Inside EAPS Spring 2018

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Volume 5, Issue 1 | Spring 2018

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

FROM THE HEAD When the EAPS department turned 50 last year, we took the opportunity to not just exemplify our accomplishments, but to look forward to the future. As the stories highlighted in this issue of Inside EAPS show, we are doing just that. We are excited to engage with new members of our department, including Dr. Cliff Johnston, a long-time member of the Agronomy Department who now has a joint appointment in EAPS and is featured in this issue. Other recent hires include Dr. Doug Schmitt as the first Stephen and Karen Brand Chair of Unconventional Energy, as well as Dr. Michelle Thompson, who will join us in Fall 2018 as an assistant professor in planetary materials. We also have searches underway in geochronology, and for the next department head. In looking forward, EAPS is developing four strategic initiatives for the future: Energy and the Environment, Severe Weather Science, Planetary Exploration, and Geodata Science. This issue highlights some of our progress in Geodata science with the announcement of a new Professional Master’s degree. From our teaching and research to the accomplishments of our alumni, we are passionate about Purdue EAPS leaving its mark in the world in positive and meaningful ways.

Darryl Granger Darryl Granger Professor and Interim Head


Photo provided by Logan Downing

Misc. Photos Provided By Dr. Nik Christensen, Logan Downing, Dr. Tim Filley, Dr. Briony Horgan, Dr. Cliff Johnston, Dr. Carl Lundberg, Jordyn Miller, Dr. Ken Ridgway, Steven Smith Cover Photo Credit: NASA

Photo by Brian Powell

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


Photo Credit: NASA


EAPS Alumnus Dr. Drew Feustel has launched to the International Space Station for his third space mission. Read his story, and learn how a geoscientist ended up in an astronaut’s suit.



Field Work Photos

For spring break, EAPS students headed to Utah for field research.


3 Doppler-on-Wheels

An EAPS faculty member brought the doppler-onwheels (DOW) to campus.




21 Events

GLOBE Regional Meeting


A major citizen science organization held its North American meeting on Purdue’s campus.

Graduate Student Feature: Noel Scudder Alumni Updates

New Faculty Member: Dr. Cliff Johnston EAPS welcomes a new faculty member: Dr. Cliff Johnston.

Alumna Highlight: Dr. Karen Kosiba


NEWS BRIEFS DR. FILLEY INTERVIEWED BY NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO PROGRAM “TECHNATION” Dr. Tim Filley, an EAPS professor who is also the Interim Director of the Center for the Environment, was on TechNation, a weekly interview program. In the interview, Dr. Filley talks about Purdue’s partnership with UNSA (Universidad Nacional de San Agustin), and specifically about the environmental and sustainability challenges in the Arequipa Valley of Peru. Photo provided by Dr. Tim Filley

COULD THE TESLA IN SPACE CARRY BACTERIA FROM EARTH? “If there is an indigenous Mars biota, it’s at risk of being contaminated by terrestrial life,” said Jay Melosh, a professor of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University. “Would Earth’s organisms be better adapted, take over Mars and contaminate it so we don’t know what indigenous Mars was like, or would they be not as well adapted as the Martian organisms? We don’t know.”

STUDIES SHOW URBANIZATION IMPACTS STORMS, RAINFALL DESPITE SURROUNDINGS In two separate papers, teams led by Dev Niyogi, Indiana state climatologist and EAPS professor, studied storm patterns over the coastal megacity of Mumbai, India, and the mountainous city of San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina, to determine how urban development affected storms in those regions.

COOL – SEASON TORNADOES BECOMING MORE COMMON, ESPECIALLY IN “DIXIE ALLEY” Research from EAPS Professor Dr. Ernie Agee and EAPS alumnus Samuel Childs finds that the months of November to February are seeing an increase in average tornado activity, with a shift away from the Southern Plains and a ramp-up over the favored terrain of “Dixie Alley.”




When Dr. Karen Kosiba (PhD, ’09) talks about research, let’s be clear: she’s not talking about crunching numbers in a lab. She’s talking about chasing tornadoes and hurricanes. An atmospheric scientist with the National Science Foundation-affiliated Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR), Dr. Kosiba’s work encompasses several different areas of research, education, and outreach. Most of these efforts are centered around the Doppler-on-Wheels. Famous for their appearances several years ago on the Discovery Channel program “Storm Chasers,” the radar trucks enable scientists to go directly into the storms to take more accurate measurements and learn more about the mechanics of storms. But here’s the catch – someone has to drive it there. That someone is Dr. Kosiba. After eight years with the CSWR, she has experience with the Doppler-on-Wheels (DOW)– experience that started as a graduate student at Purdue. “I did a lot of field work with the CSWR,” she said. “I did a lot of field work with the Doppler-on-wheels, I did tornado projects, hurricane projects, and this was all while I was still a graduate student.” Dr. Kosiba entered her Ph.D. work with a strong physics background, having obtained her B.S. and M.S. degrees in physics (Loyola University and Miami University, respectively). When seeking out a Ph.D. program, however, it was the weather that most interested her – an interest that goes back to childhood, when she would stay up late watching lightning. “I was really fascinated by studying the atmosphere and having the opportunity to be outside and design my own experiments,” she said. “It was intriguing to me that I could apply my physics background to the atmosphere.” After her experience at EAPS, Dr. Kosiba calls field work one of the biggest advantages of her graduate education. She was involved in it so much, in fact, that it took her slightly longer to graduate than many of her colleagues. But those opportunities also set her up for success later down the line. “The best thing about getting an education at Purdue was the diversity of people and classes and opportunities that I had,” she

Photos provided by Dr. Ken Ridgway.


said. “I had a lot of great opportunities to get out in the field and I think that’s really what solidified me staying in atmospheric science. My advisor was really great about giving me those opportunities, but also the people here were really nice and really were helpful in trying to make sure people were successful.” And successful she was – Dr. Kosiba obtained a postdoctoral position with the CSWR the year before her graduation, and worked diligently to complete her doctoral dissertation remotely. That experience led to more research projects, including a trip to Germany, and a career she still enjoys eight years later. In her own research at CSWR, she uses the DOW and other instruments to better understand the winds of severe weather, such as how tornadoes form and what winds are like in the hurricane boundary layer. Her position also includes prepping the DOW trucks for deployment to other educational facilities and helping with other DOW-related projects. These two elements of her job, as well as education and outreach, make for a very diverse career, something she says she loves about her job. The secret to getting a career you love? According to Dr. Kosiba, it’s a combination of passion and hard work. “I think the secret to getting where I’m at and liking where I’m at was just exploring a lot of opportunities. I kept doing things that I really liked no matter how hard they were,” she said. “Following what you really want to do and following it well and following it with passion is probably the best advice I have.”

Photos by Logan Judy


DISTINGUISHED SCIENCE ALUMNA: BEVERLY BARNHART EAPS alumna Beverly Barnhart was selected as a Distinguished Science Alumni in 2018. After receiving her Master’s degree in 1979, she went on to a career in intelligence that has lasted for nearly 30 years. Here is some of what she’s learned and what she’s experienced throughout her career.

What first interested you in Purdue and your degree program in particular? My older brother Tom, who graduated from Purdue, had sent me an article about Drs. Ernie Agee and John Snow and their research on severe storms using the tornado machine that they built. Tom knew I was interested in meteorology but my undergraduate school didn’t have a full program, only some portions of our geoscience course. I had a self-study book on meteorology from a professor in the physics department and wanted to learn more about it. Growing up in the Midwest, we were very familiar with severe weather and tornadoes, and I often listened to my father’s stories of living through a tornado as a kid. As a result, he was very cautious, always hustling us into the basement whenever there was a storm warning. As a child I had occasional dreams of tornadoes confronting me, so maybe subconsciously I was confronting my own fears by trying to understand them. Tom knew this research might be something I was interested in, and encouraged me to contact Purdue and apply for my graduate work there. Photo by Ed Lausch

What are some of your favorite memories from your time at EAPS? I remember having great professors and fairly small classes which allowed us to interact directly with the faculty and ask questions to get help whenever we needed it. I remember that some of the physics topics and the mathematics I was taught as an undergrad finally seemed to make more sense to me when I could see their applications to the real world—like Maxwell’s equations after Dr. Snow taught them in radar meteorology. I remember having many intellectual challenges as well as making many good friends at Purdue. We worked hard, played hard after classes, and even made a few tornado chasing trips. Luckily, I guess, we never caught one.

Can you walk me through your path from graduation to your current role? While finishing my thesis, I applied to many forecasting companies and government laboratories as well as think tanks like Battelle and MITRE to name a few. I received a call from the placement center one day to take an interview with a company called ANSER who was looking for physical scientists with broad backgrounds to work on defense problems. I ended up getting an offer from them as well as John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and Battelle at Pacific Northwest National Labs in Washington. I grew up in a small town, so I really wanted to live in or near a larger city with more cultural and social opportunities, and the job at ANSER in Arlington, VA was interesting since they worked on a lot of space problems for the Air Force. I spent two years there working on reviewing scientific experiments that were nominated for space flight. I had really wanted to continue with tornado research, which I knew had been going on at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) after hearing one of their staff speak at Purdue. They were studying severe storms and wind loading on reactor housings. I applied and was offered a position, but when I got there, that research contract was winding down, so I ended


up working with the licensing group. I was a contract monitor and interface between the DOE (Department of Energy) labs and the NRC technical staff who were reviewing nuclear power plant safety upgrades after the Three Mile Island accident. I coordinated with the DOE technical experts and the NRC engineers and physicists. I learned a lot about nuclear power and even took some of the classes that reactor engineers took, so that was very educational, but I decided I wanted to do more analytical and research work. I left the NRC to work at SAIC in McLean, where they were supporting the missile defense studies. I was assigned the task of researching all the foreign missile threats. I later did some work on a DOE contract supporting their analysis of the reactors and facilities in the weapons production complex. After a few years I decided that I wanted the stability of a government position, and shared my resume with the network that I developed from attending the missile threat meetings. It turned out that DIA was looking for someone to do research on foreign missile payloads, and my earlier work at SAIC and the NRC led right into that position. I came to DIA and have been there ever since, spending most of my time as a nuclear analyst as well as in various other scientific positions throughout the agency. When my last office was reorganized, I moved to the National Intelligence University, as they needed someone to oversee the WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) concentration, which fit right into all the experience I gained in my previous jobs.

People don’t generally think of the geosciences leading to working with the Department of Defense. How did that come about? Well, many folks don’t realize that DoD (Department of Defense) has nearly 90 scientific laboratories across the country besides its major agencies in the Washington area. The defense department employs thousands of scientists, from physicists and weapons designers at the various Service R&D labs, to weather forecasters, chemists, biologists, and all other STEM degreed scientists and engineers for a wide variety of research projects. The general public may not know that DoD is one of the largest energy consumers in the country. Moving troops, planes, ships and equipment around the world requires lots of energy, so everything from fossil fuels and renewable energy, to new battery technology is of interest to them as well as many other emerging technologies. As I mentioned earlier, I started out with an offer I received from ANSER after an impromptu interview on campus. They are an FFRDC, a federally funded research and development company that is basically a non-profit organization that is sort of “captive” to the US government, in this case, to DoD. After working there and at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, I went to SAIC, a defense contractor, working on missile defense technologies among other projects. When I left SAIC, I was hired by the Defense Intelligence Agency to continue work on foreign threat systems, and have since worked on a number of other projects including working in the Pentagon, working on emerging technology and energy topics, and now I am at NIU. NIU started as the Defense Intelligence School, many decades ago, and now, as NIU, serves as a graduate school for military and defense analysts working on national security issues throughout DoD and the US government.

Can you explain what you do in your current role at the NIU? I am a currently a member of the teaching faculty at NIU and the department chair for two concentrations of study. I supervise a small staff of NIU faculty and contractors, as well as teach a nuclear threats elective. I also teach a core S&T overview class as well as an analysis class. I oversee the WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) concentration and the Information and Influence Concentration, which looks at things like deception, propaganda, media and information power as it relates to national security issues. As a department chair, I have supervisory duties, but also participate in interagency working groups, oversee the curriculum in my areas which we review every year, and participate in all kinds of University activities like research seminars, and hiring and advisory panels.

What would you say has been the “secret to your success”? I’m not sure there’s really a “secret,” but I have been lucky in that each professional experience helped me learn new skills and broaden my knowledge, which has helped me in each successive assignment. Maintaining your


professional contacts and networking is vital to my job, in order to keep up with the newest information, and building one’s knowledge base. One of my performance objectives is to do outreach within the intelligence community and DoD, so I try to keep in contact with my previous colleagues and stay involved in community and interagency working groups and S&T seminars to maintain my professional network. My former colleagues have been invaluable to me when I had to create the nuclear course from scratch, and several of them are now helping the university by serving as readers for student theses and providing support material. When I find some new and interesting material or reports, I pass it back to them, and we share information and help each other. Teamwork is critical, and even at NIU, we often guest lecture for each other’s courses and work together on the core classes. I would also say, continuous learning is key. I never know what project I will be assigned or a new class I may have to teach, so I am lucky to be immersed in an environment of continuous learning.


What are your hopes and goals for the future? I hope to keep working in an environment that is mentally challenging and exciting, to keep my mind in a constant state of learning. I’d like get more experience with the other S&T classes at NIU so I can teach some of the emerging technology courses and take some time to do more writing in the quarters when I am not teaching. I’d like to encourage my students to take on some of the challenging technical intelligence questions that often don’t get enough attention in DoD because we have been so reactive after 9-11, and we need to start looking at the technologies that may catch us by surprise in the future. We have many priorities in the national security area, so I am hoping that I can be part of growing the S&T school at NIU and building a cadre of technically savvy analysts throughout the government, which we clearly need in these technologically advanced times. I am also hoping to build a wider academic network with Purdue and other labs and universities so that we can partner to bring in more guest lecturers at NIU and our interagency working groups. I am hoping that by building a wider network from DoD to greater academia, we can expand our students’ access to the great work that is being done here and all around the country. After all, they are the next generation of national security leaders and we would like to make sure they are exposed to the great work that is being done here at Purdue and the rest of our academic partners nationwide. The views presented in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, policy or opinions of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.

An international research collaboration including EAPS personnel (faculty member Dr. Jon Harbor and graduate student Sarah Sams) spent much of their spring semester in Antarctica. Photos by Dr. Carl Lundberg



Photo provided by Dr. Briony Horgan

EAPS graduate student Noel Scudder has a great job. He’s studying Mars at a time when scientists are wondering whether it might be possible for humans to live there in the future. His Ph.D. project relates to the past climate of Mars and to what extent liquid water persisted on the red planet in the past – issues that impact our understanding of its habitability. But Scudder hasn’t always been a planetary scientist. He started out as undergraduate studying physics at Stony Brook University in New York. Once he was introduced to the field, however, he was hooked. “I took an astronomy class because it was the first class on the alphabetical list,” he said. “I loved it, and I added an astronomy major. Then, during my time as an astronomy major, I took a planetary science class. I loved that so much that I switched my area of research and started working for a Mars planetary scientist.” That planetary scientist was Dr. Timothy Glotch, who pulled Scudder in on Mars remote sensing projects. When he started looking at graduate schools, one of the places Dr. Glotch recommended was Purdue, where Scudder has been ever since. Although Scudder was accepted at several graduate schools, he chose Purdue because of the exciting project and the opportunity to work with Dr. Briony Horgan. Since coming to campus, Scudder has been studying Mars’s past climate, specifically the Noachian period, which was around four billion years ago. “The reason why Mars’ early climate is so important to understand is that this was the time when Mars may have been most habitable,” he said. “The Mars 2020 rover may go to a terrain dating from this period, so understanding whether this period of Mars had a warm and wet environment or a cold and icy environment is really important for what habitability we expect. This research indirectly provides constraints on habitability and how likely it is that life could have existed on Mars at one point.” Scudder’s research relates to an issue with models of past Mars climate. Martian surfaces preserved from the Noachian period exhibit landforms similar to river valleys on Earth, and they contain minerals that must


have been formed in the presence of liquid water. However, models of past Mars climate typically struggle to produce temperatures above freezing, apparently contradicting the Mars geologic record. Scudder wants to try to understand why this apparent contradiction exists. So how do you study Mars’ climate when you can’t go there? Remote sensing is an important tool, but so is studying comparable sites on Earth. Scudder does field work at the Three Sisters volcanoes in Oregon, which have a similar geologic material to the portion of the Mars geologic record that he is studying. “The reason I need to do field work is it’s actually not well understood how snow and ice chemically alter basalt, or how the minerals formed by that process might be different from those formed Photo credit: U.S. Geological Survey under warm, wet conditions” he said. “Before I can try to understand whether the mineralogy of early Mars is consistent with such a climate, I need to first understand what an icy climate would actually produce on basalt.” That fieldwork leads to some exciting field trips. To get to the field site requires a 10-mile hike from the road, leading to a mostly untouched wilderness, next to a glacier on top of a volcano. There is a reason for this – the Three Sisters site is in a wilderness protected by the state of Oregon, and requires a permit to enter. “To get into the glacial valley, we had to climb a big cinder cone,” he said. “You get to the top of the cinder cone, and you get this beautiful panorama of the glacial valley. It looks a lot bigger in person than it does in pictures.” The next stage of the research project will be to compare the findings from the field site with the findings on Mars. If they match, it will provide plausibility for an early glacial Mars. If they don’t, then something else may have happened on the red planet. Until those findings are complete, Scudder will continue his research, working to better understand the history of Mars, and by extension, the possibilities of past life.

Dr. Shepson Accepts Dean Position at Stony Brook University EAPS Distinguished Professor Dr. Paul Shepson has accepted a position at Stony Brook University as Dean of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, marking the next step of his exciting career. Dr. Shepson has been a professor at Purdue University for more than 20 years. His accomplishments and research in atmospheric chemistry include founding the Purdue Climate Change Research Center, directing the National Science Foundation’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, and more than 10,000 peer-reviewed article citations. EAPS wishes Dr. Shepson all the best as he continues his contributions in the field of atmospheric chemistry.



A few blocks from downtown Lafayette, Ind., the Imagination Station is an active science museum marketed toward families. In spring 2018, it hosted a science outreach event that had families and children spilling out of the doors. The event was, “Disasters Happen: Will You Be Ready?”, co-sponsored by College of Science K-12 Outreach. It featured a variety of interactive science activities, including an earthquake simulator, an interactive sandbox to illustrate topography, and the famous Doppler-on-Wheels (DOW). The DOW is a radar truck that has seen a variety of action in the field, from hurricanes to thunderstorms to tornadoes. Educational deployments for the DOWs are in high demand. The National Science Foundation (NSF) distributes three of the radar trucks through its Center for Severe Weather Research, which are available to researchers with an approved NSF grant. The researcher in question for this event was Dr. Robin Tanamachi of EAPS. “We’ve been using it to teach our radar meteorology class, but we don’t want to keep the cool toy to ourselves,” she said. “We want to put it out on public display and have members of the public come by and get to see it, touch it, and learn more about what we do as storm scientists.” There is a strategic element to these kinds of public outreach events, as well. EAPS K-12 Outreach Coordinator Steven Smith said the goal is not just to have a fun event for the public, but to further public education, as well.


“Outreach events like this are important because they show the authenticity of science,” he said. “Kids actually get to see what real science is. In the classroom, they might talk about radar, but students never get to see something like a big radar truck. In a movie, you might see someone driving through a field at 100 miles an hour with a radar in a pick-up, but that’s not real. By having a community day like this, we will hopefully be able to correct misconceptions and excite people.” And excited the public was. More than 400 people attended the day of the event, surpassing any previous EAPS-Imagination Station outreach activity. In addition to public outreach, the DOW deployment also contributed to science on campus. “We’ve got students looking at things like the melting process, so snowflakes converting into rain, and we’re looking at refreezing signatures, so rain converting back into sleet,” Dr. Tanamachi said. “We’ve got good data sets on both of those things and we’re really excited to look at those and hopefully get some good science out of it.”

“DISASTERS HAPPEN” College of Science K-12 Outreach co-sponsored a public outreach event at the local science center Imagination Station, titled, “Disasters Happen: Are You Ready?” The Doppler-on-Wheels was at the event, and more than 300 people attended. Steven Smith, EAPS K-12 Outreach Coordinator, said, “Outreach events like this are importa nt because they show the authenticity of science. In the classroom, they might talk about radar, but students never get to see something like a big radar truck.”

Demonstrations of the DOW were given in multiple EAPS classes during the deployment, including undergraduate courses. Dr. Tanamachi also said Purdue faculty have brought the DOW to campus two times previously, although the most recent case was six years ago. Both of those deployments resulted in peerreviewed publication, and Dr. Tanamachi is hopeful the same will come from this deployment.

Photos by Logan Judy





rom studying car design in community college and racing in the Purdue Grand Prix to exploring for oil to servicing the Hubble telescope, Dr. Andrew “Drew” Feustel (BS ‘89, MS ’91, EAPS) has had anything but a typical career trajectory. His NASA résumé speaks for itself: Selected to be an astronaut in 2000, he is a veteran of two spaceflights, having logged more than 29 days in space with over 42 hours in spacewalks. But long before he was selected to launch into space, or began his geophysics career, Drew’s journey into the final frontier began in Michigan. Ask him about his interests, and Drew will tell you: he loves cars. That was the focus for much of his early life, including the restoration of a 1967 Ford Mustang that he finished in high school. When he entered college,


he initially attended Oakland Community in College in Michigan with an interest in car design. He later attended Purdue to study Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), but the car enthusiast in him remained and thrived, partially due to a longstanding Purdue tradition – Grand Prix. “I raced go karts after high school for about five years. When I got to Purdue and joined up with a fraternity, I got onto the Grand Prix team and drove for three years with the team, and was the Grand Prix chairman for two of those three years,” he said. “One of the reasons I did it was that my uncle won the race in 1965, and my dad drove in the race in 1963. There was sort of a family history of Grand Prix.” That mechanical aptitude has served Drew well in his career at NASA. In 2009, he served on STS-125, the fifth and final

mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Those skills are serving him again in his role as Flight Engineer on the ongoing Expedition 55. He will remain on the International Space Station as Commander for Expedition 56. Drew’s path to NASA came not through engineering, but rather Earth Science. Of Purdue’s 24 astronauts, he is the only one to graduate from the College of Science, attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Solid Earth Sciences and a Master’s degree in Geophysics. He later received his Ph.D in Seismology from Queen’s University in Canada. Why study geology when all other Purdue astronauts studied engineering? Because, according to Drew, he was excited for the applications Earth science could have to space missions. “I didn’t come to Purdue just because I wanted to become

Alaska in 1989. He describes Drew, whom he knew as Andy, as “adventurous, curious, and downto-earth.” During that trip, they were helping run a seismic line in the northern part of the state. This entailed sinking explosives into small, one-acre pools of water, then setting them off and using instruments to measure the seismic waves. The first time the two of them helped with this, they got more excitement than they had bargained for when they stood too close to the site.

an astronaut, but I had it in my mind that I was interested in the space program and thinking of the best way to leverage that,” he said. “I had this scheme that if I could come and study geology and geophysics, that I might someday be involved with space exploration and mining resources on other planets.” Even before his application for the Astronaut Corps, pursuing geology served Drew well. After graduation, he embarked on a successful career at ExxonMobil as a geophysicist. Professor Robert Nowack, who knew Drew during his time at Purdue, said the astronaut is a reminder of what a Purdue education in the geosciences has to offer. “I think one of the important aspects of Drew’s story, is that one can study in a technical field, like applied geophysics and seismology, and from this gain access to a high paying career in industry, but also then later be accepted into the Astronaut Corps,” Dr. Nowack said. “One can

“We walked around to the Photo credit: NASA backside of the lake to watch it, and Andy had a nice camera,” then really have one’s eyes to the heavens, while also have one’s feet Prof. Ballotti recalled. “It got down to the time and there was no on Terra Firma.” explosion. So we looked at each other and said ‘I wonder what’s While studying at Purdue, Drew going on?’ discovered more than a love for geology and space – he also met the love of his life. During his second year at Purdue, he met his eventual spouse, Indira Bhatnagar, in a rather memorable way. “The first time I saw her was running down Slayter Hill and we’ve been together ever since,” he said. “I stuck around on campus because she was there for three years doing her Master’s degree, and I stuck around to finish my undergraduate and do two years for my Master’s degree.” While Drew was pursuing his Master’s degree, his foray into geology and geophysics provided some adventures of its own. Professor Dean Ballotti, now a continuing instructor with EAPS, was a graduate student at the same time as Drew, and took a summer-long trip with him to

Photo by Dr. Nik Christensen


“Then, kaboom! It lifted us up and knocked us thirty feet backwards. It was fortunate that the tundra was there. But the unexpected thing was when we finally got back and developed the film, Andy had evidently held the camera button down – we got the whole explosion in about thirty frames of pictures.” Prof. Ballotti learned years later that Drew had dedicated his Master’s thesis to him, along with other dedications, for the great time he had in Alaska. Fast forward nearly two decades, and Drew now has a wealth of experience at NASA. One of the most memorable moments in that experience came during his servicing of the Hubble telescope. The mission required the loosening of a stuck bolt to initiate the repair, a difficult operation to perform in space, especially with the whole world watching. Professor Larry Braile,

This is the only place in the world, in the history of humans, where we’re trying to put the human race in space. who was also at Purdue during Drew’s studies, recalled the excitement on campus during the mission. “I still vividly remember the day of the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis for that Hubble repair mission,” Dr. Braile said. “Drew, a Purdue Boilermaker, and his fellow astronauts were to be launched on May 11, 2009 on the mission. Our department at Purdue arranged for a launch party with a large screen and live

video feed in one of our rooms on campus. France Córdova, then the University President, joined us at the launch party. I still remember being somewhat nervous before and during the launch, and in fact, during the entire mission. I also remember that about 30 seconds after the launch that we were watching on the screen, President Córdova spoke up and said ‘That’s a big boiler up!’ We all agreed.” Drew frequently says “Boiler up!” himself as he passes fellow Purdue

Photo credit: Purdue Unviersity/Trevor Mahlmann. Pictured left to right: Dr. Drew Feustel, Gary Horlacher, Scott Tingle


alumni in the hallways. His life outside of a spacesuit at NASA has other exciting dimensions as well, including playing guitar in the all-astronaut rock band Max Q, sometimes providing vocals as well. The group rotates members based on who is on Earth, and sometimes performs at spacerelated conferences and other events. As exciting as Drew’s experience at NASA has been, his original ambition of mining resources from other planets has not been part of it. Despite that, he said the mission at NASA remains more exciting than ever before. “We all want to be George Jetson, but we’re more like Fred Flintstone! We’re still not quite there yet. Someday we will be,” he said. “What’s happening here is an attempt to put humans in space, permanently, forever. This is the only place in the world, in the history of humans, where we’re trying to put the human race in space.” The mission to put humans in space is an international one. Drew launched to the International Space Station in March from Kazakhstan, with one cosmonaut traveling alongside Drew and another NASA astronaut. The key to working across multiple agencies and cultures, he says, is recognizing the importance of trust between team members. “Sometimes it’s more about the relationships that it is even about the technical information,” he said. “The technical stuff you can kind of get on the fly, but the reactions

and the support and backing each other up, that just comes from years of developing relationships and trust.” This applies to the cosmonauts of Russia as well as NASA astronauts. The team routinely travels to Russia for joint training programs to share technical information and build relationships. It is common to be invited over to someone’s house for dinner during these trips, or for someone to take the Americans on a tour of different parts of the country. Still, even in a friendly and collaborative environment, there still remains a difficult skill to acquire: learning to speak Russian.

Photo credit: NASA

with fellow Boilermaker astronaut Scott Tingle, who launched on his mission in December. Both of them are collaborating with Purdue alumnus Gary Horlacher, who is the expedition’s flight director. With all these Purdue grads, the International Space Station is looking more gold and black than ever. After his launch, Purdue University connected live to the International Space Station to award Drew an honorary doctorate during its spring commencement ceremonies. This and more features can be found at Photo credit: NASA

“They say only the first ten years are difficult; after that it gets easier,” Drew said with a chuckle. “The only thing we have going for us is that while we’re training, we learn operational language of the spacecraft. So you may not be able to have a conversation with someone in the middle of Moscow about the weather or politics, but if you’re in the spacecraft, you can talk about pushing buttons and acknowledging things and sending out commands.” Now at the International Space Station, Drew is collaborating



Photos provided by Dr. Cliff Johnston

Dr. Cliff Johnston has a lot of irons in the fire. In addition to having a dual appointment in the Departments of Agronomy and Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, he is also the director of the Enhanced Oil Recovery Laboratory. His research, which focuses on soil contaminants at the molecular level, has applications not just in soils, but in water pollution as well. But Dr. Johnston hasn’t always been a soil scientist. His interest in environmental science goes back to his days as an undergraduate student at the University of California at Riverside, when he was a chemistry major.

“I had to work my way through college, so I went to the student employment office and said that I needed a job,” Dr. Johnston said. “They said, ‘Oh, well, there’s this professor that needs some help,’ so I joined their lab with the title of Lab Helper.” That professor was Dr. Garrison Sposito, a prestigious soil scientist. As Dr. Johnston gained more experience in the lab, he eventually became involved in undergraduate research, leading him to publish two papers and enter graduate school advised by Dr. Sposito. After receiving his PhD in Soil and Environmental Science, Dr. Johnston went to work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher, but soon found he had an itch to go elsewhere. “I loved living in Los Alamos, and working there was terrific, but I felt like I wanted to return to teaching,” he said. “I took a position at the University of Florida in 1985 in the Soil and Water Science Department, and that was me returning back to my roots.”


Purdue Agricultural Communications photo/Tom Campbell

After 8 years in Florida, Dr. Johnston decided to make the move to Purdue in 1993 – then solely as a professor in the Agronomy Department – due to the opportunities to do collaborative work more aligned with his research. It wasn’t long, however, before he found himself doing collaborations with EAPS faculty. “Dr. Tim Filley and I started working together more than 10 years ago. We had an NSF project looking at the role of earthworms and how earthworms basically were mobilizing soil,” he said. “Since that time I’ve served on a number of his Ph.D. students’ committees, we’ve published papers together, and then starting about four years ago, I also developed a collaboration with Dr. Ken Ridgway.” His collaboration with Dr. Ridgway came by way of his role as director of the Enhanced Oil Recovery Laboratory. The lab is a multidisciplinary effort looking at new and innovative ways to extract oil from the ground. Part of the work in that lab involves analyzing geologic cores with a method Dr. Johnston calls “core to pore,” doing analysis from the large scale using geology to the small scale using chemistry. One of Dr. Ridgway’s graduate students, Timothy Henderson, did most of his analytical work in the lab, leading to Dr. Johnston’s being involved in his research as well. After these and other collaborations, Dr. Johnston was made an official dual appointment faculty in EAPS in 2017. It’s a change he says he’s very excited about. “I’m really happy to be in EAPS,” he said. “My research, looking at the really fundamental, basic level of things, is important for agronomy, but it’s broader than that. That’s why the connection to EAPS is really important.”



Photos by Steven Smith

If asked to guess where the North America region of an international citizen science organization would hold its annual meeting, would you guess West Lafayette, IN? If you did, you would be correct. The GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) Program is an international science and education initiative that encourages students and the public to participate in data collection. Now more than 20 years old, the program has partners in more than 100 countries. The North American region of GLOBE convened at Purdue this spring for their annual meeting, a first for the university. The host? College of Science K-12 Outreach, in an effort spearheaded by EAPS K-12 Outreach Coordinator Steven Smith. “This gives us a unique opportunity to be able to highlight and showcase our work to a very large audience,” Smith said prior to the event. “If we can excite people and show people the cool things happening here at Purdue, hopefully that will resonate and stay with them.” The event consisted of three meetings in the same week. The first was a “train the trainer” event, in which educators were instructed in soil analysis. GLOBE instructors for the sessions flew in from all over the country, as did some of the educators. Some, however, were Indiana teachers, who are now equipped to teach GLOBE soils to their own schools, creating an impact both local and national. Second was the GLOBE United States Partner Forum, which held its daylong meeting discussing how to help partners across the entire country accomplish their goals. Attendees at this meeting represent every region of the United States, and include representatives from universities and education organizations, as well as NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). “The Train the Trainer and North America Regional Meeting events were a huge success,” Smith said. “They allowed us to certify more trainers for GLOBE, which will increase the program’s capacity and in turn its impact. The networking and collaboration of the meetings set foundations for many collaborations for the


university and others.” The final meeting of the week was the GLOBE North American Regional Meeting, which included presentations, posters, and research across a broad range of organizations and disciplines. One of the forms this took was “lightning talks,” in which presenters have six minutes to give a brief description of their citizen science projects. These included presentations from the program sponsors. The Purdue Department of Chemistry also contributed to the event, including the regional meeting’s keynote speaker. More than 50 attended the events. Chemistry K-12 Outreach Coordinator Sarah Nern said the event highlighted the excellence of Purdue to a global audience. “Hosting the 2018 North America Regional Meeting for GLOBE at Purdue made the event accessible for Midwest GLOBE partners to attend. This event provided a wonderful opportunity to show GLOBE partners from the Midwest and other regions that Purdue’s partnership is excited to learn more about the promising practices and current opportunities with GLOBE.”

DR. HARBOR ACCEPTS POSTION AT UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA EAPS professor and former Department Head Dr. Jon Harbor has accepted a position with the University of Montana as the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, continuing his passion for education and science. Dr. Harbor arrived on campus in 1994, and has since served in many positions throughout the university in support of education and science. These positions include Department Head of EAPS, Interim Dean of the College of Science, Founding Co-Director of the Discovery Learning Research Center, and Executive Director of Digital Education and Associate Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning. We wish Dr. Harbor well in his new endeavors and have no doubt his important contributions to the geosciences will continue.



In an increasingly competitive job market, EAPS is giving students another tool to leverage for success – a professional master’s degree in Geodata science. The landscape of geoscience jobs is changing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the geoscience fields are projected to grow by 14% over the next decade for all degree levels. The nature and specialization of those jobs are changing, however. Technology has changed the landscape of the field, requiring Geodata analysts to get the most out of large amounts of data. The significance of data science across scientific disciplines has led Purdue to launch an integrative Data Science initiative, driven by interdisciplinary collaborations. How does EAPS tie into that initiative? With a professional master’s degree program targeting the intersection of the geosciences and data science. The program is a non-thesis degree option allowing students to specialize in data analysis in the geosciences, while also gaining exposure to industrial applications during their time as students. Applicants are required to have a Bachelor’s degree in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering, and math), and a strong quantitative background. Dr. Wen-wen Tung, who specializes in data science and tropical meteorology, said the addition of a specialized Master’s degree will give students an advantage in the job market. “Geodata science is an applied area,” Dr. Tung said. “Students apply statistical theories and methods in a computational environment. The goal is to learn the most that we can from the data for research and application. Taking a practical, applied approach like this will give our alumni an edge in employment and research, as well as advanced degrees.” That edge can apply to multiple disciplines within the geosciences. Dr. Tung has seen opportunities for data science within areas such as climatology, environmental science, wind energy, weather forecasting and risk assessment. There are opportunities for data science applications in Earth science as well, even if the way it is applied looks slightly different. Dr. Robert Nowack, who specializes in seismology and applied geophysics, said many companies in the Earth sciences need to process, visualize and interpret large amounts of data. Much like in the atmospheric sciences, companies are seeking to apply new concepts in data science, even if for different applications. “A student has to be more competitive now to get positions, and this means more technical skills,” Dr. Nowack said. “It turns out that seismologists at the Livermore National Laboratory, for example, are teaming up with scientists at Google to use new algorithms in data science to search for small underground nuclear tests, and also to hunt for small induced earthquakes in hydrofracking zones.” While some other universities offer professional Master’s degrees for specific fields such as GIS (Geographic Information System), market analysis conducted during the program’s formation found no other Geodata science professional Master’s programs in the United States. Students have begun enrolling in the program for fall 2018.



Photo provided by Dr. Ken Ridgway

1970 – 1979 Beverly Barnhart (M.S., ’79) received the 2018 Distinguished Science Alumni award from the College of Science.

encourages customer engagement with the company’s risk assessment and analysis products. Prior to this, he had spent five years teaching a STEMbased middle school course in Saugus, MA.

1990 – 1999

2000 – 2009

Basilio Lopez, Jr. (B.S., ‘90), Lowell, MA, joined Weather Analytics LLC in Dover, NH, as Manager of Product Sciences in February 2018 where he ensures and

John (M.S., ‘09) and Gabrielle Witmer announce the birth of their daughter, Margaux Juliana, October 30, 2017, in Houston, TX.

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


November 4-7, 2018 Indianapolis, IN

AGU 2018

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

AMS 2019

January 6-10, 2019 Phoenix, AZ EAPS will hold a reception at some of these meetings. The time and location is TBD. Please check for updates at


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

Photo courtesy of Purdue Libraries

This photo, taken around 1970, shows the old Pharmacy Building. EAPS, then the Department of Geosciences, resided in this building from 1970 to 1988.