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2009 Kuiper Award to Tamara J. Goldin


Tamara J. Goldin, Ph.D. graduate of the Department of Geosciences, was the recipient of the 2009 Kuiper Memorial Award. The award is presented to University of Arizona students in the field of planetary sciences who have excelled in academic work and research. The award is presented in memory of Gerard P. Kuiper, the founder of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and Department of Planetary Sciences. Kuiper died in 1973, shortly after the department was established.

Goldin enrolled in the Department of Geosciences in 2003 after earning a degree in geology at Tulane University. Shortly after arriving at the UA, she participated in the final cruise of the NSF Research Vessel Maurice Ewing in 2004, helping to acquire 3-D seismic images of the Chicxulub impact crater.

Goldin's doctoral research focused on the global effects of the 65 million-year-old Chicxulub impact, the event that extinguished the dinosaurs, among other groups of both land and marine animals. Dr. Goldin created computer models of the interaction between the Earth's atmosphere and particles ejected by the impact. These sand-size particles rained back into the atmosphere for about an hour after the impact, creating a global deposit about 3mm thick. She evaluated the energy lost by friction of the particles with the atmosphere and its transport to the Earth's surface by thermal radiation. She discovered that the thermal radiation from the late-entering particles is partially shielded by particles that had already slowed in the atmosphere, limiting the total radiation reaching the surface to a short but intense pulse lasting about 10 minutes. This heat pulse may not have been sufficient to start immediate wildfires, as suggested by previous work, but it may nevertheless have been enough to kill all large-bodied land animals.

Goldin was presented with a plaque and cash award at the LPL Awards and Recognition Ceremony held on April 9, 2009.


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