Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science

Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory dedicated two and a half days this week to celebrating the legacy and vision of Marilyn Fogel, who spent 33 years there doing groundbreaking research and mentoring generations of young scientists of all levels—from high school interns to postdoctoral fellows.

Fogel’s expertise in stable isotope chemistry has led to many breakthroughs in the fields of paleo-ecology, modern ecosystem studies, climate change, and astrobiology. In her honor, Geophysical Laboratory scientists and staff organized a workshop, called Marilyn Madness, which focused on the past, present, and future of isotope research.

They brought together nearly 100 of her current and former colleagues—including many of her former mentees who went on to brilliant scientific careers of their own. Participants reflected on the scope of research conducted using stable isotopes and recounted funny stories and cherished advice from their time working with Fogel.

In the spirit of fostering early career scientists and keeping research fun, the workshop included a speed-presentation competition, in which participants had three minutes to communicate their research using no or minimal slides and were judged on “content, clarity, and charisma,” Fogel explained.

Closing the conference, co-organizer Anat Shahar said that participating had made her reflect deeply on the power of strong mentors. Another organizer, Andrew Steele commented on the tremendous support system Fogel had built over the years.

In June, Fogel and her family made a generous gift of $50,000 to endow a fund for “very young budding scientists” to “spend a summer getting their feet wet in research for the first time,” she explained. (And any Marilyn Madness participants who saw the many photos of fieldwork conducted in wetlands, snow, and mangrove swamps, and other exciting locales will know that Fogel’s line about wet feet should be taken literally, as well as figuratively.)

Those whose lives were touched by Fogel and want to perpetuate her mentoring of young science lovers are welcome to contribute in support of this fund endowed in her name.

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