Cin-Ty Lee- 2017 Guggenheim Fellow

Rice’s Cin-Ty Lee wins Guggenheim Fellowship

Earth scientist will study how and when continents emerged from oceans

Rice University Earth scientist Cin-Ty Lee has won a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship to investigate how and when continents emerged from the oceans and the effect of their emergence on the evolution of whole-Earth cycling of life-giving nutrients.

Lee is one of 173 scholars, artists and scientists — and the only Earth scientist — chosen as 2017 Guggenheim Fellows. The fellows represent 49 disciplines and 64 academic institutions and were chosen from nearly 3,000 applicants. Funded by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the fellowships are awarded on the basis of achievements and exceptional promise to allow scholars to pursue their work with creative freedom.

Lee joined Rice in 2002 and is a professor and chair of the Department of Earth Science. He studies the compositions of rocks to reconstruct how Earth’s interior, surface, atmosphere and life have evolved over time. Specifically, his interests lie in understanding how mountains and continents form, how Earth’s deep interior has differentiated and how deep-Earth processes modulate long-term climate and Earth’s habitability.In addition to researching the emergence and impact of continents, Lee will use the Guggenheim funding to explore crystal growth and kinetics in magmatic and hydrothermal conditions.

Lee has a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He has published more than 100 papers on a wide range of topics, including whole-Earth carbon cycling, the rise of atmospheric oxygen, the formation of ore deposits, coupling between magmatism and erosion, the temperature of Earth’s mantle and the origin of granites. He is a fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America and the Geological Society of America and has been awarded the Kuno Medal from the American Geophysical Union, the Clarke Medal from the Geochemical Society, the Donath Medal from the Geological Society of America and a Packard Fellowship.

Lee is also a world-renowned field ornithologist who spends much of his spare time painting birds and traveling the world in search of birds. He has published numerous articles on field identification of such difficult complexes as Arctic and Pacific loons, female orioles, American and Siberian pipits and dowitchers. He is currently working on a new guide to the identification of Empidonax flycatchers. He donates his paintings, teaches courses and leads field trips to benefit conservation-oriented nonprofit organizations and local schools.

Guggenheim Fellowships have been awarded annually since 1925. Each fellow is awarded a grant to help provide them with blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible. Grants have no special conditions attached and fellows may spend their grant funds in any manner they deem necessary to do their work.

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Sarah Gerenday receives HGS Undergraduate Scholarship

The Houston Geological Society Undergraduate Scholarship Foundation have chosen Sarah Gerenday to receive a scholarship for the 2016-2017 academic year. The scholarship goal is to provide financial support for applicants in their endeavor towards a career in geoscience.

Sarah Gerenday is an undergraduate Senior with diverse interests and talents ranging from donating time to social programs in support of medical research and minority student recruiting, to international choir residency at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.

In the summer of 2015, Sarah was granted the the opportunity to participate in a Department of Energy sponsored Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship at Argonne National Lab’s Applied Geoscience and Environmental Management section. That effort will support Sarah’s goal to continue with graduate research focused on the safety and effectiveness of combined geological and industrial endeavors, using geologic knowledge to develop efficient plans that minimize environmental impact.

Currently, Sarah is working on a senior honors thesis that studies the physical and geochemical history of peridotite zenoliths from kimberlites in the Kaapvaall craton in South Africa.

The HGS Foundation Trustees have invited Sarah and a faculty representative to attend the February 13th dinner meeting where they will honor all the scholarship winners.

Dr. Albert Bally awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Fribourg (Switzerland)

Rice wins 1st Place Poster at AAPG Student Expo 2016


Pankaj Khanna, PhD Candidate, won the 1st Place Poster award at the AAPG Student Expo, Houston 2016.

Poster title – ‘ Uppermost Pleistocene coralgal Reefs and Upper Cambrian microbial bioherms: Morphologies and sea-level induced evolution’



Earth Science Students Participate in Rice University’s 90 Second Thesis Competition

The Earth Science Ph.D. program fielded its first team of student participants in the university-wide 90 second thesis competition this spring.  Students Tamunoisoala LongJohn, Harsha Vora, Tuo Zhang, Zuolin Liu, and Lacey Pyle had 90 seconds to describe their Ph.D. thesis topics to a diverse panel of judges.  Follow this link here to see their performances.

Janne Blichert-Toft

Janne Blichert-Toft elected as member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters

Janne Blichert-Toft, one of our permanent Wiess visiting scientists, was elected as a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters.  This is the highest distinction for a scientist in Denmark.  Janne’s primary home is at the Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon in France.  She is one of the most highly cited high temperature isotope geochemists in the world.  Her research is primarily focused on mantle geochemistry, continent formation, and planetary processes. She was instrumental in establishing and leading Lu-Hf isotope geochemistry as a tool for understanding Earth processes.  Find out more about her research here.

We feel proud and fortunate to have Janne here each spring.  Congratulations Janne!

Rice students win coveted Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation

Every year, the National Science Foundation awards Graduate Research Fellowships to senior undergrads and beginning graduate students.  These prestigious awards provide full funding for graduate school in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering.  They are one of the most coveted awards for a young scientist.  This year, two of our current students and two very recent alumna received awards.  More information on how to apply for these scholarships can be found at

Elli Ronay (BSc – 2016) for “Paleogroundwater Modeling from Cave Speleothem Drip Maps Surrounding the Colorado Plateau: Implications for Uplift History”.  Elli just completed a senior honor’s thesis with Cin-Ty Lee, entitled “Identifying Ash in the Cretaceous Eagle Ford Formation: Implications for Ash Source Identification and Ash Dissolution Properties”.  She will be starting a PhD at Vanderbilt University this fall.

Maya Stokes (BSc – 2015) for “Co-evolution of river networks and life”.  She is currently a PhD student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Maya says “I am finishing up my first year at MIT working with Dr. Taylor Perron.  I am interested in how fluvial bedrock river networks reorganize, specifically through divide migration and stream capture. My field area will be the central and southern Appalachians, where I hypothesize, the evolution of the river network has affected the evolution of and biogeography of aquatic species. I will use a combination of remote-sensing data and fieldwork to quantify the style and extent of reorganization of river networks, and landscape evolution models to better understand the mechanisms of stream capture. For my second project prior to my general exams at MIT, I am mapping paleoshorelines of lakes on the Chilean Altiplano with Dr. David Mcgee and graduate student Christine Chen to investigate the paleohydrology of the region.”  At Rice, she completed a senior honor’s thesis with Jeff Nittrouer entitled “Synsedimentary deformation in prodelta sedimentary deposits: the role of failures in shelf to deep-water sediment transport in the Western Irish Namurian Basin”

Rachel Marzen (BSc – 2015).  Rachel is currently a PhD student at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, New York.  While at Rice, she worked with Julia Morgan on a senior honor’s thesis entitled “Modeling Effects of Cohesion on Interactions between Erosion and Exhumation in a Bivergent Origenic Wedge”

Andrew Moodie is a current PhD student at Rice, working with Jeff Nittrouer.  His NSFGRP proposal was entitled “Evaluating limitless sustainability of deltas”. Andrew states, “The sustainability of deltas is far from certain, due to a multitude of natural and anthropogenic factors. My research seeks to evaluate the Huanghe (Yellow River) fluvial-deltaic system through numerical modeling and field survey, to identify best practices for promoting long-term deltaic sustainability.”


Congratulations Andrew, Elli, Maya, Rachel!