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Research Spotlight

Assistant Professor Clara Blättler holding a vial of seawater dating from the last ice age.

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Student / Alumni Spotlight

Nigel Brauser is a graduate student who studies the materials of the Earth’s core using diamond anvil cell experiments coupled with computer models.

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Faculty Spotlight

Fred Ciesla regular enjoys Chicago's bordering of Lake Michigan.

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Geophysical Science News

  • Dauphas selected for Mars Sample Return Campaign Science Group

    June 17, 2022

    Louis Block Professor Nicolas Dauphas has been named one of the members of the Mars Sample Return Campaign Science Group. According to NASA, the Group "will be the standard-bearers for Mars Sample Return science. [...] They will build the roadmap by which science for this historic endeavor is accomplished – including establishing the processes for sample-related decision-making and designing the procedures that will allow the worldwide scientific community to become involved with these first samples from another world."

    Samples are now being collected by the Perseverance rover for intended future return to Earth.

    More information can be found at https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/nasa-partner-establish-new-research-group-for-mars-sample-return-program

    And at UChicago News

  • UChicago’s Andrew Davis, Nicolas Dauphas and Reika Yokochi are all part of a team that have released first analysis of rocks plucked from speeding asteroid

    June 15, 2022

    “We really haven’t had a sample like this before. It’s spectacular.”-Andrew Davis

    The rock is similar to a class of meteorites known as “Ivuna-type carbonaceous chondrites.” These rocks have a similar chemical composition to what we measure from the sun and are thought to date back to the very beginnings of the solar system approximately four-and-a-half billion years ago—before the formation of the sun, the moon and Earth.

    “We previously only had a handful of these rocks to study, and all of them were meteorites that fell to Earth and were stored in museums for decades to centuries, which changed their compositions,” said geochemist Nicolas Dauphas, one of the three University of Chicago researchers who worked with a Japan-led international team of scientists to analyze the fragments. “Having pristine samples from outer space is simply incredible. They are witnesses from parts of the solar system that we have not otherwise explored.”

    “By examining these samples, we can constrain the temperatures and conditions that must have been occurring in their lifetimes, and try to understand what happened,” Yokochi explained.

    Learn more about the "gift that keeps on giving" right here

  • Edwin Kite and Bowen Fan analyze why Mars dried out

    June 01, 2022

    Early Mars had rivers, but the cause of Mars’s wet-to-dry transition remains unknown. Associate Professor Edwin Kite and graduate student Bowen Fan, together with co-authors from NASA, PSI, Aeolis Research, and the Smithsonian, analyzed global databases of water-worked landforms and identified changes in the spatial distribution of rivers over time. These changes are simply explained by comparison to a simplified meltwater model driven by an ensemble of global climate model simulations as the result of ≳10 K global cooling, from global average surface temperature T ≥ 268 K to T ~ 258 K, due to a weaker greenhouse effect. Unexpectedly, analysis of the greenhouse effect within Kite and Fan's ensemble of global climate model simulations suggests that this shift was primarily driven by waning non-CO2 radiative forcing, and not changes in CO2 radiative forcing. More details can be found at UChicago News. The research was published in Science Advances.

  • First author Anna Wisniewski worked with Graham Slater to assemble largest ever family tree for primates

    May 27, 2022

    Scientists at the University of Chicago and the University of Leeds have assembled the largest and most comprehensive family tree of the order primates, including both living and extinct species.

    Covering more than 900 species—about half living and half extinct—the new tree can help scientists understand the history of monkeys, apes, gorillas and humans, and how species originated and spread around the globe.

    “What this allows us to do is to ask some basic, but big-picture questions about the evolution of this group,” said graduate student Wisniewski about the paper.

    Go ape over the entire article right here!

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