The Shirley D. Curson Education Plus Fund in Planetary Sciences and LPL

The Shirley D. Curson Education Plus Fund in Planetary Sciences and LPL (formerly the Shandel Education Plus Fund) was established by Shirley Curson, a generous donor and friend of LPL, for the purpose of supporting travel expenses outside the state of Arizona during summer break. The award is open to students in the Department of Planetary Sciences and Lunar and Planetary Laboratory who propose to fund study, museum visits, special exhibits, seminars, instruction, competitions, research and other endeavors that are beyond those provided by the normal campus environment and are not part of the student’s regular curriculum during the recipient’s school year.

2017 Curson Travel Award to Amanda Stadermann

by Amanda Stadermann

With support from the Curson Travel Award, I was able to attend the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) General Assembly in Portland, Oregon. The conference took place August 14–18, 2017, with a pre-meeting workshop on August 12–13. This volcanology conference takes place only once every four years, so having the chance to attend this year was an opportunity to become more familiar with the volcanology field and  to meet other volcanologists (both planetary and terrestrial).

The pre-meeting workshop was focused on the MELTS software package, which estimates the crystallization sequence of a magma. This workshop built on the geochemistry classes I have taken previously, and applied that knowledge to calculate the liquid line of descent of a magma composition of my choosing. I am particularly interested in MELTS because it can help me predict what phases I would expect to see crystallizing out of a magma at certain temperatures. This directly relates to my work on Apollo lunar basalts, where I perform experiments of decreasing temperature to determine what happens to the silicate melt as it crystallized. Using MELTS assists me in predicting the compositions of phases that precipitate from the melt. This workshop enabled me to understand the background behind the program and to learn how to utilize the program to its fullest capacity.

At IAVCEI, I presented a poster on some of my work, including my geologic and impact melt map for the area around the lunar crater Giordano Bruno. My poster presentation was particularly helpful because I was able to discuss the future of my work with volcanologists and planetary scientists who could help me determine what the best course of action would be for my work. This was especially beneficial given that my work is still rather preliminary; the critiques and comments were most helpful. 

Also at the meeting, I attended IAVCEI talks and reviewed posters by other volcanologists. I was particularly interested in geochemical talks and talks of terrestrial events that could be used as planetary analogues. The planetary volcanology session was interesting because the session took a more “how is it similar to terrestrial volcanism” approach than provided at the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conferences. I had the chance to meet in person several collaborators with whom I had previously only corresonponded by email. It was very productive to talk with them about current and future projects, and to plan future visits. I also got the chance to meet other young scientists that are in the planetary volcanology field. These connections help me to know where to go if I need help in a certain project, and who to go to if I need expertise in a particular subject area.

The trip to Portland for IAVCEI was very memorable and educational. I learned a great deal and built lasting collaborations. I thank the Curson Travel Award for giving me the opportunity to go to this conference and pre-meeting workshop to learn about the field of volcanology in a personal and substantive level.