Michael Walter Begins Tenure as Geophysical Laboratory Director

Experimental petrologist Michael Walter is now the eighth director of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory. We will officially welcome him to Washington on May 9 when he will give a public talk called "Deep Earth Through a Diamond Looking Glass."   

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  • A team of researchers including Carnegie’s Bob Hazen is using network analysis techniques—made popular through social media applications—to find patterns in Earth’s natural history. By using network analysis to search for communities of marine life in the fossil records of the Paleobiology Database, the team—including researchers at Harvard University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—was able to quantify the ecological impacts of major events like mass extinctions. Their work may help humanity anticipate the consequences of a “sixth mass extinction,” which the rate of species disappearance over the past few decades led many scientists suspect we are in the midst of right now.

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    In honor of Women's History Month, we're revisiting some discussions we shared with scientific experts from a variety of disciplines who visited our flagship building in Washington, DC, as part of our Capital Science Evening series of public programming. 

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Washington, DC — On Saturday, March 17, middle and high school students in the nation’s capital showed off their science and math skills in a full-day celebration of STEM education and innovation at Ron Brown College Preparatory High School. Three DC high school students were selected as grand prize winners of the DC STEM Fair’s Senior Division. 

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Palo Alto, CA—Senior scientist Arthur Grossman of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology was part of a team* awarded a three-year grant, with $100,000 for each year, from the International Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Organization. The team will use an integrated approach to investigate how light and metabolic signals control photosynthetic processes in algae.  

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Pasadena, CA—Pomona College junior and returning Carnegie Observatories intern Sal Fu was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in recognition of her academic and research success and to support her continued “academic study and research in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering.” Fu has participated in the Carnegie Summer Undergraduate Research program over the past two summers, working with staff astronomer Josh Simon studying dwarf galaxies and streams of stars surrounding our Milky Way using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

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A team of scientists including Carnegie’s Tim Strobel and Venkata Bhadram now report unexpected quantum behavior of hydrogen molecules, H2, trapped within tiny cages made of organic molecules, demonstrating that the structure of the cage influences the behavior of the molecule imprisoned inside it. 

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Coral reefs are havens for marine biodiversity and underpin the economies of many coastal communities. But they are very sensitive to changes in ocean chemistry resulting from greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to pollution, warming waters, overdevelopment, and overfishing. Reefs use a mineral...
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The Zheng lab studies cell division including the study of stem cells, genome organization, and lineage specification. They study the mechanism of genome organization in development, homeostasis—metabolic balance-- and aging; and the influence of cell morphogenesis, or cell shape and steructure, ...
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Established in June of 2016 with a generous gift of $50,000 from Marilyn Fogel and Christopher Swarth, the Marilyn Fogel Endowed Fund for Internships will provide support for “very young budding scientists” who wish to “spend a summer getting their feet wet in research for the very first time.” ...
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Astronomy Lecture Series
Monday, April 23, 2018 - 7:00pm to 8:45pm

The formation of our Solar System was a chaotic collapse of gas and dust into the Sun, planets, asteroids, and comets we have today, punctuated by catastrophic collisions between these forming...

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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Oregon State University, Joy Leighton
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Can we use the ocean without using it up? The task is daunting given current trajectories in fisheries, plastics, and other pollutants, and the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification. ...

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Astronomy Lecture Series
Monday, May 7, 2018 - 7:00pm to 8:45pm

Sound waves propagating through the Universe only 400,000 years after the Big Bang now offer some of our most-precise measures of the composition and history of the Universe. In the last decade,...

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Joe Berry has been a Carnegie investigator since 1972. He has developed powerful tools to measure local and regional exchanges of carbon over spaces of up to thousands of square miles. He uses information at the plant scale to extrapolate the carbon balance at regional and continental scales....
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Alan Linde is trying to understand the tectonic activity that is associated with earthquakes and volcanos, with the hope of helping predictions methods.  He uses highly sensitive data that measures how the Earth is changing below the surface with devises called borehole strainmeters that measure...
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The entire universe—galaxies, stars, and planets—originally condensed from a vast network of tenuous, gaseous filaments, known as the intergalactic medium, or the gaseous cosmic web. Most of the matter in this giant reservoir has never been incorporated into galaxies; it keeps floating about in...
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April 23, 2018

Washington, DC—A team of researchers including Carnegie’s Bob Hazen is using network analysis techniques—made popular through social media applications—to find patterns in Earth’s natural history, as detailed in a paper published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. 

By using network analysis to search for communities of marine life in the fossil records of the Paleobiology Database, the team—including researchers at Harvard University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—was able to quantify the ecological impacts of major events like mass extinctions. Their work may help humanity anticipate the consequences of a “sixth mass extinction,” which the rate of species

April 23, 2018

Washington, DC — On Saturday, March 17, middle and high school students in the nation’s capital showed off their science and math skills in a full-day celebration of STEM education and innovation at Ron Brown College Preparatory High School. More than 100 local students participated in the 2018 DC STEM Fair, where they presented their own science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) projects to a group of 80 volunteer judges, including representatives from local universities, STEM professional organizations, research institutions, and STEM employer groups.

Three DC high school students were selected as grand prize winners of the DC STEM Fair’s Senior Division. For the first

April 17, 2018

Washington, DC—Interim Co-Presidents John Mulchaey and Yixian Zheng are thrilled to welcome experimental petrologist Michael Walter as the new Director of Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory.  

Walter’s recent research has focused on the period early in Earth’s history, shortly after the planet accreted from the cloud of gas and dust surrounding our young Sun, when the mantle and the core first separated into distinct layers. Current topics of investigation also include the structure and properties of various compounds under the extreme pressures and temperatures found deep inside the planet, and information about the pressure, temperature, and chemical conditions of the mantle that

April 9, 2018

Palo Alto, CA—Senior scientist Arthur Grossman of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology was part of a team* awarded a three-year grant, with $100,000 for each year, from the International Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Organization. The team will use an integrated approach to investigate how light and metabolic signals control photosynthetic processes in algae.  

HFSP’s collaborative research grants are given for endeavors that address “complex mechanisms of living organisms.” The program only supports “cutting-edge, risky projects” conducted by globally distributed teams.

Grossman has been studying algae for years.  Algae dominate the oceans, produce half of the

April 23, 2018

The formation of our Solar System was a chaotic collapse of gas and dust into the Sun, planets, asteroids, and comets we have today, punctuated by catastrophic collisions between these forming bodies. Dr. Masiero will discuss how the asteroid families in the belt today are the last remnants of these massive collisions, and give us a window into the processes that shaped our Solar System.

Joseph Masiero: Scientist & NEOWISE Deputy-PI, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

#AsteroidFam

Tune in to the live video here on and after 4/23: https://livestream.com/accounts/14570535/asteroidfam

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Oregon State University, Joy Leighton
April 25, 2018

Can we use the ocean without using it up? The task is daunting given current trajectories in fisheries, plastics, and other pollutants, and the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.  However, new scientific insights, tools, and partnerships are providing hope that it’s not too late to transition to more-sustainable practices and policies.  Dr. Lubchenco will draw on her four years as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and the Administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), her two years as the first U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean, and her decades of research around the world to summarize the importance to people of

May 7, 2018

Sound waves propagating through the Universe only 400,000 years after the Big Bang now offer some of our most-precise measures of the composition and history of the Universe. In the last decade, we have detected the fossil imprint of these sound waves using maps of the distribution of galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Dr. Eisenstein will describe these waves and the ambitious experiments that use them to extend our cosmological reach.

Dr. Daniel Eisenstein: Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University and Director, Sloan Digital Sky Survey III

#CosmicSound

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, University of Bristol
May 9, 2018

Looking upward, the vastness of the heavens is accessible through giant telescopes that collect light from the beginning of time. Turn a telescope downward and the opaqueness of our planet conceals the secrets of its origin and evolution. Diamonds, those translucent rarities, illuminate the depths of our planet and reveal connections between the deep Earth and the surface of our planet through both time and space.

Dr. Michael Walter: Director, Geophysical Laboratory,, Carnegie Science 

#DiamondScience

The Carnegie Irvine Galaxy Survey is obtaining high-quality optical and near-infrared images of several hundred of the brightest galaxies in the southern hemisphere sky, at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory to investigate the structural properties of galaxies. For more see    http://cgs.obs.carnegiescience.edu/CGS/Home.html

Carnegie researchers are developing new scientific approaches that integrate phylogenetic, chemical and spectral remote sensing perspectives - called Spectranomics - to map canopy function and biological diversity throughout tropical forests of the world.

Mapping the composition and chemistry of species in tropical forests is critical to understanding forest functions related to human use and climate change. However, high-resolution mapping of tropical forest canopies is challenging because traditional field, airborne and satellite measurements cannot easily measure the canopy chemical or taxonomic variation among species over large regions. New technology, such as the Carnegie

Starting in 2005, the High Lava Plains project is focused on a better understanding of why the Pacific Northwest, specifically eastern Oregon's High Lava Plains, is so volcanically active. This region is the most volcanically active area of the continental United States and it's relatively young. None of the accepted paradigms explain why the magmatic and tectonic activity extend so far east of the North American plate margin. By applying numerous techniques ranging from geochemistry and petrology to active and passive seismic imaging to geodynamic modeling, the researchers examine an assemblage of new data that will provide key information about the roles of lithosphere structure,

CALL FOR PROPOSALS

Following Andrew Carnegie’s founding encouragement of liberal discovery-driven research, the Carnegie Institution for Science offers its scientists a new resource for pursuing bold ideas.

Carnegie Science Venture grants are internal awards of up to $100,000 that are intended to foster entirely new directions of research by teams of scientists that ignore departmental boundaries. Up to six adventurous investigations may be funded each year. The period of the award is two years,

Director Emeritus, George Preston has been deciphering the chemical evolution of stars in our Milky Way for a quarter of a century. He and Steve Shectman started this quest using a special technique to conduct a needle-in-the-haystack search for the few, first-generation stars, whose chemical compositions sketch the history of element formation in the galaxy. These earliest stars are very rare and they are characteristically low in heavy metals because of their age. They were made of Big Bang material, mostly hydrogen and helium. It was only later that heavier elements were formed in the nuclear furnaces of newer stars.

 In their first study, Preston and Shectman compiled a list

Stephen Shectman blends his celestial interests with his gift of developing novel telescope instrumentation. He investigates the large-scale structure of the galaxy distribution; searches for ancient stars that have few elements; develops astronomical instruments; and constructs large telescopes. Shectman was the former project scientist for Magellan and is largely responsible for the superb quality of 6.5-meter telescopes. He is now a member of the Giant Magellan Telescope Project Scientists’ Working Group.

 To understand large-scale structure, Shectman has participated in several galaxy surveys. He and collaborators discovered a particularly large void in the galaxy distribution

While the planets in our Solar System are astonishingly diverse, all of them move around the Sun in approximately the same orbital plane, in the same direction, and primarily in circular orbits. Over the past 25 years Butler's work has focused on improving the measurement precision of stellar Doppler velocities, from 300 meters per second in the 1980s to 1 meter a second in the 2010s to detect planets around other stars. The ultimate goal is to find planets that resemble the Earth.

Butler designed and built the iodine absorption cell system at Lick Observatory, which resulted in the discovery of 5 of the first 6 known extrasolar planets.  This instrument has become the de facto

Geochemist Steven Shirey is researching how Earth's continents formed. Continent formation spans most of Earth's history, continents were key to the emergence of life, and they contain a majority of Earth’s resources. Continental rocks also retain the geologic record of Earth's ancient geodynamic processes.

Shirey’s past, current, and future studies reflect the diversity of continental rocks, encompassing a range of studies that include rocks formed anywhere from the deep mantle to the surface crust. His work spans a wide range of geologic settings such as volcanic rocks in continental rifts (giant crustal breaks where continents split apart), ancient and present subduction zones