Stanford School Of Earth Science - Earth Matters
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Dean's Letter

Dean Pam Matson at podium  
"Awesome Jobs" on Earth
Dear Alumni, Colleagues and Friends,
 
I just read a terrific column titled Awesome Jobs on a website produced by the creators of Mythbusters featuring our own Kevin Arrigo and his research in the polar extremes. The column focuses on field scientists who “put their boots on the ground and get down and dirty in dangerous environments,” which in Kevin’s case is actually putting boots on ice in the Arctic and Antarctic.
 
The article caused me to think about my own job, and those of our faculty in the School of Earth Sciences.  Why would professors here consider our work to be awesome? What are the criteria we would use to decide that? A few thoughts follow.
  • As scientists and engineers, we want to pursue the unknown, whether working in the field, developing sophisticated and computationally intensive models, making cutting edge physical, chemical, and biological measurements in the lab, or a combination of all three.
  • We want to be surrounded by great people with great ideas…faculty colleagues and students who inspire us and make us think.
  • We want to answer questions that matter.
  • We want to develop and apply advanced tools and technologies.
  • We want to make sure that the quest to solve problems continues, by training our students to be the best possible future leaders.
By these criteria our faculty are clearly doing awesome work, and you need look no further than this issue of Earth Matters for examples. The articles cover a broad range of topics, from the progress we are making in understanding our changing Earth, to addressing critical 21st century challenges in the areas of energy, food, water, climate change and hazards such as earthquakes. In pursuing our research, we use advanced technologies to see, hear and learn about the planet, including stunning radar images and the sounds of screaming volcanoes that are available in a feature called Sensory Earth. We continue to attract great new faculty, including geophysicist Jenny Suckale, who is profiled in this issue, as well as top students from all over the world.  And our teaching programs, such as the Wrigley Field Program in Hawaii, will make you want to come back to school!
 
In our research and teaching, our faculty are mindful of the awesome responsibility to use our time, talent and resources to advance knowledge, meet pressing needs and educate the next generation of leaders. With the entire Earth as our domain, I can’t imagine anything more important, exciting and challenging.  And that, to me, is pretty awesome.
 
I hope you enjoy this first anniversary issue of Earth Matters. As always, let us know your ideas and suggestions. And don’t miss the current issue of Stanford magazine for several stories about our faculty and students, including the cover story, Extreme Science
 
Best,


Pamela A. Matson
Chester Naramore Dean
Stanford School of Earth Sciences

News & Discoveries

 
Sensory Earth tells multimedia stories about how geoscientists use advanced technologies in creative ways to improve our sensory perceptions.  From stunning radar images to sounds of screaming volcanoes, we learn more about the planet when more of our senses are engaged. Read more and listen...
 
"If you want to understand how the world works, you have to get out into it."  That's how the editors of Stanford magazine introduce articles about the challenges and charms of Earth Sciences research in three remote locations.  The articles appear in the November/December issue. Read more... 
 
 
The extreme atmospheric conditions associated with California’s crippling drought are far more likely to occur under today’s global warming conditions than in the climate that existed before humans emitted large amounts of greenhouse gases, according to a study from Noah Diffenbaugh's research group. Read more...
Fracking well  
The key to extracting more gas and oil through fracking is to reduce the environmental costs as much as possible while making the most of the environmental benefits, according to a study led by Rob Jackson.  The research highlights policies and practices that could optimize fracking's environmental cost-benefit balance and calls for further research. Read more...
 
Greg Beroza hiked to a tranquil redwood forest where he explained the origin and impact of a devastating 6.9 earthquake that occurred on October 17, 1989. Back on campus, Beroza, Eric Dunham and Simon Klemperer explained their leading edge seismology research. Read more and view videos...
Rock face  
A new way of determining the hydrogen content in mantle rocks could lead to improved estimates of Earth's interior water and a better understanding of the planet's early evolution, according to research by Jessica Warren and colleagues. Read more...
 
 

Along California's Monterey Coast, a team led by Rosemary Knight is using surface technology developed for oil exploration to help determine the extent to which saltwater intrudes into underground aquifers. Results are expected in February.  Climate Wire reported on the research.   Read more...

 

Roz Naylor next to podium  
All countries, including wealthy nations like the the United States, struggle with problems of food availability, access and nutrition.  Roz Naylor addressed these issues in a recent lecture on the challenge of alleviating global hunger. Read more and view video...
 
In the Stanford 2014 Roundtable, climate scientists, innovators and political figures discussed how to encourage citizens to help force the issues that are needed to help combat climate change.  Chris Field was a member of the panel, which was moderated by 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl. Read more and view the video...

Faculty News & Honors

 
Jenny Suckale is endlessly fascinated by the Navier-Stokes equation, which she uses to study everything from volcanic eruptions to Antarctic ice flow. The story of how Suckale came to discover and love the Earth Sciences is as nonlinear as some of the natural phenomena she studies. Read more...
 
A pioneer in the analysis of global land use change, Eric Lambin will receive the prestigious Volvo Environmental Prize for 2014 in late November. Lambin uses advanced data collection and satellite imagery to understand human decision making and its influence on ecosystems and global environmental change. Read more...
 
Kevin Boyce and David Lobell sitting on a bench  
One year after receiving MacArthur fellowships, Kevin Boyce and David Lobell appreciate the intangibles of the award: a confidence in the creative approach to scientific research and the risk taking mentality that attracted the attention of the MacArthur Foundation to them. Read more...
 
 
Kevin Arrigo travels pole to pole to study phytoplankton, some of the tiniest organisms on the planet, to understand their relationship to climate change. The Awesome Job column on the Tested.com website features Kevin and his leading edge research. Read more...
 
Kudos for Eric Dunham and top Earth Sci teachers
When you invest the time and effort to administer one-on-one oral midterms in a geophysics class and your students respond with rave reviews, you must be doing something right. That's one reason Eric Dunham was named the 2014 top teacher in Earth Sciences. A larger cohort was also recognized for teaching contributions over time. 
 

Student News

 
From the strongest wind system on Earth to the corals of the tropical Pacific, Earth Systems sophomores Mary Cirino and Emma Hutchinson researched Earth's climate as part of the Earth Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research program. Each worked with Miles Traer to produce engaging videos explaining their projects. Read more and view videos...
 
Students in the Wrigley Field Program spend Fall quarter in Hawaii studying vegetation, coral reefs and volcanoes, while engaged with native people and the rich Hawaiian culture. It's hard to imagine a more perfect natural laboratory for the rigorous interdisciplinary program.  Read more and view videos... 
 
From as far away as Iceland, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, China and Brazil, and from as nearby as our own campus and that big state university across San Francisco Bay, 74 new students are on the path to Master's and PhD degrees at Stanford Earth Sciences. Read more...

Postdoc News

Alumni News & Class Notes

 
In the midst of a jam-packed homecoming week this year, Earth Sciences alumni congregated on the patio of the Mitchell Building to reminisce about the past and hear plans for the School’s future. Graduates including Erin Craig ('84, BS, Geophysics), the CEO of Origins Climate, a company that supports renewable energy and emission reduction projects, updated us on what they're up to now and shared some favorite memories. Read more...
 
A call for class notes
The School of Earth Sciences would love to hear from our alumni! Please watch for an email request inviting you to send updates such as where you live and where you work.  An aggregate list of class notes will be published in the Spring 2015 edition of Earth Matters. In the meantime, graduate degree recipients are welcome to submit class notes to Stanford magazine.
 

Upcoming Events

Please visit earth.stanford.edu/events for a comprehensive list of on-campus events including seminars and lectures.

Conference or Stanford Reunion registration is not required to attend alumni receptions.