Distinguished Lecturer Series 2015-2016

COMPRES, the Consortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences announces the speakers for its 2015-2016 Distinguished Lecture series in the field of Mineral Physics. The talks feature topics that emphasize the exciting high-pressure geoscience research being conducted within the COMPRES community and its significance for understanding fundamental Earth and planetary processes.  

The primary target audience for these lectures is undergraduates in departments of geology and related sciences at non-PhD granting institutions, but applications from all academic institutions in the U.S. are welcome.   

We are pleased to announce that the COMPRES Distinguished Lecturers for  2015-2016 are Heather Watson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Kanani Lee of Yale University. Their lecture titles, abstracts and bios are below. We invite you to request a visit of a COMPRES lecturer to your institution during the next academic year by following these instructions.
COMPRES will fund all travel costs for the speaker, including transportation, accommodation and meals. There is no cost to the hosting institution. The host colleges or universities will be expected to arrange the talks and provide local logistical support.

If your institution is interested in requesting a visit, please send your request to Carl Agee, President of COMPRES [agee@unm.edu] with a copy to Shannon Clark [skclark@unm.edu].

The Lecture Program is designed to run from September 2015 through May 2016. Lecturer requests received by July 1, 2015 will be given priority. Later applications will be considered on an as-available basis. In making your request please include:  

1.  The name of a contact person at your institution for the months of June to August.  This is when schedules will be assembled.
2.  Contact e-mail addresses and phone numbers.
3.  Lecturer preference and flexibility.
4.  Preferred semester and/or month for the visit, including flexibility.  Also, if this is to be part of a regular lecture series, tell us the day of the week and time of the series.
5. Airport proximity and travel time to your institution   

We hope that your Department will be interested in hosting one of these mineral physics lecturers in this academic year.  
COMPRES is supported by the National Science Foundation Division of Earth Sciences.

Heather Watson

Heather Watson

Heather received her Hon. BSc. from the University of Toronto with majors in physics and philosophy in 2000.  She received her PhD in geology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2004. From 2005-2007 she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington D.C., and then a post-doctoral research staff member at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 2007-2009. Heather moved to Northern Illinois University as an Assistant Professor in 2010, and began her current position as a research scientist back at Rensselaer in 2012.  She has recently served as the vice chair and then president of the Mineral and Rock Physics focus group within AGU (2010-2014). By coupling a wide spectrum of experimental and analytical techniques with computational methods, she solves problems related transport processes within the Earth and planetary materials at an atomic to planetary scale. Specific areas of interest include the thermal history of meteorites and comets, the electrical conductivity of composite Earth materials, planetary core formation and core/mantle chemical exchange.

(1) A picture is worth a million voxels: Quantitative 3-D visualization of Earth materials

Recently, the development of 3-dimensional imaging techniques has revolutionized our ability to characterize the microstructure of Earth materials.  The advent of synchrotron based, in-situ, X-ray micro-tomography has allowed us to accurately visualize the 3-D evolution of microstructure as well as dynamic processes such as deformation and melt migration in real time at high pressures and temperatures.  High resolution imaging techniques such as the FIB/SEM cross beam have allowed us the visualize tiny (micron-scale) structures in 3 dimensions as well.  In this talk, I will discuss how we can use these complementary 3-dimensional visualization methods coupled with high performance computations of fluid flow to make more direct measurements of melt geometry and migration velocities in a partial melt systems. I will also present other new applications of this exciting technology. 

(2) From Comets to Cores:  Unravelling the thermal history of planetary bodies

Knowledge of the conditions during our solar system’s infancy is challenged by a lack of direct observations and sampling.  Our current view of this exciting time has been developed through the interdisciplinary work of experimentalists, modelers, theorists and observers. Understanding the thermal history of early planetary objects such as meteorites can give us insight into key aspects of the environment during the earliest phases of planet formation including the timing of differentiation and significant impact events. In this talk, I will discuss how we can gain insight into the deep past of our solar system, by applying experimentally determined diffusion parameters coupled with numerical simulations and observations of natural samples of astromaterials.

Kanani Lee

Kanani Lee

Kanani graduated from the University of San Francisco in 1999 with a B.S. degree in Physics and minor in Mass Communications. She received her Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of California, Berkeley in 2003. She was an O. K. Earl Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Geological & Planetary Sciences at Caltech from 2004-2005 as well as an Alexander von Humboldt Summer Fellow at Bayerisches Geoinstitut. This was followed by an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Physics at New Mexico State University. In 2008, Kanani joined the faculty in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale and is currently an Associate Professor of Geophysics. She conducts research on the physics and chemistry of Earth and planetary materials at ultra-high pressure and temperature conditions focusing her attention on the Earth’s mantle and core. http://people.earth.yale.edu/profile/kanani-k-m-lee/about


(1) Figuring out the Earth from the inside out

Although observations of dynamic events such as earthquakes and volcanoes are readily visible here on the surface of the Earth, figuring out how these natural phenomena are generated requires a deep understanding of the Earth’s inner engine.  We can go beyond the Earth’s surface, into the Earth’s deep interior—the mantle and the core—to learn about our planet.  By using complementary information from seismology, cosmochemistry, petrology and geodynamics, we use mineral physics experiments to answer fundamental questions about the composition, structure and thermal evolution of the Earth throughout its ~4.6 billion year lifetime.

(2) Planetary Diversity: From diamond planets to hot Jupiters

With more than 1500 planets (to date) confirmed outside of our own Solar System, the realization that many are very different from those in our own Solar System lends itself easily to the discussion of plausible planetary compositions and its effect on a planet’s thermochemical evolution.  In this talk I’ll bring together astronomical observations, mineral physics experiments and geodynamical models to constrain possible exoplanetary interiors.