Department News

EPS | The 2022-2023 Graduate Admissions Application is now open!

Learn more about how to apply to the Graduate Program in Earth and Planetary Sciences.


Dawn Sumner photo portrait

Dawn Sumner | Astrobiology in the Field, Episode 2: Greenland

From NASA Astrobiology: "This expedition is the second installment of the NASA Astrobiology video documentary series Astrobiology in the Field. This series aims to showcase the amazing analogue environments and the interesting field work being conducted all over the world by NASA scientists; work that directly informs NASA missions to discover extraterrestrial life in the Universe." Dawn Sumner is a member of a team of astrobiologists, led by Dr. Abigail Allwood from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who travel into the wilderness of Greenland to investigate claims of biosignatures in 3.7 billion year old rocks.

Kari Cooper photo portrait

Kari Cooper | Putting Science Into Practice: Preparing for Volcanic Eruptions

From UC Davis Letters and Science: "Coordinating the emergency response to an erupting volcano is an all-hands-on-deck affair that leaves little time for extra work, such as answering boatloads of inquiries from researchers who want to collect rock samples. On the other hand, science done during eruptions provides essential data for understanding and forecasting future volcanic flare-ups. To help balance these interests, scientists like Kari Cooper, professor of earth and planetary sciences at UC Davis, are exploring how to prioritize public safety while maximizing the limited time and access for collecting data and samples."

Qing-zhu Yin photo portrait

Qing-zhu Yin | Dwarf Planet Vesta Is a Window to the Early Solar System

Qing-Zhu Yin is a study co-author. From the Egghead blog: The dwarf planet Vesta is helping scientists better understand the earliest era in the formation of our solar system. Two recent papers involving UC Davis scientists use data from meteorites derived from Vesta to resolve the "missing mantle problem" and push back our knowledge of the solar system to just a couple of million years after it began to form. The papers were published in Nature Communications Sept. 14 and Nature Astronomy Sept. 30.

Magali Billen photo portrait

Magali Billen | Deepest earthquake ever detected struck 467 miles beneath Japan

Magali Billen comments on the deepest earthquake ever detected, described recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. From National Geographic: "One spring evening six years ago, hundreds of miles underground, our planet began to rumble from a series of peculiar earthquakes. Most of Earth's temblors strike within a few dozen miles of the surface, but these quakes stirred at depths where temperatures and pressures grow so intense that rocks tend to bend rather than break."

Rob Zierenberg photo portrait

Robert Zierenberg | Interdisciplinary Investigation of the Pescadero Basin

Robert Zierenberg is part of the team of interdisciplinary researchers and engineers aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute's R/V Falkor. From the Schmidt Ocean Institute: "The Auka Vent field is a series of hydrothermal vents located in Pescadero Basin, one of several small ocean basins in the tectonically active Gulf of California (GOC)...They plan to map the neighboring Carmen and Farallon Basins, characterize heat flow in the Pescadero Basin, and examine hydrothermal vent microbiology and ecology in the Auka and JaichMaa ’ja’ag fields in order to further our understanding of these recently discovered hydrothermal systems." ROV Dive videos | Surreal Deep Sea Discoveries Include Glitter Worms and Upside-Down Lakes

Dawn Sumner photo portrait

Dawn Sumner | Feminist Research Institute

From FRI: "The Feminist Research Institute is pleased to introduce Professor Dawn Sumner and Professor Colleen Clancy as interim co-directors of FRI. 'We are proud and excited that Dawn and Colleen have agreed to further support FRI by serving as interim co-directors during the 2021-2022 academic year,” said Associate Director Sarah McCullough. 'Their commitment to values-based research and teaching have inspired us and others, and we feel confident that they will contribute to our research, research development and training initiatives.'"

Isabel Montañez photo portrait

Isabel Montañez | The Climate Archive of Caves

From UC Davis Unfold Podcast: ‘Nature Tells Its Story, Part 2’. "California boasts hundreds of caves, many of them hidden in the Sierra Nevada foothills. These caves hold much more than beautiful icicle-like stalactites and stalagmites. Trapped inside the stalagmites are tiny droplets of fossilized precipitation from climates long ago. In “Nature Tells Its Story, Part 2” of Unfold, UC Davis researchers discuss how these water droplets provide a “climate archive” that may help us predict future shifts in rain, snow and drought." In this episode: Isabel Montañez, distinguished professor, UC Davis Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Barbara Wortham, doctoral student, UC Davis Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Isabel Montañez photo portrait

Isabel Montañez | National Academy of Sciences, 2021 Member

Isabel Montañez has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Her work has informed a better understanding of Earth’s ocean, land and atmospheric records of the past half billion years and suggests what the ancient carbon dioxide record may mean for future climate change. The National Academy of Sciences was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and—with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine—provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

Dean Estella Atekwana. (Courtesy of University of Delaware)

Estella Atekwana | Reginald Fessenden Award

Letters and Science Dean Estella Atekwana has been awarded the Reginald Fessenden Award by The Society of Exploration Geophysicists. This honor is awarded to those who have made a specific technical contribution to exploration geophysics, such as an invention or a theoretical or conceptual advancement that merits special recognition. Estella is the pioneer in bio-geophysics, essentially having defined the field. This exciting new field addresses changes in acoustic, magnetic, and electrical properties due to microbial growth and biofilm formation in porous media.

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