Who's Who? Who's New?

Lauren Hinkel | EAPS News
Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A chance to catch up with recent comings, goings and promotions in EAPS during June.

Congratulations to Gregory Wagner of the Ferrari Group for being promoted to Research Scientist, and welcome to to our newest members. Administrative Assistant Kayla Bauer joins the Bowring, de Wit, Cziczo, Jaqouts, Perron, Seager and Solmon groups.

Visiting Scientist Victor Tsai is a geophysicist, working with the Van der Hilst group, whose research focuses on seismology and geomechanics, fluid-solid interactions in Earth systems, theoretical glaciology, and environmental seismology. He has worked on modeling of debris flows, tsunamis, and subglacial hydrology and friction. He also has interest in understanding wave propagation, particularly for ground motion amplification using simplified models and imaging with ambient noise. 

Tsai received a B.S. in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology (2004) and a Ph.D. from Harvard University (2009). He was a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey (2009-2011) and a professor at the California Institute of Technology (2011-2019), and is now a professor at Brown University.

Benjamin Uveges joins the Summons group as a postdoctoral associate. He is a stable isotope and organic geochemist with broad interests in the biogeochemical cycling of nutrients, depositional characteristics of anoxic marine basins, and the use of molecular biomarkers for both paleoenvironmental and ecological studies. While MIT, Uveges will be working with sedimentary samples surrounding the Great Oxidation Event in order to better understand how the marine system responded to one of the most profound changes to the atmosphere in Earth History.

Biogeochemical nutrient cycling is a fundamental control on marine ecosystems as all organisms have certain basic requirements of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other trace elements. The passing of these elements between various marine sedimentary and organic reservoirs, can be profoundly influenced by the redox state of the water column. As we look towards an increasingly perturbed modern Earth and atmospheric system, regional zones of hypoxia and anoxia are, and will continue to expand under a warming climate. In order to better understand how the cycling of essential elements in the ocean will change with warmth and expanding low oxygen conditions, Uveges' research looks to ancient anoxic ocean basins during major climate transitions for context. By understanding how climate events affected nutrient cycling in the past, as well as the ecological response to that change, we can begin to make better predictions of how modern systems will respond. Changes in redox state and in the balance of the processes cycling carbon and nitrogen in aquatic systems can be recorded in the isotopic composition of these elements in sediments.

Uveges received his PhD in 2018 from Syracuse University where his work centered around characterizing the development and variability of chemically stratified aquatic basins through the use of sedimentary stable isotopes and pigment biomarkers. He was awarded his bachelor's degree from McGill University.

EAPS research scientist Bryan Riel is a geophysicist and engineer working with the Minchew group. He's interested in utilizing large-scale geodetic data to extract meaningful insights into the behaviors and properties of physical systems. Generally, the spatiotemporal signals of interest encoded in these data are confounded by noise, external forcing effects, data corruption, etc. Riel's research is focused on combining the power of modern machine learning algorithms and physical modeling to disentangle the primary factors of variation in geodetic data and associate those factors with physically-relevant processes. This form of theory-guided learning can potentially improve the generalizability of predictions and forecasts while providing a framework to probe the physical properties of complex systems using data. Riel's is currently developing and applying these tools to velocity time series for outlet glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica in order to study basal mechanics and ice-ocean interactions.

Riel received his PhD in Geophysics from the California Institute of Technology, 2017. He has two master's degrees, one in Geophysics from California Institute of Technology, 2014 and in Aerospace Engineering from University of Texas at Austin, 2010. Riel earned a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering from University of Texas at Austin, 2008.

John Casey, Simons Postdoctoral Fellow working with the Follows group, is a microbial oceanographer interested in the many roles microbes play in regulating elemental cycles and the transduction of energy in the marine ecosystem. Combining field observations, laboratory experiments, theoretical and computational models, he is working to build toward a mechanistic understanding of microbial life in the oceans. New theory is needed to bridge the gap from high-frequency cellular-scale processes to those of the larger marine ecosystem, but a fundamental understanding of the time and space scales over which microbes processes information is lacking. Casey is motivated to understand the objectives of cellular scale processes, how those objectives are influenced by communication between higher tiers of biological organization, and how they are imprinted in the genetic code. With Mick Follows and collaborators within the CBIOMES initiative (cbiomes.org), Casey is designing detailed models of microbial metabolism and physiology and using these models to simulate microbial community dynamics in the marine environment.

Casey earned a PhD from University of Hawai’i, 2017 and a bachelor's from College of Charleston, 2007.

Brandon Allen is a postdoctoral associate in the Ferrari group working on ocean modeling. During graduate school, his interests shifted away from elementary particle physics towards addressing how humanity can adapt to the challenges posed by anthropogenic climate change. Specifically, he is interested in improving regional scale modeling so that cities can assess the risks of climate-related hazards and implement resilient infrastructure to mitigate damage. Towards this end, he is contributing to the computational core of a state-of-the-art global climate model as part of the Climate Modeling Alliance. The focus of his work is implementing discontinuous Galerkin methods to improve modeling of the ocean and exploiting the latest advances in high performance computing hardware using the Julia programming language.

Allen has a PhD in Experimental Particle Physics from MIT, 2019 and a bachelor's degree in Physics and Mathematics from University of Florida, Gainesville, 2014.


Staff who have left:

Darline Duncan

Mordret Aurelien
Postdoctoral Associate
Prieto Group

Yves Bernabe
Research Scientist
Evans Group