Department News

Professor Gross to become NASA Deputy Curator of Apollo Moon samples and reflects to USA Today and National Geographic on the significance of the 50-year anniversary of the Moon landing

nasa positionNASA has offered Professor Juliane Gross an 18 month IPA (Intergovernmental Personnel Act) position to help open the Apollo Moon samples that were sealed 50 years ago. She will be the new "Deputy Apollo Sample Curator" at NASA JSC in Houston and will work in curation next to Dr. Ryan Zeigler (Apollo Sample Curator and the Branch Chief of the Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office) to oversee the preparations to open the samples and assist in the preliminarily examination, as well as assist in the curation of all other Apollo samples. As well as working in the Apollo lab, Professor Gross will be conducting experiments at NASA JSC, which also will allow Rutgers students a prestigious opportunity to help conduct research a NASA facility. Additionally, Professor Gross recently was interviewed for the special "50 years ago - One Giant Leap" magazine, jointly published by National Geographic and USA Today. In the article "Rocks unlocked", she is quoted together with NASA civil servant Sarah Noble about the importance of the samples collected during the Apollo mission and how study of lunar basalt rocks can help understand the origins of Earth. For further reading, check out his link:

Benaroya wins prestigious NASA-LPI internship

sophie b articleSophie Benaroya wins prestigious NASA and Lunar and Planetary Institute Summer Internship: Congratulations to Sophie Benaroya! Sophie has been selected for the highly prestigious and highly competitive 10-week summer intern program at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) - NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, TX. This is a remarkable achievement for Sophie (and Rutgers as well!) as only 10 to 12 students worldwide are selected to participate in this program. As intern, Sophie will experience cutting-edge research in lunar and planetary sciences, work one-on-one with LPI and JSC scientists on a research project, and be able to preview possible career pathways in planetary science. Sophie will work with Dr. Julia Semprich to model low-grade metamorphic minerals for sedimentary bulk rock compositions which have been measured by the rover “Curiosity” at Gale Crater on Mars. Sediments on Mars at Gale Crater are expected to have significant low-grad metamorphic phases. Sophie’s project will help to identify these mineral phases and help to distinguish between those formed as a result of volcanic- or impact-induced hydrothermal systems or burial that exceeds diagenetic temperatures. We are excited that our own Rutgers EPS undergraduate student, Sophie, gets to experience such a wonderful opportunity. Well done and congratulations, Sophie, we are very proud of you!

Galochkina selected as Goldwater Scholar

Mariya techCongratulations to Mariya Galochkina who was selected as a 2019 Barry Goldwater Scholar by the Board of Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation and the Department of Defense National Defense Education Programs. The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on November 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the preeminent undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Sherman accepts NASA internship

Sherman sqUndergraduate major, Elisheva Sherman (School of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2020), was offered a summer internship with NASA at the Ames Research Center in California! She will be heading out west at the start of June for a 10-week program to study algae blooms off the coast of Chile using satellite data. Elisheva is also the recipient of the Aresty Undergraduate and EPS Sparks Research grants for her research project “Changing Oceans and Changing Climates” working on stable isotopes and Mg/Ca ratios on deep-sea sediment cores from the Gardar Drift in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Galochkina earns prestigious award and internship

Mariya posterMariya Galochkina has been selected to receive the Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award at the New Brunswick Chancellor’s Student Leadership Gala. Mariya was also awarded a summer internship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution working with Delia Oppo, Senior Scientist in the Department of Geology and Geophysics. The Woods Hole summer internship is one of the oldest and most storied internships in the country. Congratulations to Mariya for both of these achievements!

Dr. Jill VanTongeren promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

JVTCongratulations to Dr. Jill VanTongeren who has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with Tenure. Dr. VanTongeren’s research is primarily on the evolution of large magma chambers including the Upper Zone of the Bushveld Complex of South Africa and the Dufek Intrusion of Antarctica. Since arriving at Rutgers University in 2014 she has published in several internationally respected journals such as Nature Geoscience, Geology, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, and Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. In 2016, she was a VAMOS visiting scholar at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. As well as Introduction to Petrology and various seminars, Dr. VanTongeren teaches Field Methods, a favorite among our Earth and Planetary Sciences majors.

Xiaoran Chen awarded dissertation development funding

thumbnail XiaoranChen bannerXiaoran Chen has been awarded $2,000.00 in Off-Campus Dissertation Development funding by the School of Graduate Studies. This award will facilitate her research off the project "Seismic Data Analysis and Interpretation in West Australia Craton” which she will conduct over the summer of 2019 at the branch of Macquarie University in Perth, Australia. The project is a key element of the PhD thesis research project that Xiaoran has developed, aimed at comparing interior structure of two areas of extremely old continental lithosphere, one in North America and one in Australia. The work will be done in collaboration with Dr. Huaiyu Yuan of Macquarie University, and will be based on a set of seismological observations he has accumulated in the past decade, and which are not widely available for study by scientists outside Australia.

Lepre awarded $87,000 from NSF

Lepre NSFDr. Christopher Lepre has been awarded $87,000 from the National Science Foundation to conduct a three-year project in the Turkana Basin of Kenya. The project will focus on using magnetic minerals in paleosols to reconstruct the impacts of Pliocene-Pleistocene rainfall variations on paleo-ecosystem change and human evolution. NSF programs Sedimentary Geology & Paleobiology and Archaeometry are jointly funding the award. For more information follow this link to NSF announcement & project abstract:

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!

Please 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!

Please 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.

We 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.                                                                                                                                                                           

If 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!

Also 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.


Potkay Receives CUAHSI Pathfinder Fellowship

APotkay EPS Banner

Congratulations to Aaron Potkay, a PhD student in EPS, in receiving the prestigious Pathfinder Fellowship from the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. ( CUAHSI)! The fellowship supports US grad students to travel to another site/institution to collaborate with leading scientists. This fund will support Aaron to spend the summer working with Prof John Sperry, a world leader on plant physiology-ecology, at the University of Utah. Aaron builds mathematical models on water transport in lichens and higher plants, and associated biochemical processes, to understand how plants cope with water stress and how land ecosystems function in an ever-changing world.

Learn more about the fellowship here:
Congratulations Aaron!