Tag Archive for Earth and Environmental Sciences

Students Share Summer Research at Poster Session

On July 30, Wesleyan’s Summer Research Poster Session took place at Exley Science Center. More than 110 undergraduate research fellows from Math and Computer Sciences, Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Biology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, the Quantitative Analysis Center, and Psychology presented research at the event. (Photos by Laurie Kenney)

Aidan Bardos ’17 presented her research titled "The Effects of Nutrition on the Immune Response of Wooly Bear Caterpillars Infected by Parasitoid Wasps." Bardos' faculty advisor is Michael Singer, associate professor of biology and environmental studies.

Aidan Bardos ’17 presented her research titled “The Effects of Nutrition on the Immune Response of Wooly Bear Caterpillars Infected by Parasitoid Wasps.” Bardos’ faculty advisor is Michael Singer, associate professor of biology and associate professor of environmental studies.

A poster titled "Immunohistochemical Analysis of Status Epilepticus Mice Treated with Striatal-Enriched Tyrosine Phosphatase Inhibitor" was presented by Matt Pelton ’17. His advisor is Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.

A poster titled “Immunohistochemical Analysis of Status Epilepticus Mice Treated with Striatal-Enriched Tyrosine Phosphatase Inhibitor” was presented by Matt Pelton ’17. His advisor is Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.

O’Connell Named Society Fellow of the Geological Society of America

Suzanne O'Connell

Suzanne O’Connell

For her distinguished contributions to the geosciences, Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, recently became a Fellow of the Geological Society of America.

Society Fellowship is an honor bestowed on leading professional geoscientists. New fellows are nominated by existing GSA fellows in recognition of their contributions to the geosciences through such avenues as publications, applied research, teaching, administration of geological programs, contributing to the public awareness of geology, leadership of professional organizations, and taking on editorial, bibliographic and library responsibilities.

“Suzanne O’Connell is an accomplished geoscientist who highly honors the traditions of research and scholarship in the geosciences, but also pays great attention to the societal well-being of the community, reflected by her service in professional societies, her work in policy, and her persistent and caring attention to students,” said GSA fellow and nominator Marilyn Suiter MA ’81.

At Wesleyan, O’Connell teaches courses in the geosciences

O’Connell Edits Book that Focuses on Women in the Geosciences

womeningeosciencesSuzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the co-editor and co-author of the book, Women in the Geosciences: Practical, Positive Practices Toward Parity, published in May 2015 by Wiley and the American Geophysical Union.

The geoscience workforce has a lower proportion of women compared to the general population of the United States and compared to many other STEM fields. This volume explores issues pertaining to gender parity in the geosciences, and sheds light on some of the best practices that increase participation by women and promote parity.

Highlights include lessons from the National Science Foundation-ADVANCE; data on gender composition of faculty at top earth science institutions in the U.S.; implicit bias and gender as a social structure; strategies for institutional change; dual career couples; family friendly policies; the role of mentoring in career advancement for women; recruiting diverse faculty and models of institutional transformation.

O’Connell’s chapters are titled “Multiple and Sequential Mentoring: Building Your Nest”; “Learning to Develop a Writing Practice“; “Hiring a Diverse Faculty”; and “Lactation in the Academy: Accommodating Breastfeeding Scientists.”

O’Connell also is the faculty director of the McNair Program.

7 Faculty Promoted, 1 Awarded Tenure

In its most recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure on Hari Krishnan, associate professor of dance. He joins seven other faculty members who were awarded tenure earlier this spring.

In addition, seven faculty members were promoted to Full Professor: Mary Alice Haddad, professor of government; Scott Higgins, professor of film studies; Tsampikos Kottos, professor of physics; Edward Moran, professor of astronomy; Dana Royer, professor of earth and environmental sciences; Mary-Jane Rubenstein, professor of religion; and Gina Athena Ulysse, professor of anthropology.

Brief descriptions of their research and teaching appear below.

Associate Professor Krishnan teaches studio- and lecture-based dance courses on Mobilizing Dance: Cinema, the Body, and Culture in South Asia; Modern Dance 3; and Bharata Natyam.  His academic and choreographic interests include queering the dancing body, critical readings of Indian dance and the history of courtesan dance traditions in South India. He is a scholar and master of historical Bharatanatyam and also an internationally acclaimed choreographer of contemporary dance from global perspectives.

Professor Haddad teaches courses about comparative, East Asian, and environmental politics. She has authored two books, Building Democracy in Japan and Politics and Volunteering in Japan: A Global Perspective, and co-edited a third, NIMBY is Beautiful: Local Activism and Environmental Innovation in Germany and Beyond. She is currently working on a book about effective advocacy and East Asian environmental politics.

Professor Higgins teaches courses in film history, theory, and genre, and is a 2011 recipient of Wesleyan’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching.  His research interests include moving-image aesthetics, feature and serial storytelling, and cinema’s technological history. He is author of Harnessing the Rainbow: Technicolor Aesthetics in the 1930s and Matinee Melodrama: Playing with Formula in the Sound Serial (forthcoming), and editor of Arnheim for Film and Media Studies.

Professor Kottos offers courses on Quantum Mechanics; Condensed Matter Physics; and Advanced Topics in Theoretical Physics. He has published more than 100 papers on the understanding of wave propagation in complex media, which have received more than 3,000 citations. His current research focuses on the development of non-Hermitian Optics. This year, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research has recognized his theoretical proposal on optical limiters as a high priority strategic goal of the agency.

Professor Moran teaches introductory courses such as Descriptive Astronomy and The Dark Side of the Universe, in addition to courses on observational and extragalactic astronomy.  His research focuses on extragalactic X-ray sources and the X-ray background, and his expertise in spectroscopic instrumentation combined with an insightful conceptual appreciation of galaxy formation have positioned him as a leader in observational black hole research.

Professor Royer offers courses on Environmental Studies; Geobiology; and Soils.  His research explores how plants can be used to reconstruct ancient environments, and the (paleo-) physiological underpinnings behind these plant-environment relationships.  His recent work on the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and climate over geologic time has had significant impact on the field of paleoclimatology.

Professor Rubenstein teaches courses in philosophy of religion; pre- and postmodern theologies; and the intersections of religion, sex, gender, and science.  Her research interests include continental philosophy, theology, gender and sexuality studies, and the history and philosophy of cosmology.  She is the author of Strange Wonder: The Closure of Metaphysics and the Opening of Awe, and Worlds without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse.

Professor Ulysse offers courses on Crafting Ethnography; Haiti: Between Anthropology and Journalism; Key Issues in Black Feminism; and Theory 2: Beyond Me, Me, Me: Reflexive Anthropology. Her research examines black diasporic conditions. Her recent work combines scholarship, performance, and exposition to ponder the fate of Haiti in the modern world and how it is narrated in different outlets and genres.  She is the author of Downtown Ladies: Informal Commercial Importers, A Haitian Anthropologist and Self-Making in Jamaica, and Why Haiti Needs New Narratives.

Environmental Studies Class Presents Artist’s Books, Projects

Students enrolled in the Introduction to Environmental Studies course presented their artist’s books, children’s stories, documentaries and story maps during the class’s annual Project Showcase on May 14 in Exley Science Center. The class is taught by Kim Diver, visiting assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences. Suzy Taraba, director of Wesleyan’s Special Collections and Archives attended the event and spoke to the students about artist books.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Aviva Hirsch)

cls_sci_2015-0518160325

Thomas Authors 4 Papers on Environmental Change

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas, research professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the co-author of four recenty-published papers. They include:

Deep-sea benthic foraminiferal turnover during the early middle Eocene transition at Walvis Ridge (SE Atlantic),” published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Issue 417: pages 126-136, January 2015. The paper’s co-author, Silvia Ortiz, was a PhD student at the University of Zaragoza, and spent several months at Wesleyan working with Thomas.

Students, Faculty, Alumni Attend Planetary Science Conference in Texas

Students, faculty and alumni involved in planetary science attended the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference March 16-20 in Houston, Texas.

Jim Greenwood, assistant professor earth and environmental sciences, gave a talk titled “urCl-KREEP? Cl-rich glasses in KREEP basalts 15382 and 15386 and their implications for lunar geochemistry.” Martha Gilmore, chair and professor of earth and environmental sciences and the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, met with the Venus Exploration Analysis Group as a member of its Executive Committee.

Jack Singer ’15 and Lisa Korn MA ’15 presented posters.

Several Wesleyan alumni also made presentations at the conference including James Dottin ’13 (E&ES), now a PhD student at the University of Maryland; Tanya Harrison MA ’08 (E&ES), now a PhD student at the University of Western Ontario; Ann Ollila MA ’08 (E&ES), now at Chevron; Nina Lanza MA ’06 (E&ES), now a scientist at Los Alamos National Lab; Bob Nelson MA ’69 (astronomy), senior scientist at Planetary Science Institute; Ian Garrick-Bethell ’02 (physics), assistant professor at the University of California – Santa Cruz.

Jack Singer ’15 presented a poster titled "High fluorine and chlorine in a chromite-hosted melt inclusion from Apollo 12 olivine basalt 12035.” He was supported by NASA Connecticut Space Grant and is the McKenna Scholar in E&ES. Jim Greenwood is his advisor.

Jack Singer ’15 presented a poster titled “High fluorine and chlorine in a chromite-hosted melt inclusion from Apollo 12 olivine basalt 12035.” He was supported by NASA Connecticut Space Grant and is the McKenna Scholar in E&ES. Singer’s advisor is Jim Greenwood, assistant professor earth and environmental sciences.

Lisa Korn, MA ’15 presented a poster titled "Possible Carbonate Minerals within an Unnamed Gulled Crater in Eridania Basin, Mars.”  She was supported by NASA Connecticut Space Grant and the E&ES Foye Fund. Scott Murchie, the Principal Investigator of the instrument whose data she uses (the CRISM spectrometer in orbit at Mars) showed her work to NASA as an example of the important new discoveries being made with the instrument. Korn's advisor is Marty Gilmore, chair and professor of earth and environmental sciences and the George I. Seney Professor of Geology.

Lisa Korn MA ’15 presented a poster titled “Possible Carbonate Minerals within an Unnamed Gullied Crater in Eridania Basin, Mars.” She was supported by NASA Connecticut Space Grant and the E&ES Foye Fund. Scott Murchie, the Principal Investigator of the instrument whose data she uses (the CRISM spectrometer in orbit at Mars) showed her work to NASA as an example of the important new discoveries being made with the instrument. Korn’s advisor is Martha Gilmore, chair and professor of earth and environmental sciences and the George I. Seney Professor of Geology.

E&ES major  James Dottin ’13 met Marty Gilmore at the conference.

E&ES major James Dottin ’13 met Martha Gilmore at the conference.

Varekamp Elected Chair of Geology, Public Policy Committee

Joop Varekamp

Joop Varekamp

Johan “Joop” Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, professor of earth and environmental sciences, was elected to be chair of the Geology and Public Policy Committee (GPPC) of the Geological Society of America (GSA). The group prepares position statements for GSA (e.g., on fracking, climate change). Varekamp has already made six congressional visits in March, visiting the offices of Senators Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey and Representative Rosa DeLauro. He does similar work as chairman of the board of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment / Save the Sound.

Varekamp also was elected to be the chair of the LimnoGeology (‘lakes’) division of GSA for the next two years, which involves organizing conferences and sessions at annual GSA meetings, and editing special volumes on lakes.

In addition, Varekamp received funding through the Keck Geology Consortium for a research project on the two crater lakes of Newberry volcano in Oregon. Varekamp will visit the lakes this summer with a group of student researchers from Wesleyan, Amherst, Colgate and Smith College.

Resor, Seixas ’10 Co-Author Paper on Structural Mapping of Hualapai Limestone

Phil Resor, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Gus Seixas ’10 are co-authors of “Constraints on the evolution of vertical deformation and Colorado River incision near eastern Lake Mead, Arizona, provided by quantitative structural mapping of the Hualapai Limestone,” published in the February 2015 issue of Geosphere, Vol. 11, pages 31-49. The paper includes research from Seixas’s honors thesis at Wesleyan.

In this study, the authors quantify the structural geometry of Hualapai Limestone, which was deposited in a series of basins that lie in the path of the Colorado River. The limestone was deformed by by a fault pair known as the Wheeler and Lost Basin Range faults.

Students Travel to Puerto Rico to Develop Research Skills

The group photo of the earth and environmental science team.  The group travelled to Puerto Rico in January to develop their research skills.

Twenty-one students, two faculty and one guest traveled to Puerto Rico in January. Students honed their research skills while on the chain of islands.

This semester, 21 senior earth and environmental science majors in the Senior Field Research Project (EES 398) course traveled to Puerto Rico to develop their research, data collection, analytical and presentation skills.

Students gathered samples in a bat cave while wading through inches of bat guano.

Students gathered samples in a bat cave while wading through inches of bat guano.

As part of the EES Department’s capstone course sequence, students are required to participate in a series of student-designed research projects. From Jan. 12-19, students performed independent research in the field.

“The overarching spirit is to have students participate in the full arc of a research project: from the design all the way to the presentation of the results,” said Dana Royer, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, associate professor of environmental studies. Royer has co-taught the class three times, this year with Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, faculty director of the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program.

Resor Explores Connecticut’s Geological History

Phillip Resor at Connecticut's "Lake Char" fault zone. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Skahill/WNPR).

Phillip Resor at Connecticut’s “Lake Char” fault zone. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Skahill/WNPR).

Phillip Resor, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, was recently interviewed on WNPR about an amazing part of Connecticut’s geological history. According to the story, several hundred million years ago, Connecticut was in the middle of a massive continental collision, which formed the super continent Pangea and pushed up huge mountains. Deep beneath the earth, a borderland beneath the two continents formed. Today, geologists call it the Lake Char fault system; it runs along the I-395 corridor in southeastern Connecticut.

Resor took WNPR reporter Patrick Skahill to East Haddam by Gillette Castle to walk along the banks of the Connecticut River, and showed him fine black patterns flowing through the hardened cliff which showed evidence of ancient earthquakes.

“That super-fine grain material actually is what we call ‘pseudotachylite.’ It was a melt — a frictional melt in the fault,” Resor said. “If you think about rubbing your hands together, you’ll get heat, right? So if you rub fast enough, you’ll raise the temperature to the point where you can actually melt the rock.”

Resor explained that as Pangea broke apart about 200 million years ago, the Atlantic Ocean began to open up. A little piece of that ancient continent called “Gondwana” had broken off and was left behind, stuck to Connecticut. Geologists call this zone “Avalonia.”

Read more and see pictures of Resor and the area he studies here.

Thomas Uses CT Scans, Computer-Aided Visualizations to Study and Teach Microfossils

Ellen Thomas, research professor of earth and environmental science, holds two samples of microfossils that were printed on a 3-D printer at the American Museum of Natural History. The printed fossil models are about 8,000 times bigger than the actual limestone fossils.  Ellen Thomas holds two planktonic forms which lived closer to the surface of the water. At left is Hantkenina alabamensis, which lived when the world was warm, and went extinct at the time of formation of the Antarctic ice cap about 33.7 million years ago. At right is Globigerinella siphonifera. It lives in the subtropics today, in open ocean. "When it's alive, it has spines and protoplasm inside and along the spines," she said.

Ellen Thomas, research professor of earth and environmental science, holds two samples of microfossils that were printed on a 3-D printer at the University of Iowa. The printed fossil models are about 8,000 times bigger than the actual limestone fossils. These planktonic forms lived closer to the surface of the water. At left is Hantkenina alabamensis, which lived when the world was warm, and went extinct at the time of formation of the Antarctic ice cap about 33.7 million years ago. At right is Globigerinella siphonifera. It lives in the subtropics today, in open ocean. “When it’s alive, it has spines and protoplasm inside and along the spines,” she said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

This slide contains 65 different microfossil specimens taken from an ocean drilling site in the eastern Indian Ocean. Some are estimated to be 55.8 millions years old and span a duration of 170,000 years. During this time, there was an extinction of deep-sea benthic foraminifera which may have been caused by rapid global warming.

This slide contains more than 300 microfossil specimens from an ocean drilling site in the eastern Indian Ocean. These are estimated to be 55.8 millions years old, and lived during a period of extreme global warming with a duration of 170,000 years. At the beginning of this warm period, there was a mass extinction of deep-sea benthic foraminifera, which may have been caused by the rapid global warming and ocean acidification.

#THISISWHY

Research Professor Ellen Thomas grasps a glass-enclosed sample of hundreds of microfossils, each a white fleck of limestone barely visible to the human eye.

“The first time students look at these they say, ‘they all look the same to me,’ but in reality, they are all have very different shapes,” Thomas says. “Even under a microscope, it can be difficult for a new eye to see the differences, but each species has its own shape; some have a much more open, light structure because they lived floating in the oceans close to the surface. Others have denser shells and lived on the bottom of the ocean, or within the mud. And each one can tell us, in its chemical make up, what the environmental conditions were like at the time that they lived and built their shells.”

By studying and analyzing microfossils, Thomas and fellow scientists are able to explore aspects of climate change on a variety of timescales,