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Four researchers studying aspects of Earth and space science were awarded a 2017 Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering. The fellowship, awarded to 18 early-career scientists, includes a 5-year, unrestricted research grant of $875,000. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation announced the fellowship recipients on 16 October.

Konstantin Batygin, assistant professor of planetary science at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, won the fellowship for his work revealing the mysteries of the Kuiper Belt, a region beyond the orbit of Neptune that’s scattered with small, icy debris. Batygin’s research provided evidence that an undiscovered Neptune-sized planet may lurk in the outskirts of the solar system, and he plans to use the fellowship funds to computationally narrow down the planet’s location and observe it with telescopes.

Marine A. Denolle, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., received the fellowship for her work exploring the amplification of seismic energy and ground shaking in developing urban areas. With the research grant, Denolle aims to quantify how environmental and groundwater changes in these areas are influencing regional seismic hazard and develop better predictive models of seismic hazard in urban areas.

Magdalena Osburn, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., won the fellowship for her studies of microbes that live deep underground. She plans to use funds to research microbes whose DNA sequences are known but that have yet to be grown in the lab. Osburn hopes to replicate the microbes’ natural conditions in the lab, cultivate them, and explore their role in shaping Earth.

Laurence Yeung, assistant professor of Earth science at Rice University in Houston, Texas, received the fellowship for his isotope geochemistry research developing new tracers for Earth system cycles, such as atmospheric circulation, biosphere productivity, and nutrient cycling. With the fellowship, Yeung aims to improve empirical constraints on these natural processes and better understand how atmospheres, biospheres, and geospheres interact over short and long timescales.

Other Accolades

Susan Trumbore, a biogeochemist at the University of California, Irvine, and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, was awarded the 2018 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Science for her pioneering climate change work. Trumbore measures carbon levels in plants and soil to better understand the flow of carbon between the biosphere and the atmosphere. She is a past president of the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Biogeochemistry section, a Fellow of AGU and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the current editor in chief of Global Biogeochemical Cycles. The Franklin Institute announced its Awards Class of 2018, which includes Trumbore and seven other scientists and engineers, on 7 November and will honor them in a ceremony to be held on 19 April 2018 in Philadelphia, Pa.

Anne Egger, assistant professor of geological sciences and science education and director of undergraduate research at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash., was selected by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) as the next editor in chief of the Journal of Geoscience Education. Egger has previously served as the president of NAGT and chair of the NAGT Professional Development Planning Committee. She has spent her career working to improve Earth science literacy and education, develop teaching materials for Earth science educators, and emphasize the process of science in her teaching. NAGT announced the appointment on 2 October, and Egger will begin her responsibilities as editor in chief in January 2018.

Prince Albert II of Monaco received the 2017 Stroud Award for Freshwater Excellence on 17 September. The award recognizes Prince Albert’s commitment to conserving and protecting freshwater resources through the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which focuses on preserving biodiversity, limiting the effects of climate change, promoting renewable energies, and managing water resources to combat desertification. The Stroud Water Research Center presented the award to Prince Albert at its 50th anniversary gala in Winterthur, Del.

Correction, 21 November 2017: The academic title of one of the honorees mentioned in this article has been corrected.


(2017), Honoring Earth and space scientists, Eos, 98, Published on 10 November 2017.

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