Department News

Henry Rutgers Scholar Award

Lucia Bellino pic Lucia Bellino martian pic


Our graduating senior Lucia Bellino has just been chosen by SAS to receive the Henry Rutgers Scholar Award! According to the School of Arts and Sciences Scholarship Office,

"The Henry Rutgers Scholar Award recognizes graduating seniors who have completed outstanding independent research projects leading to an interdepartmental thesis or a thesis in their major field of study.  Every year, professors are invited to nominate students who have done exceptionally strong work in their discipline that highlights the originality of the research and conclusions along with exhibiting evidence of superior critical reasoning and scholarly achievement.  The awards are offered across all departments of the School of Arts and Sciences, and so represent only the very finest achievements of our students”.

We have all heard Lucia’s presentation on her honors thesis research on Martian minerals under Prof Ojha, titled “"Presence of Hydrothermal Mineral Alteration in the Eridania Basin on Mars: Implications for Serpentinization, Magnetization, and Habitability.” The breath of her knowledge and the clarity of her thinking deserve nothing less.  Congratulations Lucia!  We are very proud of you!

Professor Gross is awarded Antarctica Service Medal

Professor Gross Medal

Professor Juliane Gross has been awarded the Antarctic Service Medal by the US Government for her COURAGE, SACRIFICE, and DEVOTION to search for meteorite fragments at the South Pole. Dr. Gross spent over a month at Antarctica searching for these extraterrestrial rocks during 2017-2018. She currently is on leave at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX serving as assistant curator of the Apollo Moon rock collections. You can read more about the Antarctica Service Medal here.

Dr. Bermingham Awarded National Science Foundation Grant

K Berm v1Congratulations to Dr. Katherine Bermingham, Assistant Professor of Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University who has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to study “The Scope and Significance of Tungsten Isotope Variations: Implications for Mantle Evolution”. She is the PI of a research team that comprises researchers from the National Museum of Natural History (Dr. Jon Tucker), Smithsonian Institute, the University of California San Diego (Dr. Tim Jones), and the University of Maryland (Dr. Val Finlayson). Dr. Linda Godfrey, Assistant Research Professor at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University is also part of the team. Their project will use new tungsten isotopic compositions of mantle-derived materials to advance a more robust model of the silicate Earth’s tungsten isotopic composition. These new data will advance our understanding of how tungsten isotopic heterogeneity originated in the mantle, having broad implications for our understanding the dynamic evolution of our planet. Congratulations to Dr. Bermingham, Dr. Godfrey, and the team. Much success with the project!

Caio Mattos Receives National Geographic Early Career Grant

caiofield4Our PhD student Caio Mattos has been awarded a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EARLY CAREER GRANT to support his continued field work in the Amazon and Cerrado ecosystems in eastern Brazil. Caio’s research focuses on understanding how water in the soil and rocks affect the distribution and functioning of vegetation in different biomes. Congratulations Caio! To learn more about Nat Geo Early Career Grants click here

Prof. Ken Miller joins JOIDES Facility Board

Falko sqThe chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Greg Mountain, announced that Ken Miller (pictured) will join the JOIDES Facility Board the. IODP Facility Boards comprise a mix of scientists and representatives of national agencies that fund the IODP. They determine the effective use of drilling facilities in fulfilling the objectives of the IODP Science Plan. There are 3 Boards in all, governing operations of the JOIDES Resolution (this is the JRFB’s job), the Chikyu and ‘mission specific’ platforms. Each Board receives evaluations of IODP advisory panels about the science, sites, environmental protection and safety concerns of proposed expeditions and sets the expedition schedule at annual meetings. Ken will be 1 of the mandated 3 US scientists on the JRFB. Sea-going ops are currently ‘paused’ but you can be sure Ken will be deeply engaged getting the JR back out to sea asap. When that time comes his new responsibilities will become an especially demanding and important contribution to the continued exploration of the watery part of our planet.

Dr. Paul Falkowski's work on the evolution of cellular metabolism

Falko sqDr. Paul Falkowski and his Rutgers colleagues have discovered two protein folds important for understanding the evolution of cellular metabolism. Evidence suggests that the processes responsible for facilitating the biological redox reactions shared by members of the "tree of life" may have first appeared billions of years ago during the Archean Eon. Falkowski's team provide clues to not only the ways these ancients cells may have operated, but also the origins of life itself. click here for paper

EPS welcomes our newest faculty member Dr. Katherine Bermingham!

K BermKatherine joins us from the University of Maryland after spending 2 years there as a Research Scientist and prior to that, 6 years as a postdoc in the Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory group. From 2008-2011, Katherine was a Marie Curie Early Stage Research Fellow during which she received her Ph.D. in Natural Sciences (Cosmochemistry) from the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster in Germany. Katherine received her Bachelor of Science (with Honors) from the Australian National University in Australia.

Read more: EPS welcomes our newest faculty member Dr. Katherine Bermingham!

Ashley receives GSA awards

Ashley rock slideThe Geological Society of America has announced that our Emeritus Professor Gail Ashley is the 2020 recipient of the Rip Rapp Geoarchaeology Division Award as well as the Limnogeology Division Israel C. Russell Award. These awards are given annually for excellence in research, teaching, and service. In addition to Gail's numerous scientific achievements, the announcements recognized her commitment to integrity and ethical standards.
Read more about each award.

Undergraduate Joyce Franco awarded scholarship

Joyce Franco v1Joyce Franco, graduating senior in the department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, was one of nine awardees of the Angelo Tagliacozzo Memorial Geological Scholarship ( awarded by the Northeastern Section of the American Institute of Professional Geologists. The region includes NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, VT, NH and ME. Worth $1500, the scholarship is designed to "offer financial support to current junior and senior undergraduate geology students and to encourage serious and deserving students to continue their studies in the geological sciences". Accompanying image shows Joyce during fieldwork in Costa Rica where she worked on precise earthquake location in the framework of the GREAT project (

Dr. Bermingham opines about Earth's formation in NATURE

ImageWriting in Nature's News and Views, Assistant Professor Dr. Katherine Bermingham—an authority on cosmo- and geo-chemistry—comments on how the isotopic composition of very ancient rocks from Greenland help understand the building blocks of Earth. Particularly interesting is the origin of volatile compounds like water and organics, which could have arrived by carbonaceous chondrite (meteorite) collisions during the final stages of our planet's growth billions of years ago. click here for paper