New Year Faculty News

Helen Hill
Friday, January 6, 2017

A warm welcome to Andrew Babbin, and Matěj Peč as they join EAPS this month.

Andrew Babbin joins the EAPS faculty as an Assistant Professor

Image courtesy: Andrew Babbin

Andrew Babbin is a marine biogeochemist working on the nitrogen cycle, especially on the processes that return fixed nitrogen in the ocean back to N₂. This work is relevant, for instance, for understanding the controls on marine productivity and the ocean’s potential for storing carbon. In his early career, Babbin has already made some major contributions to this field, especially with regard to the relative contribution of anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) and canonical denitrification to the total fixed nitrogen loss in the ocean.1 He aims to expand his biogeochemical studies by using microfluidic devices to reproduce a variety of chemical conditions simultaneously and finely control the chemistry experienced by microbes. In addition to opening exciting new lines of research at EAPS—at the interface of physical, chemical, and (micro)biological oceanography and climate—his recruitment strengthens partnerships across campus, as with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the MIT-WHOI Joint Program).

Babbin received a BS degree from Columbia University (2008) and his doctoral degree (2014) from Princeton University. Since November 2014, he has been a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at MIT in CEE with Roman Stocker (now at ETH Zürich) and Otto Cordero, learning about microfluidic devices.

Babbin et al., “Organic Matter Stoichiometry, Flux, and Oxygen Control Nitrogen Loss in the Ocean,” Science 344, 406 (2014), doi: 10.1126/science.1248364


Matěj Peč joins the EAPS faculty as an Assistant Professor of Geophysics 

Image courtesy: Matěj Peč

Matěj Peč received his MS degrees in Microstructural Analysis from the Université de Montpellier, France (2007), and in Structural Geology from Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic (2008), and a PhD in Rock Mechanics from the University of Basel, Switzerland (2012). Since then, he has worked as postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota, with short-term visiting scientist positions at several universities in Europe and the US. His (mostly experimental) research focuses on melt-rock interactions and their influence on the physical properties of partially molten rocks. His work provides important information on the properties of fault rocks under conditions found in the lower crust (which will help understand the interaction of the lithospheric plates with the underlying mantle asthenosphere and, in turn, the mechanics of plate tectonics), on the processes that can trigger earthquakes at elevated pressures and temperatures, and on the emerging links between seismicity, metamorphism, and flow.

Recent work published in the Journal of Geophysical Research; Solid Earth,2 reports an exploration of deformation behavior observed in granitoid fault rocks under a range of temperature, confining pressure, and shear strain rate, to finite shear strains, to help understand the physical and chemical processes accommodating semi-brittle flow in such circumstances.

Peč et al., “Semi-brittle Flow of Granitoid Fault Rocks in Experiments,” Journal of Geophysical Research; Solid Earth, doi: 10.1002/2015JB012513