is high,” said Christopher Reinhard, second author of the study, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and institutional principal investigator of the Alternative Earths Astrobiology Center. “Because James Webb is unlikely to be able to detect evidence of oxygen directly, in the near term, the presence of significant CO might actually be our best bet at indirectly fingerprinting oxygenated atmospheres.”

Earth-sized, rocky planets have been discovered orbiting in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri and other similar stars, meaning they could harbor liquid water, an essential ingredient for life. Such planets are likely targets for further characterization by the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in March 2021.

The current study is one component of a broad effort to prepare for these future missions by cataloguing different combinations of atmospheric gases that might be evidence of an inhabited world—so-called biosignature gases. Some gases, such as CO, had been proposed previously as ‘antibiosignatures’— evidence that a planet is not inhabited —if remotely detectable at sufficient abundance. But those assumptions only apply in specific cases.

“Although other studies have done exoplanet photochemical modeling that includes carbon monoxide, no one had focused on carbon monoxide on Earth-like exoplanets in such a systematic way,” Schwieterman said. “Now we have a guidebook for determining what levels of carbon monoxide are compatible with a photosynthetic biosphere.”

In addition to Schwieterman, Lyons, and Reinhard, the paper’s authors are Stephanie Olson, a former UCR graduate student and now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago; Kazumi Ozaki, a former NASA Postdoctoral Program fellow at Georgia Tech and now at Toho University, in Japan; Chester E. Harman from Columbia University; and Peng K. Hong from Chiba Institute of Technology, in Japan.

This project was funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

The School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Presents, Dr. Kynan Hughson, University of California Los Angeles

Dawn at Ceres or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love an Icy Dwarf Planet

After 11 years in space, NASA's Dawn mission to explore the uncharted worlds of the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres has come to an end. Join me in reflection of this overachieving spacecraft’s monumental legacy at Ceres. 

In its last three and a half years at Ceres, Dawn observed anomalous ammonium, vexatious volatiles, wandering water ice, freaky flows, effervescent evaporites, fantastic fractures, and many more peculiarities. In particular, I will discuss the geological mapping of Ceres, its diversity of lobate/fluidized-appearing deposits, and its elastically supported topography. 

Finally, through the use of geophysical modeling, I will discuss the implications of the aforementioned features on the composition and mechanical properties of the inner solar system's only dwarf planet

Event Details


The School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Presents Dr. Shi "Joyce" Sim, Carnegie Institution for Science

Tectonic Boundaries: A Modeling Perspective for Past and Present

Tectonic boundaries connect Earth’s interior to the surface. I use numerical modeling to study the dynamics at such boundaries where the interconnectedness with life and volatiles is strikingly apparent.

First, using synthetic plate configurations derived from whole mantle convection numerical models appropriate for various periods during Earth’s evolution, I show that mid-ocean ridges have remained submerged and their depths potentially constant through geological times. This allows for maximum hydrothermal activities, which not only influence the mantle’s geochemical evolution but also creates chemical disequilibrium that communities of organisms flourish on.

To further understand dynamics at mid-ocean ridges, I then employ two-phase flow methods to numerically understand how melt focuses from a ~100 km wide region of melt generation to a narrow neo-volcanic area of a few kilometers, varying spreading rates and background mantle permeability. The models can predict oceanic crustal thicknesses versus spreading rates, which fit well with the observations from geophysical surveys.

Three distinct melt focusing mechanisms are recognized in the models: 1) Melting pressure focusing, 2) Decompaction layers and 3) Ridge suction, of which the first two play dominant roles in focusing melt.

The manifestation of these mechanisms depends largely on the rheological parameterization and permeability of the mantle. The location and amount of melt present in the models agree to a certain extent with geophysical observations. The disagreements hint at the possibility that melting pressure focusing could be more significant than that presented here, which could provide constraints to mantle rheology and permeability.

Event Details


March 19, 2019 | Atlanta, GA

A postdoctoral scholar, or postdoc, “is an individual holding a doctoral degree who is engaged in a temporary period of mentored research and/or scholarly training for the purpose of acquiring the professional skills needed to pursue a career path of his or her choosing,” according to the National Postdoctoral Association.

Among the most coveted postdoctoral appointments are those from the NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP). These fellowships offer early-career researchers “the opportunity to share in NASA’s mission, to reach for new heights, and to reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind,” NPP says.

The College of Sciences is the proud host of six NPP fellows advancing NASA’s mission in astrobiology and solar system exploration. The concentration of talent testifies to Georgia Tech’s vibrant astrobiology and space science research communities.   

Meet the six NPP fellows whose scientific career paths are being shaped by their mentors in the College of Sciences. Just as we invest in our students, we have a huge stake in the success of these early-career scientists. Like our graduates, they will be very much our alumni, too, after they move on.  

          Peter Conlin

          Moran Frenkel-Pinter

          Andrew Mullen

          Micah Schaible

          Nicholas Speller

          Nadia Szeinbaum

Anthropogenic and Natural NOx Emissions over the United States: Comprehensive Evaluations and Implications for Surface Ozone Prediction

Nitrogen oxides (NOx = NO + NO2) play crucial roles in the formation of ozone, aerosol, and acid rain which are unfavorable to human health, climate, and ecosystem stabilities. NOx is emitted by both anthropogenic and natural sources, such as fossil fuel combustion, soil bacteria, lightning, etc. Accurate knowledge of NOx emissions is essential for relevant scientific research and air pollution control policies.

Where is the best place to find living life beyond Earth? It may be that the small, ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn harbor some of the most habitable real estate in our solar system. Life loves liquid water, and these moons have lots of it!

These oceans worlds of the outer solar system have likely persisted for much of the history of the solar system. As a result they are highly compelling targets in our search for life beyond Earth.

Kevin Hand will explain why we think we know these oceans exist and what we know about the conditions on these worlds. He will focus on Jupiter’s moon Europa, which is a top priority for future NASA missions. The talk will also show how the exploration of Earth’s ocean is helping to inform our understanding of the potential habitability of worlds like Europa.

About the Speaker

Kevin Peter Hand is a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. His research focuses on the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the solar system, with emphasis on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. His work involves both theoretical and laboratory research on the physics and chemistry of icy moons in the outer solar system.

Hand is the director of the Ocean Worlds Lab at JPL. He served as co-chair for NASA’s Europa Lander Science Definition team. He is the Project Scientist for the Pre-Phase-A Europa Lander mission.

From 2011 to 2016, Hand served as deputy chief scientist for Solar System Exploration at JPL. He served as a member of the National Academies Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Sciences.

His work has brought him to the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, the sea ice near the North Pole, the depths of the Earth’s oceans, and to the glaciers of Kilimanjaro.

He was a scientist onboard James Cameron’s 2012 dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, and he was part of a 2003 IMAX expedition to hydrothermal vents in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Hand has made nine dives to the bottom of the ocean. In 2011 he was selected as a National Geographic Explorer.

Hand earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University and B.S. degrees from Dartmouth College. He was born and raised in Manchester, Vermont.

About the 2019 ExplOrigins Colloquium

This interdisciplinary colloquium and networking event has two goals: (1) to forge connections across Georgia Tech straddling the boundaries between technology development and hypothesis testing in the search for life’s beginnings and (2) to explore collaborative ideas among participants.

Organizing Committee

  • Peter Colin, postdoctoral fellow, School of Biological Sciences
  • Zijian Li, Ph.D. student, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Tyler Roche, Ph.D. student, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Micah Schaible, postdoctoral fellow, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Pengxiao Xu, Ph.D. student, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
  • George Zaharescu, postdoctoral fellow, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Faculty Advisor: Martha Grover, professor, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

More information is available here

Event Details



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