The Search for Earth 2.0

Astrobiology and the search for biosignatures in our Solar System and beyond is central to all aspects of Sara Seager's research. In December 2013 Seager was called to testify before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Simply put, she told them "We stand on a great threshold in the human history of space exploration". This essay, adapted from her testimony, reveals in detail the 2013 MacArthur Fellow's thinking on why we should and how we can search for biosignatures as we probe the question "Are we alone?"


Bringing global warming science from classroom to world

This spring saw the launch of 12.340x Global Warming Science a new massive open online course (MOOC) from MIT’s edX platform and EAPS' first experiment with this exciting new teaching medium. Led by Professor Kerry Emanuel, the course aimed at providing a solid scientific foundation for understanding what is really happening with climate change. 


Tenure for Bosak, O'Gorman and Perron

Congratulations to geobiologist Professor Tanja Bosak, atmospheric dynamicist and climate scientist Professor Paul O'Gorman, and geomorphologist Professor Taylor Perron, each of whom has been awarded tenure, securing them a permanent home in EAPS as members of MIT's world-class Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science faculty. 


Madden Memorial Symposium

A symposium to honor the life and work of Professor Theodore "Ted" Madden, who died in November 2013 at age 88, was held March 14, 2014. The event brought together the Madden family, current EAPS faculty, former colleagues, and former students, and reflected the extraordinarily broad scope of Madden’s research, which extended from Earth’s core to the outer magnetosphere.

Letter from the Department Head

A message from Professor Robert van der Hilst, EAPS Department Head.


Other News

Reading Ocean Waves to Predict Ground Shaking in Earthquakes

Seismologist Germán Prieto and co-authors show a rupture of the San Andreas Fault could generate three times more shaking in Los Angeles than surrounding regions.


An Arctic ozone hole? Not quite

EAPS' Professor Susan Solomon's research finds that the extremes in Antarctic ozone holes have not been matched in the Arctic.


Storing Carbon in the Arctic

Paper by Stephanie Dutkiewicz, Mick Follows, Christopher Hill and others finds that as Arctic sea ice shrinks, the ocean stores more carbon.


The moon's face doesn't tell its whole story

Maria Zuber among researchers reporting that huge craters on the near side of the moon may overstate the intensity of asteroid impacts about 4.1 billion years ago.


Sour Ending

Postdoc Ben Black and co-authors, find that rain as acidic as lemon juice may have contributed to massive die-offs on land 252 million years ago.


Follow this link for more research news READ MORE


2013 Publications Review

A selection of peer-reviewed papers authored or co-authored by EAPS members during 2013.



Recent EAPS faculty, senior researcher and staff awards and honors.


Student and Postdoc News

EAPS’ graduate students and postdocs play a vital role in our work by taking the risks required to make scientific breakthroughs, by teaching and mentoring undergraduates, and by helping to attract and keep world-class faculty. Here is a list of student awards from the past academic year. 



Inspiration in a Spray Can

Atmospheric chemistry graduate student Michael McClellan joined EAPS in fall 2013. In this interview he reflects on his path to MIT, and his aspirations now that he is here.


Meet an EAPS Undergraduate

Senior, Kathryn Materna, shares her experience as an undergraduate in EAPS, her UROP with Professor Tom Herring analysing GPS data, and her fond memories of DEAPS Yellowstone. 


Follow this link for the Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences collection at MIT Video WATCH


November 2013 - May 2014

A busy six months was crowned with EAPS' inaugural William F. Brace Lecture presented by NASA Curiosity rover chief scientist (and former EAPS faculty) John Grotzinger. Read about this and a selection of other events from EAPS' winter and spring.


Looking Ahead

Commencement Reception

June 6, 2014

Coming to Cambridge for Reunion Weekend? In town anyway? Join us for our annual reception for new graduates and visiting alumni in the Ida Green Lounge (54-923) immediately following Commencement exercises.  Enjoy refreshments, reconnect with faculty, and find out what is happening in EAPS at this annual event.


Tech Day - The Future of Planet Earth

June 7, 2014

Through almost five billion years of evolution, planet Earth has withstood extremes of temperature, climate change, impacts with other bodies in space, magnetic field reversals, extinctions of life on a massive scale, and much more. Yet through it all, the planet stabilized enough to allow the formation of life sustaining systems that we are familiar with today. Tech Day will explore what we know about the emergence of life, the Earth, its systems, and the stresses that are inherent as well as imposed by human activity. As we think of the future of the planet, the questions this program investigates are: How does what we have learned about the past help us to predict where we are going and how to lay the groundwork for a sustainable future?

Join EAPS faculty geophysicist and Head of Department Rob van der Hilst, hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel, exoplanet hunter and MacArthur Award winner Sara Seager, geomorphologist Taylor Perron, geobiologoist Tanja Bosak and others for a fascinating and mind-expanding half day symposium.


John Carlson Lecture

New England Aquarium, October 16, 2014

Mark your calendar for the fourth annual John Carlson Lecture. This year's speaker will be former EAPS Faculty and Senior Research Scientist Peter Molnar, currently Professor of the Geological Sciences Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, CO. This public lecture will be preceded by a reception.

The John Carlson Lecture, sponsored by the Lorenz Center, communicates exciting new results in climate science to the general public. Free of charge, the lecture is made possible by a gift from EAPS alumnus John H. Carlson. The Lorenz Center is a climate think tank devoted to learning how climate works. Named for the late MIT meteorologist Edward N. Lorenz, a pioneer in chaos theory, the Center is led by EAPS professors Kerry Emanuel and Daniel Rothman.

All events in the EAPS calendar are open to the public READ MORE


Get Out in the Field with EAPS Professors 

The Alumni Travel Program offers 35 trips each year to destinations all over the world. MIT faculty lead many of these adventures, sharing their knowledge to further enrich the travelers' experience. Not surprisingly, EAPS professors are well represented in this program. In 2014-15 explore the Mohave with John Southard, Iceland with Tom Herring, Alaska with Fred Frey, Sicily with Clark Burchfiel, New Zealand with Ron Prinn, and Antarctica with Susan Solomon READ MORE

Support EAPS

By unlocking the mysteries of the natural world, EAPS faculty, researchers, and students are discovering answers to questions that pique the imagination and solutions to problems with important societal implications. Support these brilliant and creative minds with a gift to EAPS. In the face of uncertain federal research funding and increased competition for talent among our peers, your contribution will help us maintain our leadership in the geosciences. Fundraising priorities are fellowship support for graduate students and discretionary funding, used to seize opportunities and to address pressing needs.  

For more information on making a gift please go to our website at

Published June 2014
by the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT
Editor: Helen Hill
eapsnewsletter [at] mit [dot] edu
Next Issue: Geobiology - Life Emergent

Special thanks to: Dawn Adelson, Jennifer Chu, Jen Fentress, Vicki Ekstrom, Kerry Emanuel, Allison Gold Roberts, the Madden Family, Kathryn Materna '14, Michael McClellan, Vicki McKenna, Sam Ogden, Allison Provaire, Heather Queyrouze, Sara Seager, Jacqueline Taylor, Robert van der Hilst, and Genevieve Wanucha.

Contact information