Department News

Marie-Pierre Aubry elected as AAAS Fellow

millerThe AAAS Council has elected Marie-Pierre Aubry as Fellow, in recognition of her contributions to innovation, education, and scientific leadership. The tradition of electing AAAS Fellows began in 1874 to recognize members for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.  Marie will be recognized in a 13 February Fellows Forum at the 2016 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. At the forum, Fellows receive an official certificate and fellowship rosette pin, the emblem of Fellowship. For more information, go to AAAS Fellows. Congratulations Marie !

Welcome Back ! 2019 New EPS offices, new staff and a new semester... (2)

If you haven't noticed, we have a new EPS front office in Room 142 (aka Main Office) and Business offices in Rooms 148, 148A & 150A. We also have a couple of new smiling faces! If you have not done so, please stop by and poke your head in and check us out. Say hello to Tonya, Michael, Katanya and Wendy!


Katanya MeyersPlease welcome Katanya Meyers who joined us in July as EPS' Principal Secretary.
Katanya brings to us strong interpersonal and organizational skills which are already being shown to be a great asset to the EPS Business Office, faculty, staff and students alike. Katanya was previously the Clerical Assistant Casual and was promoted to Principal Secretary. We are delighted that Katanya decided to stay with us and we welcome her to our EPS family!


Michael FlakPlease say hello Michael Flak.
We are delighted that Michael Flak has been promoted to EPS’ Accounting Specialist I and will be working with you on grants and project expenses to name a few. One thing new, is that you may see Michael's door closed...because his new role in the department has him doing a lot of number crunching! Michael will be assisting Tonya in handling a lot of the accounting and balancing of budgeted Grants and Projects.


Wendy RodriguezWe also welcome Wendy Rodriguez as the Contract Clerical Assistant. She comes to us from Corporate America where she spent her previous 7 years managing Sports Contracts and Royalty Reporting for Mizco International, Inc. She has settled in nicely with EPS and looks forward to continue assisting in the streamlining of department processes.


Tonya RufusIf you have not met her yet, please also welcome Tonya Rufus who joined us in March as the new EPS’ Business Manager.
Tonya holds an MS and an MBA, and came to us most recently from SEBS Accounting Office. Prior to that she was a Senior Financial Analyst at Dow Jones in Princeton and an Associate Financial Advisor at Pricewaterhouse Coopers Lybrand in Parsippany. In her short tenure with us, she has helped to transition EPS and set up our business office following our no fault divorce from Chemistry!


Richard VaughnAlso new to the EPS is Richard Vaughn, our one and only IT GUY (aka Unit Computing Manager). We have to share Rich with other departments in SAS, so let’s try to make it easy by submitting work orders ( so he can help us from wherever he is whenever he can.


EPS has never had a decently staffed office like this, with such competent officers! We are thrilled and grateful to have such a strong support for our daily operations. We look forward to working with this staff to make the best of what our department and Rutgers can offer at a time when the Earth's Science has never been more important.


Prof. Ken Miller joins JOIDES Facility Board

Falko sq










The chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Greg Mountain, announced that Ken Miller (pictured) will join the JOIDES Facility Board the. IODP Facility Boards comprise a mix of scientists and representatives of national agencies that fund the IODP. They determine the effective use of drilling facilities in fulfilling the objectives of the IODP Science Plan. There are 3 Boards in all, governing operations of the JOIDES Resolution (this is the JRFB’s job), the Chikyu and ‘mission specific’ platforms. Each Board receives evaluations of IODP advisory panels about the science, sites, environmental protection and safety concerns of proposed expeditions and sets the expedition schedule at annual meetings. Ken will be 1 of the mandated 3 US scientists on the JRFB. Sea-going ops are currently ‘paused’ but you can be sure Ken will be deeply engaged getting the JR back out to sea asap. When that time comes his new responsibilities will become an especially demanding and important contribution to the continued exploration of the watery part of our planet.

Caio Mattos Receives National Geographic Early Career Grant


Our PhD student Caio Mattos has been awarded a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EARLY CAREER GRANT to support his continued field work in the Amazon and Cerrado ecosystems in eastern Brazil. Caio’s research focuses on understanding how water in the soil and rocks affect the distribution and functioning of vegetation in different biomes. Congratulations Caio! To learn more about Nat Geo Early Career Grants click here

Dr. Paul Falkowski's work on the evolution of cellular metabolism

Falko sqDr. Paul Falkowski and his Rutgers colleagues have discovered two protein folds important for understanding the evolution of cellular metabolism. Evidence suggests that the processes responsible for facilitating the biological redox reactions shared by members of the "tree of life" may have first appeared billions of years ago during the Archean Eon. Falkowski's team provide clues to not only the ways these ancients cells may have operated, but also the origins of life itself. click here for paper

EPS welcomes our newest faculty member Dr. Katherine Bermingham!

K BermKatherine joins us from the University of Maryland after spending 2 years there as a Research Scientist and prior to that, 6 years as a postdoc in the Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory group. From 2008-2011, Katherine was a Marie Curie Early Stage Research Fellow during which she received her Ph.D. in Natural Sciences (Cosmochemistry) from the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster in Germany. Katherine received her Bachelor of Science (with Honors) from the Australian National University in Australia.

Read more: EPS welcomes our newest faculty member Dr. Katherine Bermingham!

Ashley receives GSA awards

Ashley rock slideThe Geological Society of America has announced that our Emeritus Professor Gail Ashley is the 2020 recipient of the Rip Rapp Geoarchaeology Division Award as well as the Limnogeology Division Israel C. Russell Award. These awards are given annually for excellence in research, teaching, and service. In addition to Gail's numerous scientific achievements, the announcements recognized her commitment to integrity and ethical standards.
Read more about each award.

Undergraduate Joyce Franco awarded scholarship

 Joyce Franco, graduating senior in the department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, was one of nine awardees of the Angelo Tagliacozzo Memorial Geological Scholarship ( awarded by the Northeastern Section of the American Institute of Professional Geologists. The region includes NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, VT, NH and ME. Worth $1500, the scholarship is designed to "offer financial support to current junior and senior undergraduate geology students and to encourage serious and deserving students to continue their studies in the geological sciences". Accompanying image shows Joyce during fieldwork in Costa Rica where she worked on precise earthquake location in the framework of the GREAT project (

Joyce Franco

Dr. Bermingham opines about Earth's formation in NATURE

ImageWriting in Nature's News and Views, Assistant Professor Dr. Katherine Bermingham—an authority on cosmo- and geo-chemistry—comments on how the isotopic composition of very ancient rocks from Greenland help understand the building blocks of Earth. Particularly interesting is the origin of volatile compounds like water and organics, which could have arrived by carbonaceous chondrite (meteorite) collisions during the final stages of our planet's growth billions of years ago. click here for paper

Books by Professor McGhee

Distinguished Professor George R. McGhee's books about his research on macro-evolutionary processes, including a new title from The Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology on convergent evolution:

"Convergent Evolution on Earth, Lessons for the Search for Extraterrestrial Life"
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press)

"Carboniferous Giants and Mass Extinctions, The Late Paleozoic Ice Age World"
(Columbia University Press)

"When the Invasion of the Land Failed, The Legacy of the Devonian Extinctions"
(Columbia University Press)

Mcgee titles copy