The Red Planet
Mars is an enigma. From the extensive ridges of Dorsa Argentea to the alluvial fans in Saheki Crater we see a plethora of surface features alluding to the curious past of Mars. Ridges in midlatitude regions such as Tempe Terra, and those in Dorsa Argentea have been hypothesized to be eskers, ridges of sediment deposited by subglacial meltwater. My current research under Dr. Lauren Simkins and PhD candidate Marion McKenzie uses terrestrial eskers as analogs for these ridges in order to better understand martian glaciology.
There are infinite questions about our unique planet. One peculiar one is life’s origins. What ingredients did our planet have to cultivate the forms of life we see today? Carbon reduction is an important reaction that produces molecules necessary for life as we know it, and it is extremely relevant to astrobiology. Under Dr. Jessica Weber, I compiled a database of experimental designs and results of previous research studying mineral catalyzed carbon reduction reactions, in order to improve future experimental design, identify gaps in current research and better direct mission development, as studying these processes can be quite expensive in terms of time and other resources. Alongside Drs. Laura Barge, Laura Rodriguez and Rachel Sheppard, this research has been published.
Over thousands of years, snow compacts under pressure to form what we know as glacial ice. Thousands of years ago, swaths of ice covered large regions of North America and Europe, leaving clear signatures in our landscapes through erosional and depositional landforms. Through studying these landscapes, we are able to better understand paleo-ice sheets’ responses to changes in climate, something that can be extrapolated to current glaciers and ice sheets. Under Dr. Lauren Simkins and PhD candidate Marion McKenzie, I had developed MATLAB code, originally meant for quantitative clast analysis of outcrops in the deglaciated regions of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet. It is now being repurposed by PhD researcher Alie Lepp to gather grain-shape metrics of glacigenic sediments.
DEI in Geosciences and Planetary Sciences
Geosciences is the least diverse of all STEM fields. Not only is there a racial and ethnic imbalance, but inaccessibility of fieldwork can be a major deterrent to people with disabilities (cognitive, physical, sensory etc.) and to those who can’t purchase equipment. Additionally, despite the relevance of Earth and Space Science and our current education standards, the framework of K-12 education is not equipped to teach this content, thus many students who may have been interested, never know their potential in the multitude of Earth and Space Science fields. Diversification of these fields is necessary and will benefit them, thus through teaching and mentoring, I seek to mitigate the aforementioned problems.