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School of Earth and Climate Sciences

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Graduate student presentation awards

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Each year, the School of Earth and Climate Sciences awards a cash prize to the master’s and Ph.D. students who give the best presentations in the School’s spring Brown Bag seminar. This year, the award for the best presentation by a Ph.D. student goes to Sam Roy, and the award for the best presentation by a M.S. student goes to Agnes Taylor.

George Denton wins book award

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Along with his co-authors Philip Conkling, Richard Alley, and Wallace Broecker, George Denton has received this year’s Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science for The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change (The MIT Press, 2011). The book focuses on the role of Greenland in recording climate history and how changes to its ice cap can be potentially abrupt, dramatically affecting sea levels.

As noted in the Phi Beta Kappa citation, “This award is offered for outstanding contributions by scientists to the literature of science. Its purpose is to encourage literate and scholarly interpretations of the physical and biological sciences and mathematics.”

Karl Kreutz appears in iseesystems highlight

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A new article highlights innovative teaching by Professor Karl Kreutz. The December newsletter for iseesystems, publisher of the popular STELLA systems modeling software, describes how Karl uses STELLA for teaching about the global carbon cycle.

In the article, Karl says “I knew that if students could really get their hands on the carbon cycle, they would be able to feel it.” Karl also notes how systems thinking is expanding into more areas of Earth and climate related research.

Scientists in Poland name new minerals in honor of Edward Grew

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Geologists at the University of Silesia in Poland have discovered two minerals new to science and have named them edgrewite and hydroxyledgrewite in honor of University of Maine geologist Edward Grew.

The new minerals were discovered by Evgeny Galuskin and Irina Galuskina in the Chegem caldera in the Northern Caucasus, near Mount Elbrus in the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic in Russia. The Galuskins are Russian mineralogists who have worked for more than 20 years at the University of Silesia. A caldera is a huge crater-like structure produced in very large explosive volcanic ash eruptions. Examples of calderas in the United States are found in Yellowstone and Crater Lake National Parks. When blocks of pre-existing sedimentary rocks were caught up in the Chegem caldera eruption, they were heated up to temperatures of 900 degrees Centigrade (1,650 degrees Fahrenheit). The heat turned these “xenoliths” of former sedimentary rock into calcium silicate metamorphic rocks called skarns that contain many rare minerals, including edgrewite and hydroxyledgrewite. The Galuskins have already discovered 18 minerals new to science in xenoliths of the Chegem caldera.

“The field area where the Galuskins discovered my namesake minerals is so remote that I don’t expect ever to be able to visit the locality in person,” says Ed. “But now that these minerals have been described in the scientific literature, I am hoping that mineralogists will look for edgrewite and hydroxyledgrewite, and hopefully discover other localities for them in the world.”

Edgrewite and hydroxyledgrewite were only found as tiny crystals less than 0.4 mm long and could only be identified under the microscope –they are smaller than the typical size of a period at the end of a sentence in a newspaper. Chemically, the new series ranges from edgrewite Ca9(SiO4)4F2 to hydroxyledgrewite Ca9(SiO4)4(OH)2 in which oxygen and hydrogen (“hydroxyl”) replaces fluorine in the formula. These new minerals are structurally related to the humite group of minerals. The diagram of the edgrewite crystal structure determined by Biljana Lazic and Thomas Armbruster shows its similarity to the magnesium fluorosilicate clinohumite.

Edgrewite and hydroxyledgrewite have been officially approved as new minerals by the International Mineralogical Association, and as required, a peer-reviewed scientific report of the discovery has just been published in the November-December issue of the journal American Mineralogist. The authors are Evgeny Galuskin, Irina Galuskina and 9 colleagues from Germany, Poland, Russia and Switzerland. The team includes crystallographers Biljana Lazic and Thomas Armbruster, as well as mineralogist Nick Pertsev, all of whom had collaborated with Ed on previous mineralogical studies during his career.

In the article, the authors wrote that the name edgrewite honors Ed as “a well-known scientist in the areas of mineralogy and petrology at the University of Maine,” who has “discovered or collaborated in the discovery of 10 new minerals.” The citation continues that “since his first expedition to the Antarctic from 1972 to 1974 when he wintered at Molodezhnaya Station, Ed Grew has collaborated successfully with Russian scientists.”

“I am thrilled to have two new minerals named after me,” says Ed. “It is a life-long dream come true. I have always valued my international collaborations in science, and so I was especially honored that colleagues in Europe proposed my name for the new minerals they discovered.”

Additional stories have appeared on the UMaine website, on Maine Public Broadcasting, in the Bangor Daily News, and on Bangor’s channel 7 evening newscast from 7 January (at the 9:47 mark).

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High ranking for School of Earth and Climate Sciences

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In the most recent rankings of the US New and World Report (2010), the Department of Earth Sciences (now the School of Earth and Climate Sciences) was ranked higher against our national peers than any other ranked graduate program at the University of Maine. We ranked 69 in the nation among Earth Sciences programs. The School of Earth and Climate Sciences is also ranked by the National Science Foundation as being in the top 30 Earth Sciences programs in the country by research expenditure (most recent ranking in 2009). These are impressive numbers, but our program has improved significantly over the past few years, so we expect that our rankings have also improved.

For more information, see these reports:

Gerbi selected as Kavli Science Fellow

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Over the weekend of October 12-14th, 2012, Chris Gerbi participated in the Chinese-American National Academy of Sciences Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium, held in Irvine, California. He was also invited to be on the organizing committee for the next symposium, in 2014, to be held in China.

Brenda Hall attended a similar Symposium in 2006.

Additional information about the program (

The Academy’s Kavli Frontiers of Science symposia bring together outstanding young scientists to discuss exciting advances and opportunities in a broad range of disciplines. The format encourages both one-on-one conversations and informal group discussions in which young participants continue to communicate about insights gained from formal presentations and the excitement of learning about cutting-edge research in other fields. By doing so, Frontiers helps to remove communication barriers between fields and encourages collaborations among some of the world’s best and brightest young scientists. Annual Kavli Frontiers symposia are held for young scientists in the U.S. and bilateral symposia have included young researchers in the U.K., Germany, France, Japan, China, Indonesia, and India.

Bess Koffman awarded prestigious NSF fellowship

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Bess Koffman, a Ph.D. student in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences, has won an NSF postdoctoral fellowship award. Next June, pending completion of her degree, she will begin work at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and at Cornell University, investigating the role of New Zealand dust in global climate during the Last Glacial Maximum. The project will take place over the course of two years, and will include field work in New Zealand, geochemical analysis of samples from New Zealand and Antarctica, and a global climate modeling component. Details of the award can be found here: Bess’s current Ph.D. research focuses on dust in Antarctic ice cores.

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Study on formation of mercury-bearing minerals

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Science Daily, the popular news website for breaking news in science, highlights a new paper in the July 2012 issue of American Mineralogist by Robert Hazen of the Carnegie Institution with co-authors including Ed Grew of the University of Maine.
Science Daily reports that the paper “demonstrates that the creation of most minerals containing mercury is fundamentally linked to several episodes of supercontinent assembly over the last 3 billion years.” With support from the National Science
Foundation, Ed has been collaborating with Hazen since 2008 on the topic of mineral evolution, which offers new insights into understanding Earth’s changing near-surface geochemistry through geologic time. They are currently writing a manuscript on
the evolution of boron and beryllium minerals. For more information, see the following links:;

Ed Grew highlighted in new book on Earth history

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The new book “The Story of Earth” by Robert M. Hazen (Viking Press, April 26, 2012) highlights Ed Grew’s research on boron and beryllium minerals and the emerging field of mineral evolution. Hazen, a senior scientist at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory in Washington, D.C., credits Ed with producing a “landmark graph” showing the increasing diversity of the 108 officially approved beryllium minerals over geologic time, adding that Ed had produced “an even more impressive survey of the 263 known boron minerals.” In the acknowledgments, Hazen writes that “I am especially indebted to Edward Grew, whose studies of the evolution of the minerals of the rare elements beryllium and boron have taken the field to a new quantitative level.” Hazen invited Ed to collaborate with him on mineral evolution in 2008, and since then they have co-authored three presentations at annual meetings of the Geological Society of America and papers on the possible role of boron in the development of prebiotic organic compounds (“RNA World”) and on the evolution of mercury minerals. Ed is currently writing a manuscript with Hazen on the evolution of boron and beryllium minerals.

A book review appears in Nature: Volume 485, Page 39, Date published (03 May 2012) DOI: doi:10.1038/485039a [seeing the full review requires a subscription].

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Geological Society award to UMaine students

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The Geological Society of Maine announced that Patrick Ryan and Peter Strand won the Walter Anderson Award for the best undergraduate poster at the spring Geological Society of Maine meeting, held April 13 at UMaine – Presque Isle.  Pat and Peter had traveled with Professor Brenda Hall in January and February, 2012, to perform research in Antarctica. The result of their work includes their poster “Investigation of the Ross Sea Ice Sheet History, as Preserved in the Antarctic Dry Valleys”. You can find more information about the Geological Society of Maine on their website.

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Contact Information

School of Earth and Climate Sciences
5790 Bryand Global Sciences Center
Orono, ME 04469-5790
Phone: (207) 581-2152 | Fax: (207) 581-2202E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469