Inside EAPS, Fall 2018

Page 1

Volume 5, Issue 2 | Fall 2018

INSIDE EAPS Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University

FROM THE HEAD Making an impact in the geosciences requires approaching science in new and innovative ways, not just doing what we’ve always done. In this issue of Inside EAPS, we show you ways that we are doing just that. For example, EAPS faculty have joined in a partnership between Purdue the Universidad Nacional de San Agustin in Peru to engage in environmental research to help local communities in Peru. Back on campus, we built collaborations to purchase a new radar, providing more accurate tools for our atmospheric scientists. You will read these and other stories highlighting new directions in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. In partnerships on campus as well as abroad, EAPS is dedicating to seeking out creative ways to do science. We’re excited to bring you more examples of this with each issue, and look forward to the impacts on the Earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences these innovations will bring.

Darryl Granger Darryl Granger Professor and Interim Head


Purdue University Photo

Misc. Photos Provided By Dr. Timothy Filley, Dr. Matthew Huber, Logan Judy, Will Odom, John O’Malley, Dr. Doug Schmitt Cover photo provided by Dr. Timothy Filley

To submit materials for Inside EAPS, send them via email to: Logan Judy EAPS Communications Specialist


Photo provided by Dr. Timothy Filley


A partnership between Purdue and a Peruvian university is making strides in sustainability and environmental science.




A new radar was recently installed on campus.


5 New Faculty Member: Dr. Doug Schmitt


EAPS welcomes a new faculty member: Dr. Doug Schmitt.



17 Events

EAPS Faculty Receive AGU Honors


Two EAPS faculty received honors from the American Geophysical Union, including an AGU Fellow.

Graduate Student Feature: Will Odom Alumni Updates

EAPS Communicator and Author

EAPS Communications Specialist Logan Judy has a secret he’d love to spill - he moonlights as an author.

Alumnus Highlight: David Leary


NEWS BRIEFS EXPECT TO SEE MORE SINKHOLES IN INDIANAPOLIS’ FUTURE, GEOLOGY EXPERT SAYS Traffic troubles may be the least of Indianapolis’ worries after the collapse of a 100-year-old sewer pipeline opened up a big sinkhole Downtown. With thousands of miles of old, deteriorating sewer lines throughout Marion County, experts say more such sinkholes are likely to come.


Photo Credit: NASA

Alex Trowbridge is no stranger to the fascinating field of geology. Growing up surrounded by the mountainous terrain of Colorado, Trowbridge majored in physics with an emphasis on geology at Colorado College. That started a path that would utlimately lead to applications in planetary science.

RECONSTRUCTION OF PAST CLIMATE PROVIDES CLUES ABOUT FUTURE CLIMATE CHANGE Greenhouse gases were the main driver of climate throughout the warmest period of the past 66 million years, providing insight into the drivers behind long-term climate change.

Photo by the International Ocean Discovery Program/JOIDES Resolution Science Operator

MINERALOGY ON MARS POINTS TO COLD AND ICY ANCIENT CLIMATE The climate throughout Mars’ early history has long been denated - was the Red Planet warm and wet, or cold and icy? New EAPS research published in Icarus provides evidence for the latter.

Photo Provided by Sheridan Ackiss


ALUMNUS HIGHLIGHT: DAVID LEARY Where are you from originally and why did you choose Purdue and EAPS? I grew up in South Bend, Ind. and was lucky enough to have had the Regional “Teacher of the Year” for the National Association of Geology Teachers, Mr. Clayton, as a high school sophomore. Mr. Clayton’s class had a tremendous impact on my becoming interested in geology, but choosing Purdue itself was kind of random. I wouldn’t go so far to say that I was completely unsupervised by my parents, but I ended up here mainly because my friends and my brother were attending. Not a lot of planning on my part, but at least I entered Purdue as a Geoscience major!

What was the most valuable thing about your time at EAPS? I think the most valuable thing about my time at EAPS was Field Camp. We grew both as geoscientists and as classmates - and geology became ‘alive’ for me. I just loved the scope and scale of the problems and mapping exercises we were presented.

How is the department different now that it was when you were a student? In the past, the approach of the Department seemed to emphasize fundamentals and help develop a skill ‘spike’ very early on. While the fundamentals and skill spike are still critical at Purdue, there seem to be many more chances to work on wide-ranging, complex problems that demand integration across subdisciplines. Learning how to solve complex problems in an integrated manner is an important skill to develop, as solutions and insights tend to come from the edges of disciplines.

Which faculty members did you interact with the most? At the time, I was a bit of a basement-dweller, doing hard-rock stuff and mineralogy. I was lucky enough to do a senior thesis with Dr. Robert H. McCallister on experimental pyroxenes. I was also hugely impressed by the work of Professor Henry O.A. Meyer on diamonds, and that white Jaguar V-12 roadster he drove. I thought, “A geologist can drive a car like that? That’s the life for me!” My interest in experimental mineralogy led me to Stony Brook for graduate school, where I learned that I actually didn’t like the path I was on. That is okay- a negative data point is still a valid data point. But I just couldn’t envision a job in the end - and so took the painful decision to leave a full-ride scholarship. I subsequently went to University of Texas to study burial diagenesis of carbonates, which led me to Exxon Production Research. The key point here is that ‘Purdue EAPS Fundamentals’ allowed me to recover from the temporary missteps in my early life, and redirect and re-energize my path. The Purdue EAPS degree provided a solid foundation for further work and opened doors for me.


You’ve had a very successful career at ExxonMobil. What would you say is the “secret to your success?” In my early career at Exxon it was all about broadening - building additional skill sets for the job and making sure you were trainable, flexible and a good team player. It’s kind of difficult to imagine, but being well-educated and smart only gets you a seat at the table. Thereafter a host of soft skills are as important as the technical knowledge you acquire as you try to work in a team environment, listen effectively, and communicate your ideas. In mid-career I transitioned into Technical and Supervisory roles, aided by completion of an MBA. I took on more diverse challenges but still was involved in growing my global exploration experience and advising teams on how to approach new areas and conduct risk assessments. Deepwater Guyana is an example of an early success for my New Opportunity Identification Organization. In exploration you not only have to think creatively and propose new ideas, you must also communicate the likelihood of those concepts coming to fruition, and if not, what the failure case will look like. We always ran with multiple working hypotheses, leveraging our global experience while being honest about the limits of our data. Exploration is not about being hopeful and merely painting the high side; it’s about building a strong genetic understanding of how a basin forms, fills, and matures through time. You also have to be honest about risk and volumes, yet remain creative, every step of the way. Being able to recognize the limits of data and your own cognitive bias are as important to an explorationist as they are a scientist. In late career I segued into a role as the ‘Technical Face’ for many of our exploration initiatives with foreign governments and national oil companies. This was quite a lot of fun because of the scope of the challenges, the travel, and the cultural experiences. Most recently I was part of team which helped identify and prioritize global shale gas and tight gas opportunities, leading to company positions in a number of countries, notably Poland and China.

You are an editor with the English version of the journal Acta Geologica Sinica. How did you become involved with that, and what drew you to it? Acta Geological Sinica is the English-language journal on Chinese geology. Because I have conducted or led significant proprietary, or joint-study interactions over my career on Chinese opportunities, it seemed a good thing to do. After having traveled to China 28 times over the past several years I know many of the basins, people, universities, companies and institutes actively conducting research into Chinese geology. It’s a fascinating topic to me and allows me to stay abreast of the latest geologic work in China.

What are the best memories you have at EAPS? The shared deprivations of Field Camp in North Park Basin in Colorado are quite memorable - life in tents for 8 weeks, rationed water, and that food. I really enjoyed interacting with Professors Lewandowski, McCallister, Shieh, Jennings, Braile and Hinze. They revealed the wonder of geology and geophysics, and how to be a good scientist, remaining honest with the data that underpin your analyses. Those lessons have followed throughout my career. Photo provided by Dr. Briony Horgan


NEW EAPS RADAR PROVIDES RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES Sometimes great ideas for research tools come in the process of working on a project. But other times, it’s a simple as a walk on campus. That’s how Dr. Tanamachi first got the idea for a lowpower radar on top of Wang Hall, and on her first day, no less. She had just arrived at Purdue after spending more than a decade working with different weather radars in Oklahoma. “I was just walking into my office and I looked up on top of Wang Hall and Photo Provided by John O’Malley there was a radome, and I said, ‘That looks a lot like an X-band radome,’” Dr. Tanamachi said. “So I immediately went and started knocking on doors and making phone calls and sending emails.” X-band radars, like their larger cousins used by the National Weather Service (the WSR-88D), monitor winds and precipitation in the lower atmosphere. These radars are able to fill in gaps in the coverage from the larger, higherpower radars, providing more detailed views of the local weather. Purdue’s campus is about 70 miles from the nearest National Weather Service radar in Indianapolis and, due to the curvature of the Earth, the radar beam is about one kilometer (roughly 4,000 feet) above the ground. “We’re missing that whole lowest 1.2 kilometers of the atmosphere, which is where people operate and lots of interesting hazardous weather happens,” she said, “including tornadoes and microbursts. Events like these spin up very quickly sometimes and may be missed with these holes in coverage.” Once Dr. Tanamachi confirmed that the radome was empty (it had been previously designed for another project that did not come to fruition), she went to work on a proposal, collaborating with others on campus, including engineering, aviation, and other faculty in EAPS. “We submitted proposals to internal programs at Purdue and EVPRP (Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships) and one to the National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation program that were not successful,” she said. “But then last summer, EVPRP contacted me and said they did have funds available to help us meet the half a million dollar price tag for this radar.” The radar, which was installed in July 2018, will ultimately provide live weather images on a website managed by the Atmospheric Science team. The raw data will be shared with the National Weather Service as well. The data will also eventually be accessible to teachers, students, and other collaborators, providing real-life data for handson education. Support and funding for the radar purchase was provided by the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships, as well as collaborators in EAPS, the College of Science, the College of Engineering, and Purdue Polytechnic Institute.



Photos provided by Will Odom

EAPS Graduate Student Will Odom fits the textbook definition of an active graduate student. He has received multiple department awards and scholarships and served as president of the department’s Graduate Student Association. But if you ask him what most excites him, he might tell you about his research. He was so interested in studying geomorphology, as a matter of fact, that he couldn’t wait until he had a degree to start doing it. “As an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I worked in the Isotope Geochemistry and Geochronology Laboratory,” Odom said. “Then I spent my senior year independently studying geomorphology in the Blue Ridge Mountains.” That passion for research ultimately led him to Purdue and EAPS. The interdisciplinary collaborations in the department, as well as the facilities, were a key factor in his decision. He was especially interested in the PRIME Lab (Purdue Rare Isotope Measurement Laboratory), an internationally recognized facility used by EAPS and the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Odom’s advisor, EAPS Interim Department Head Dr. Darryl Granger, has been heavily involved in the lab for much of his career. Passion as well as facilities connected the two researchers – Odom cites an interest in the mountains in particular in his decision to choose Dr. Granger as his advisor. “I wanted to work with Dr. Granger because of his enthusiasm and expertise in geochronology and the Appalachian Mountains,” he said. “We had the opportunity to design and secure funding for a large-scale research project together soon after I arrived on campus, which was a unique and exciting experience.”


At EAPS, Odom’s research focuses on dating river incision in the southern Appalachian Mountains throughout the Cenozoic Era (from 66 million years ago to the present). His research is hands-on, allowing him to visit not only the Appalachian Mountains, but also exciting landscapes such as Death Valley, Big Bend, and Arches National Parks on field trips with Dr. Ken Ridgway. His research is important, he says, not only for fundamental science but also for investigating past climate. “This is an important study because it will allow us to test hypotheses of recent Appalachian uplift, date the formation of deep weathering products in ancient landscapes, and investigate the influence of climate change on erosional processes.”

about the department’s people and culture.

Outside of research, he continues to be an active member of the department, as his time as President of the EAPS GSA chapter indicates. The group’s activities include public outreach and local conservation, efforts that he says continue to excite him

“During my time as the president of GSA, I was reminded of how motivated and enthusiastic our department’s graduate students are,” he said. “We had a successful year volunteering in local park cleanups and coordinating Earth Science Passport Day at the Imagination Station science center. These events would have not been possible without the hard work of many students, and I look forward to seeing what GSA does in the coming year.” Odom anticipates graduating with his PhD in 2020.


NEW PURDUE-PERUVIAN UNIVERSITY TECHNICAL ALLICANCE LED BY EAPS FACULTY If you were to ask Dr. Timothy Filley what the view looks like from his office window, he might ask you “in which office, in which country.” He, like many professors in EAPS, spends much of his time moving between field sites around the globe and his labs and offices at Purdue. Starting this year, Dr. Filley, four of his fellow EAPS faculty, and upwards of 50 other Purdue faculty, will be spending a lot of time looking out of windows in the Arequipa Region of Peru. Purdue University has launched a strategic partnership with The Universidad Nacional de San Agustin (UNSA) in Arequipa, Peru, called the Arequipa Nexus Institute for Food, Energy, Water, and the Environment (the Nexus). Dr. Filley, who is the Acting Director of Purdue’s Center for the Environment as well as an EAPS professor, is the lead Principle Investigator and Director of the Nexus, along with his counterpart at UNSA, Dr. Henry Polanco. One of the major goals of this multi-year technical alliance program is to help build the research and decisionmaking capacity of UNSA and regional stakeholders to address the challenges that the people of Arequipa face in the sustainable use of their natural resources. Through project co-development, regional stakeholder engagement, and technical training the Nexus will work to create an interdisciplinary research and education ecosystem for convergence approaches to tackle coupled socioenvironmental problems arising soil, water, and air degradation, inequitable access to resources, food insecurity, and more. Photos provided by Dr. Timothy Filley


“In the Arequipa, Peru region there are ongoing concerns that intensive agronomic management, urbanization, and the legacy of resource ore extraction has threatened water and soil quality and food safety,” Dr. Filley said. “This threat is compounded by an urgent concern regarding future glacial water supply due to climate change making holistic watershed management a critical part of future planning in this region.” The research and technical training programs of the Nexus - one of Purdue’s largest international collaborative projects - involves Purdue faculty from 6 colleges and the libraries, and will support up to 23 post doctoral scholars housed in Purdue. Several EAPS faculty, including Drs. Lisa Welp, Greg Michalski, Cliff Johnston, Matthew Huber, Marty Frisbee, Timothy Filley, and Indrajeet Chaubey, as well as EAPS Courtesy Professor Dr. Marc Caffee, will apply their environmental, hydrological, and geochemical expertise to address issues of contamination of water, air, and soil as well as diminishing water supplies. “Many times academic research is done in areas with little input from local communities – but in the Nexus stakeholder engagement, particularly understanding indigenous community perspectives, is a major emphasis ,” said Dr. Lisa


Welp, one of the EAPS faculty involved in the project. “In the Nexus, we are really trying to answer scientific questions with direct impact on livelihoods in this region. The close collaborations we are also forming with our researcher partners at UNSA will result in better and more impactful science.” One of the exciting aspects of the Nexus is the creation of the UNSA Stable Isotope Facility - a sister laboratory to the Purdue Stable Isotope (PSI) laboratory co-managed by Drs. Filley, Michalski, and Welp – which will be housed at UNSA. The PSI lab and staff will help train and establish management protocols for the new UNSA lab, which will create a strong regional partner for collaborative EAPS research in Latin America. The resources for this collaboration as a whole come from the mining canon of Peru in Arequipa, which was accessed by UNSA to fund the collaborative Nexus Institute proposals. “In the Nexus Institute, we are exploring new data driven water and soil management and monitoring strategies that are key to achieving agricultural and economic development, mitigating risks associated with future land use change, climate change and variability,” Dr. Filley said. “Rarely do projects have the financial resources to draw from such a broad expertise base for one dedicated project.”


The Partnership had its official kick-off in March 2018 and teams of Purdue and UNSA researchers are already working collaboratively. In August, a team of 25 faculty from UNSA came to Purdue’s campus for specialized training workshops led by faculty from across campus and included modules on remote sensing, high performance computing, soil health and erosion, field sampling, social science assessment methodologies, and more. EAPS faculty played an important role leading workshops on soil formation and global distribution (led by Dr. Cliff Johnston) and principles and application of stable isotope ratio measurements (led by Drs. Welp, Michalski, and Filley). Additionally, UNSA will support a new visiting scholar network program to house up to 20 UNSA faculty at Purdue for up to a year each. In the next few weeks EAPS faculty and the newly hired postdocs will be heading down to Peru to begin their field work within the coastal deserts and high Andean villages of the region. More information about the partnership can be found on the Arequipa Nexus website, https://www.



Photos provided by Dr. Doug Schmitt

Dr. Doug Schmitt, EAPS Professor and Stephen and Karen Brand Chair of Unconventional Energy, gets around. In addition to having lived Canada and the United States, he’s done field research on six continents, as well as a teaching partnership with the China University of Petroleum – Beijing. That entire career began, he says, with a chance encounter. “I was just finishing my physics degree, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do next,” he said. “I was literally walking down the hall and my former T.A. asked me if I wanted a job.” That job, as it turned out, was doing exploration geophysics with an oil company on the east coast of Canada. Dr. Schmitt worked there for a year and a half before entering graduate school, by which time he had discovered he enjoyed the combination of physics, computers, and geology. He received his Master’s and Doctorate degrees from the California Institute of Technology followed by a Postdoc at Stanford then ultimately went to the University of Alberta. There he built a successful research program in rock physics, studying the physical properties of rocks and how they change. He now has more than 30 years of experience in that field, has advised more than 50 graduate students, and published more than 130 scholarly journal articles. “Because I never can say no,” he said with a chuckle, “I’ve been fortunate to be involved in projects now on several continents for scientific drilling. My laboratory also has unique capabilities for studying the physical properties of rocks and their responses to changes in the subsurface. But while the lab


measurements are critical, I also think it’s important to actually look also at what real geophysical responses in the field would look like and this motivates our borehole and seismic imaging field investigations. That has led him to some rather interesting field projects. One of those, for example, includes using geophysical techniques to track CO2 once it’s in the ground. This can have implications for local communities, including avoiding the potential of ground water pollution. “You want to keep the CO2 from leaking into other aquifers, especially groundwater,” Dr. Schmitt said. “A lot of these projects are deep in the Earth, so it’s very difficult to monitor because you cannot know exactly the geological in 3D. That’s why carrying out repeated, or ‘4-D’ seismology can be really handy to track motion of fluids and pressures within the crust.” So what led him to bring his research program to Purdue? While Dr. Schmitt had a wonderful time at the University of Alberta, it was the culture of the EAPS department, as well as the research opportunities, that piqued his interest in the Stephen and Karen Brand Chair of Unconventional Energy. “There was a nice opportunity for me to get a reboot on my career, to start some new initiatives, and get into a new environment again,” he said. “There was just great opportunity here to do some new things and work some new people. The Department here has welcomed me like a family, and that made a difference in my decision as well.” Dr. Schmitt occupies the Stephen and Karen Brand Chair of Unconventional Energy, the department’s first endowed chair, which was made possible by a generous gift from EAPS alumnus Dr. Stephen Brand and his wife Karen.



Photo by Anna Snabl

EAPS Communications Specialist Logan Judy wants you to Google his name. Because if he’s lucky enough, you just might discover his second life. The author of multiple science fiction novels, Judy - and no, he didn’t change his last name for publication - considers himself a storyteller in more ways than one. “I love stories, in and out of the office,” he said. “I always wanted a job where I could use story to relate to important truths. My books give me a creative outlet for fiction, while my job provides that experience for non-fiction, in a way.” A self-described “writer with a Batman complex,” Judy’s fiction mostly explores superheroes. His first novel, “Finding Sage,” is about a group of superpowered people hunted under a tyrannical government, searching for a legendary freedom fighter. It was released in 2014 and remains the most popular of his books. But Judy’s journey into writing starts several years prior. “I like to tell people I started writing when I was 12 years old,” he said. “But that’s the short answer. The long answer is that I wrote a story when I was seven about bullying that I printed at home and stapled into a booklet. Twelve is when I started writing the less embarrassing stuff.” The elusive task of finishing a book largely eluded Judy for several years. Despite this, he continued to write, expanding his interest beyond fiction.


Photo by Rebecca Judy

Once on campus at Purdue as an undergraduate majoring in public relations, he joined The Purdue Exponent. He would work there for two years, first as a staff reporter, and later as a columnist, with a brief stint away at a communications internship with the Indiana House of Representatives. The common thread between all of these things? The joy of story. “I always look for the story,” he said. “People relate better to stories than they do to brute facts alone, and that’s as important in the sciences as it is in other fields. So I like to think about what person’s problem this research might be solving, or the way a new discovery might change someone’s life. That’s obviously easier to find at some times than others, but it’s always worth asking the question.” After nearly a year as the Marketing Manager for the Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette, Judy joined Purdue as the EAPS Communications Specialist in July 2016. Since then, he has continued to pursue writing and a communications career concurrently, appearing at local author events, giving talks on fiction, participating in book signings, and even appearing on the occasional podcast. In his day job at EAPS, Judy writes as well, including stories about research, alumni accomplishments, and the successes of students. He has also found opportunities to explore other creative media, such as photography and video, in his other communications duties, such as social media and website management. In each of these contexts, he remains excited about his career, both in and out of the office. “I’m especially grateful that my life circumstances have allowed me to pursue both of these things at once,” he said. “That’s thanks to the support of my colleagues, my family, and my friends; they’ve made this possible.” More information about Logan Judy’s writing career, including news, details on his books, and more, can be found at

Images provided by Logan Judy


DR. HUBER RECEIVES AGU ASCENT AWARD EAPS Professor Dr. Matthew Huber has received the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Ascent Award, given to recognize exceptional mid-career scientists in the atmospheric and climate sciences. Dr. Huber has built a successful research program at Purdue University, studying climate change with a deep time focus, bridging paleoclimate reconstructions and modern climate analysis. Photo provied by Dr. Matthew Huber

“A lot of people are locked into thinking about small changes from the world today,” Dr. Huber said, “but when you start riding your ‘climate bike’ over rough terrain in places people haven’t gone before, sometimes you find new things. It can mean that progress is slow because it’s not a well-traveled track, but it’s worth it.” Dr. Huber has spent more than 10 years of his career at Purdue, and speaks highly of the interdisciplinary collaborations he’s been able to pursue. “One of the most rewarding things for me has been having collaborative networks of colleagues, pursuing science as a community enterprise,” he said. “None of this would work without the kind of dialogue and support that they provide.”

DR. CAFFEE ELECTED AGU FELLOW Dr. Marc Caffee, a professor in the Department of Physics with an EAPS courtesy appointment, was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union for 2018. The AGU elects individuals as Fellows who have made exceptional scientific contributions to the fields of Earth and space sciences, an honor that only 0.1% of AGU members receive in any given year. A physicist specializing in accelerator mass spectrometry, Dr. Caffee is the director of the PRIME Lab (Purdue Rare Isotope Measurement Laboratory), an internationally recognized facility in using accelerator mass spectrometry to measure long-lived radionuclides.



1990 – 1999 Dr. Drew Feustel (B.S., ‘89, M.S. ‘92) returned to Earth after serving on two consecutive NASA expeditions.

Do you have an update you’d like for us to share with other alumni? Contact: Logan Judy, EAPS Communications Specialist,


December 10-14, 2018 Washington, D.C.

AMS 2019

January 6-10, 2018 Phoenix, AZ EAPS will hold a reception at some of these meetings. Please check for updates at http://www.eaps.purdue. edu/alumni.


EAPS - Purdue University 550 Purdue Mall Drive West Lafayette, IN 47907

Dr. William Zinsmeister poses with artifacts in the field, circa 1995.