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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences


earth and environmental sciences

With Fulbright, Bednarz to Conduct Research in Armenia

As a young girl growing up in small town Pennsylvania, Natasha Bednarz, MCAS ’17, investigated all things in her path. She explored the outdoors, collected rocks, and read for hours nonstop. Now, at Boston College, Bednarz has a Fulbright Scholarship to her name. After graduation, she will combine her lifelong scientific sensibilities, love of nature, and career goals into a high-caliber research project in the Caucasus region of Armenia. Read More

Faculty Opening: Visiting Assistant Professor in Geophysics

The Earth and Environmental Sciences Department at Boston College seeks to hire a Visiting Assistant Professor for a 1-year term position starting in late summer 2017.  Candidates should have a PhD in Geophysics, Oceanography, Geology or a related field from an accredited institution of higher education by the time of appointment. Experience teaching at the undergraduate level is an advantage.  Learn More

Carling Hay
Tenure-track Assistant Professor, Environmental Systems Modeler

We are pleased to announce the hiring of Dr. Carling Hay from Harvard University.  She will start on September 1, 2017.  Her research focuses on using statistical techniques to better understand global mean sea level during current and past warm periods, and to develop the tools necessary to extract source information from historical sea-level records.  Understanding how past sea level has changed in response to rising surface temperatures is a critical step in our ability to predict sea-level rise into the next century and beyond.

Corinne Wong
Weather Underground, Caves Hold Stories of Climate Change

As you read this, water is dripping onto the floors of caves, seeping through tiny rock fissures and beds of pebbles and sand into the absolute dark of the underground. It’s a commonplace, yet each drop carries clues to the local climate in which it formed. Over millennia, the drops have picked up carbon dioxide and minerals to create stalagmites that, like tree rings, tell how climate has changed. Read More


Mass Spectrometry Lab Interactive Tour

The department’s newly renovated mass spectrometry facility, along with Professor's Ethan Baxter and Corinne Wong, are featured in an interactive 360° video published by Boston College Magazine.

Jeremy Shakun
Research for Change

BC paleoclimatologist and Assistant Professor Jeremy Shakun was among faculty presenters at Advancing Research and Scholarship Day that focused on the environment and society.

Jeremy Shakun
Greenland's Glacial Pace: From ancient sands, scientists assemble the first extensive climatological account of the Greenland ice sheet

Assistant Professor Jeremy Shakun is co-author of a new report in the December 8 edition of the journal Nature. The report offers a first detailed climatological history, dating back 7.5 million years, of the Greenland ice sheet.

Ethan Baxter
The Clean Lab

Associate Professor and Chair of Earth and Environmental Sciences Ethan Baxter says the department's new Center for Isotope Geochemistry gives researchers the ability to study earth materials dating as far back as four billion years.

Chris hepburn
Professor Emeritus Chris Hepburn Receives the GSA Distinguished Service Award

Professor Emeritus Chris Hepburn received the Distinguished Service Award from the Geological Society of America this year at its Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado in September. This award is a significant honor in recognition of the work Chris has given to the Society over the years including Chairing of its Annual Meeting and serving on the GSA Council, Executive Committee, and as a Trustee of Geological Society of America Foundation.


Grace Lisius
2016 McCarthy Prize in Natural Sciences

Graduating senior Grace Lisius (Biology major, Geological Sciences minor) won the 2016 McCarthy Prize in Natural Sciences for her Scholar of the College thesis titled "Vegetation Community Response to Hydrologic and Geomorphic Changes Following Dam Removal in a New England River." During the summers of 2014 and 2015 Grace conducted fieldwork for her project on the Souhegan River in southern New Hampshire with Prof. Noah Snyder, collaborator Mathias Collins, and other Earth and Environmental Sciences students. She starts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in the fall.

BC Researchers Present at the USA Science & Engineering Festival

Earth and Environmental Sciences faculty and students, along with BC colleagues from Chemistry, Physics, the Lynch School of Education, presented our research at this year's USA Science and Engineering Festival. "Science on display: BC researchers present at the USA Science & Engineering Festival, an innovation showcase that draws a million visitors, many of them K-12 students, to Washington, D.C."

2016 Master's Completions
  • Yahya Abushaheen - "Quantitative Analysis of High Resolution Chirp Sub-Bottom Profiler Data in the Arabian Gulf Shallow Marine Sediments"
  • Fernando Alvarado Blohm - "Determination of Hydraulic Conductivities Through Grain-Size Analysis"
  • Shaina Cohen - "An Assessment of Heterogeneity within the Lithospheric Mantle, Marie Byrd Land, West Antarctica"
  • Caleb Lucy - "Rapid Acquisition of Low Cost High-Resolution Elevation Datasets Using a Small Unmanned Aircraft System: An Application for Measuring River Geomorphic Change"
  • Vanessa Napoli - "Relative Locations of Earthquakes Along the Northeast U.S. Atlantic Passive Margin and Source Parameter Comparison to the 1929 Grand Banks Earthquake"
  • Barbara Wortham - "Last Millennium Decoupling of the South American Summer Monsoon and Local Hydroclimate of Central Brazil"
We're on Instagram! @BC_EarthandEnviro

We are very excited to announce the launch of the official Instagram account for the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences. Our Instagram handle will be @BCEarthScience; look us up and follow! We want you to contribute by submitting photos (and captions) and you can choose how you'd like to be credited (full name, initials, Instagram handle, anonymously, etc.). Please send all submissions to Examples of photos you may want to submit include (but are not limited to): Research, Field trips, Conferences, Classes, Promotions for upcoming events, Profiles of students and/or faculty.

Jeremy Shakun
The Great Thaw

As the COP21 climate change conference takes place in Paris, Earth and Environmental Sciences Assistant Professor Jeremy Shakun discussed how man-made pollution has increased the speed at which the world's glaciers are melting. Washington Post

Mike Tappa
Welcome Mike Tappa!

The Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences is pleased to welcome Michael Tappa as our new Manager of Major Analytical Research Laboratories. Mike brings 10 years of experience in isotope and analytical geochemistry including TIMS, ICMP-MS, and SHRIMP analysis of radiogenic and stable isotopes, as well as related clean lab and other sample preparation. Most recently, since 2011, Michael served as Research Scientist and Lab Manager for the Center for Isotope Cosmochemistry and Geochronology at the NASA Johnson Space Center. He also gained experience as a graduate student at UNC Chappell Hill, and as a research associate at Virginia Tech. At Boston College, Michael will manage our new TIMS, IRMS, and Clean Lab Facilities as well as the recently upgraded SEM Facility. Renovation of the new labs will be completed in Spring 2016. Welcome Mike!

Ethan Baxter
New Faculty

The Earth and Environmental Sciences Department Welcomes Professor
Ethan Baxter!

South Asia's Earthquake

Geophysicst John Ebel, chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, spoke with Reuters about the earthquake that struck Afghanistan and Pakistan earlier this week. Pickups ranged from the New York Times, Newsweek and Al Jazeera America to the Irish Times Sydney Morning Herald.

Best Student Paper

Congratulations to graduate student Hannah Chambless who won a "Best Student Paper" award at the Eastern Section Meeting of the Seismological Society of America! An abstract of her paper, "Injection-Induced Seismicity, Hydraulic Fracturing Operations, and Wastewater Injections Wells in Oklahoma and California, can be found here.

Students with equipment
Examining the circulation dynamics and sediment transport of the Connecticut River estuary.

Over the last week in September, eleven undergraduates and three graduate students joined Professor Gail Kineke for a research cruise on the Connecticut River as part of her NSF-funded project examining the circulation dynamics and sediment transport of the Connecticut River estuary. The project is a joint effort with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and included a week-long survey of suspended-sediment, bed sediment and hydrologic conditions using advanced acoustic, optical and water sampling techniques. The students are a part of the Environmental Geoscience Senior Research Seminar and will continue to conduct analysis on the data and samples collected through work in the Coastal Processes Lab. Photo by Kevin Simans.

Jeremy Shakun
The Mystery of the Ice Age Glacial Melt and Its Links to Modern Climate Change

A reexamination of more than 1,000 previously studied glacial boulders pinpoints the rise in carbon dioxide as the primary factor in the simultaneous global retreat of glaciers at the close of the last Ice Age. Published in the journal Nature Communications by Assistant Professor Jeremy Shakun and a team of climate scientists, these findings have implications for the current rising levels of man-made greenhouse gases and retreating glaciers.

Noah Snyder
Conference Will Explore Impact of Laudato Si'

Assistant Professor Noah Snyder is one of organizers of “Our Common Home,” a four day conference which will explore the spiritual and policy implications of Laudato Si’, the Pope’s sweeping encyclical on climate change. The conference will feature numerous distinguished speakers and is co-sponsored by the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences along with more than a dozen campus offices.

John Ebel
Geological Society of America Fellow

Department Chair John Ebel has been elected a fellow of the Geological Society of America for his seismological research, teaching, and work to increase public awareness and understanding of earthquakes.