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Introducing Earth Matters: News and features from the School of Earth Sciences

October 9, 2013

Pam MatsonDear of Alumni, Colleagues and Friends,

Welcome to Earth Matters, the new e-newsletter from the School of Earth Sciences.  Earth Matters responds to requests from many of you who asked for periodic updates about our research, faculty and students, developments in the school and alumni activities. We will produce issues three times a year, in fall, winter and spring/summer.

In our inaugural issue we are thrilled to present interviews with two professors who last month were named MacArthur Fellows for 2013: David Lobell (Environmental Earth System Science), a pioneer in understanding the environmental factors controlling yields of crops such as wheat and corn, and Kevin Boyce (Geological and Environmental Sciences), a new faculty member whose studies of the evolution of plants help us understand the evolution of the Earth’s surface. Their work embodies who we are in the School of Earth Sciences: leaders in both understanding Earth and solving urgent 21st century problems.  

Also in this issue we offer video of a recent lecture by Mark Zoback (Geophysics) on the hot button topic hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) as well as new findings from the lab of Wendy Mao (GES) about the formation of interconnected networks at Earth’s lower mantle. In addition you can become familiar with work by Adam Brandt (Energy Resources Engineering) and Steve Gorelick (EESS) suggesting that peak oil concerns should ease; a review of climate research by Noah Diffenbaugh and Chris Field (EESS) indicating that climate change is occurring 10X faster than at any time in the past 65 million years, threatening terrestrial ecosystems, among other things; and computer simulations from the lab of Eric Dunham (GP) showing that earthquake acoustics can warn of imminent tsunamis. Those are a few examples of the research topics in this issue, and just a glimpse of the science and engineering contributions of faculty and students throughout the school.  

The work of our terrific students appears in the Teaching  & Learning section. For example, we offer an environmental journalism class in which students learn important research and writing skills by responding to questions about sustainable practices. Out in the field, students seek to uncover the highly productive but long lost farming practices employed in Hawai’i 400 years ago.  And we have our own football star, Usua Amanam, who is co-terming in Energy Resources Engineering

In our alumni feature, Lina Echeverria (PhD, Geology, 1978) shares her secrets for successfully managing creative people, the focus of her recently published book, Idea Agent.  We also have an update from Washington D.C. on several graduates of the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources.

This is an exciting time for the School of Earth Sciences as we continue to evolve and grow in order to address challenges related to Earth and its resources.   I hope you enjoy this new communication and look forward to your feedback.  Be sure to stop by when you are on campus!

Best,

Pamela A. Matson
Chester Naramore Dean
Stanford School of Earth Sciences