Graduate Student News

Berkner Internship for Thompson

Fourth-year graduate student Michelle Thompson was awarded a Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internship with the National Academies Space Studies Board.

Graduate Student News

Berkner Internship for Thompson

Fourth-year graduate student Michelle Thompson was awarded a Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internship with the National Academies Space Studies Board. The internship will afford her the opportunity to spend 10 weeks in Washington, D.C., during the Fall 2014 semester. In addition to the Berkner internship, Michelle is the 2014 recipient of the Curson (formerly Shandel) Travel award; information about her funded travel and research interests is available in this newsletter. She is also recipient of a Canadian NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) and a 2014 NESSF (NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship). Michelle's advisor is Assistant Professor Tom Zega.

2014 Curson Travel Award

In the spring newsletter, we reported Michelle Thompson as the recipient of the 2014 Shandel (now Curson) Travel Scholarship. Michelle is beginning her fourth year as a graduate student working with Assistant Professor Tom Zega.

Graduate Student News

2014 Curson Travel Award

In the spring newsletter, we reported Michelle Thompson as the recipient of the 2014 Shandel (now Curson) Travel Scholarship. Michelle is beginning her fourth year as a graduate student working with Assistant Professor Tom Zega. She used the travel support to attend the annual Microscopy and Microanalysis Conference in Hartford, Connecticut, August 2014, and to present her work as a talk titled, “Electron Energy‐Loss Spectroscopy of Iron Nanoparticles in Lunar Soil using an Aberration-­Corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope.” Michelle describes the experience as a "unique opportunity to present my work to both the planetary science community and the community of microscopy experts."  Michelle's paper was selected for a Presidential Scholar award. 

Michelle's dissertation focuses on the effects of space weathering processes and how they manifest themselves in soils on airless bodies. She studies the effects of space weathering in samples from the Moon and near-Earth asteroid Itokawa. The lunar samples used in her analysis were returned from the Moon by the Apollo missions and the samples from Itokawa were collected by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa mission.

The effects of space weathering are concentrated in the outer one hundred nanometers of soil grain surfaces. In order to study these features at such a fine scale, Michelle uses an instrument called a transmission electron microscope (TEM), which allows her to get crystal structure and chemical information from samples at very small scales—the perfect tool for providing insight into space weathering processes. Among the space weathering features Michelle has been analyzing are iron nanoparticles in lunar soil, with each particle measuring only a few nanometers in size. These nanoparticles are produced through various space weathering processes and are responsible for changing the optical properties of the surface soils. Until recent advances in electron microscopy, scientists were unable to study the oxidation state Fe within individual particles. By using a state-of-the-art TEM, our study suggests these nanoparticles are not composed entirely of metallic iron, but a mixture of oxidation states. This has important implications for the nature of space-weathering processes on the surfaces of airless bodies.

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.

2014 NESSF Awards

Kudos to LPL graduate students with new or continuing NESSF (NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship) Awards:

New for 2014

Graduate Student News

2014 NESSF Awards

Kudos to LPL graduate students with new or continuing NESSF (NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship) Awards:

New for 2014

  • Diana BolserMicrostructural and synthetic studies of calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions: Insights into early nebular chemistry"  (Dept. of Chemistry; advisor: Tom Zega)
  • Tad Komacek, "Magnetic effects in hot Jupiters" (advisor: Adam Showman)
  • Cecilia Leung, "Mesoscale meteorological modeling of the martian hydrological cycle" (advisor: Alfred McEwen)
  • Kelly Miller, "Tracing sulfur in the early Solar System with the Rumuruti chondrites" (advisor: Dante Lauretta)
  • Xianyu TanAtmospheric circulation of brown dwarfs" (advisor: Adam Showman )
  • Michelle ThompsonUnderstanding space weathering of asteroids and the lunar surface: Analysis of experimental analogs and samples from the Hayabusa and Apollo missions"  (advisor: Tom Zega)

Renewed for 2014

  • Patricio Becerra, "Wavelet Analysis of Martian Polar Stratigraphy from HiRISE Topography" (advisor: Shane Byrne)
  • James Keane, "Stability of Asteroidal Regolith During Planetary Close Approaches" (advisor: Isamu Matsuyama)
  • Jamie Molaro, "Thermal Stress Weathering in the Inner Solar System" (advisor: Shane Byrne)
  • Sarah Morrison, "Multiple Planet-Debris Disk Interactions: Probing Planetary System Evolution" (advisor: Renu Malhotra)

Spring 2014 GTA Award to Sky Beard

Sky Beard is the recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award for Spring 2014. Sky earned the award for his work as a GTA for Dr. Tamara Rogers' PTYS/ASTR 170B2 course. He is a third-year graduate student working with Professor Timothy Swindle.

Graduate Student News

Spring 2014 GTA Award to Sky Beard

Sky Beard is the recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award for Spring 2014. Sky earned the award for his work as a GTA for Dr. Tamara Rogers' PTYS/ASTR 170B2 course. He is a third-year graduate student working with Professor Timothy Swindle.

Sky received several nominations from the undergraduate students in the class, each emphasizing the time, patience, and dedication that he took to meet with students outside of class and outside his office hours. One student credited Sky with grade improvement from a D to an A. To quote from one of the nomination forms, "Sky…puts his students before himself and truly wants to see his students progress in the course. He is a true inspiration for any undergraduate….”

Recipients of the Outstanding GTA Award receive funds of up to $1,000 to support travel to a professional meeting of their choice.

Juan Lora Named Recipient of 2014 Gerard P. Kuiper Award

Congratulations to Juan M. Lora, recipient of the 2014 Gerard P. Kuiper Memorial Award.

Graduate Student News

Juan Lora Named Recipient of 2014 Gerard P. Kuiper Award

Congratulations to Juan M. Lora, recipient of the 2014 Gerard P. Kuiper Memorial Award.

Juan Lora earned his B.S. in Astronomy (magna cum laude) from the University of Southern California in 2009. His research objective as a graduate student at LPL has been to understand the dynamics and history of Titan’s atmosphere, the only other body in our solar system with an active “hydrological” cycle, and to develop the necessary tools for understanding the atmospheres of extra-solar, potentially “Earth-like” planets. By using his adaptation of an ‘Earth-centric’ coupled general circulation model for application to Titan, he efficiently achieved the necessary code modifications and now has a working model of the Titan atmosphere. His simulations will allow an integrated assessment of the diverse observations of Titan, ranging from the polar methane lakes to the longitudinal dunes seen at low latitudes.

As a graduate student in the Department of Planetary Sciences, Lora has already achieved excellence with his research into the patterns of insolation and the seasonal variability of cloudiness and temperature throughout Titan’s troposphere. His analysis of Titan’s troposphere is both insightful and creative and was recently published in Icarus (Lora et al., 2011). This paper clearly shows that previous modeling efforts employed unphysical parameterizations of the insolation and that the conclusions drawn from those simulations about Titan’s wind and temperature profiles are likely erroneous. Lora’s most recent work, exploring the orbitally-forced variability of the lake locations on Titan using a modern general circulation model, clearly shows his increased expertise and technical skill, even considering the already high level of achievement present in his early work.

Lora is the recipient of a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) for 2012-2014. He will defend his dissertation on "Radiation and Dynamics in Titan's Atmosphere: Investigations of Titan's Present and Past Climate" in 2014. Associate Professor Joellen Russell is Lora's advisor.

2014 LPL Graduate Student Awards for Service and Outreach

This year, the Department of Planetary Sciences/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory was proud to recognize and award three graduate students for their efforts toward service and outreach, which includes attention to broader impacts and involvement in activities outside of academic responsibilities that benefit the department, university and the larger community:

Graduate Student News

2014 LPL Graduate Student Awards for Service and Outreach

This year, the Department of Planetary Sciences/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory was proud to recognize and award three graduate students for their efforts toward service and outreach, which includes attention to broader impacts and involvement in activities outside of academic responsibilities that benefit the department, university and the larger community:

In addition to being the departmental nominee, Melissa was also nominated for the college-wide outreach award.

Thanks to Melissa, James, and Jamie for their outstanding efforts in presenting science to a broader audience in 2014!

Melissa Dykhuis

James Keane

Jamie Molaro

Ali Bramson Wins College of Science Outstanding Teaching Award

LPL’s Ali Bramson won the award for Outstanding Teaching at the 7th Annual College of Science Graduate Student Awards. Ali was recognized for her work in developing a year-long seminar course called “Entering Research (LASC 397A).” The course, which Ali taught this year, introduces undergraduates to all facets of the research endeavor.

Graduate Student News

Ali Bramson Wins College of Science Outstanding Teaching Award

LPL’s Ali Bramson won the award for Outstanding Teaching at the 7th Annual College of Science Graduate Student Awards. Ali was recognized for her work in developing a year-long seminar course called “Entering Research (LASC 397A).” The course, which Ali taught this year, introduces undergraduates to all facets of the research endeavor.

In addition to the award for teaching that Ali won, the College of Science gives out awards to graduate students for Outstanding Scholarship and Outstanding Service and Outreach. Juan Lora and Melissa Dykhuis were LPL’s nominees for the latter two awards.

The award was announced at a reception held on April 16, sponsored by the College of Science and the Associate Graduate Council for the College of Science (AGCCS). Ali’s award marks the third consecutive year that an LPL graduate student has won one of the three awards. Given that our graduate students are competing against excellent students from 11 other departments, having a winner three years in a row speaks to the excellence of the graduate students we have.

Congratulations, Ali!

Recognition for PTYS Undergraduate Minor

Congratulations to PTYS undergraduate minor Cassandra Lejoly. For Spring 2014, Cassandra was named Outstanding Senior for the Department of Astronomy. Cassandra presented her research at the Astronomy Department's Graduating Astronomy Major Research Symposium on April 24. Her abstract is provided below. In the fall, Cassandra will be attending Northern Arizona University as a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Graduate Student News

Recognition for PTYS Undergraduate Minor

Congratulations to PTYS undergraduate minor Cassandra Lejoly. For Spring 2014, Cassandra was named Outstanding Senior for the Department of Astronomy. Cassandra presented her research at the Astronomy Department's Graduating Astronomy Major Research Symposium on April 24. Her abstract is provided below. In the fall, Cassandra will be attending Northern Arizona University as a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.


Cassandra Lejoly. I will present the periods of repeatability of individual coma features in Comet 1P/Halley measured using the position angle at different spatial distances from the nucleus in consequent cycles. I found that separate features appear to have different periods of repeatability within the same images, perhaps depending on the corresponding source regions on the nucleus. The periods of repeatability of coma morphologies will be presented as a function of time from the perihelion. I will also discuss the current work being done on the outflow velocities of the dust as well as the comprehensive modeling of the comet’s features.

 

2014 Shandel Travel Award

Graduate Student News

2014 Shandel Travel Award

Michelle Thompson has been announced as the recipient of the 2014 Shandel Travel Scholarship. Michelle is a third-year graduate student working with Assistant Professor Tom Zega. She plans to use the funds for summer travel to the annual Microscopy and Microanalysis Conference in Hartford, Connecticut, August 2014. At the M&M Conference, she will present her work as a talk titled, “Electron Energy‐Loss Spectroscopy of Iron Nanoparticles in Lunar Soil using an Aberration-­Corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope.” Michelle was awarded a 2014 M&M Meeting Award for the submitted paper, and was invited to present her research.

We'll report on Michelle's summer travel in the LPL Fall Newsletter!

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