Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences

Henry L. Bolley Academic Achievement Award for 2014


On May, 1, 2014, Professor Darrell Strobel’s alma mater, North Dakota State University, awarded him the Henry L. Bolley Academic Achievement Award for 2014. The Award honors an individual who has attained noted achievements in education as teachers, researchers, and/or administrators.

Effective July 1, 2014, Professor Strobel will be on half-time teaching for the next four years in order to conduct research. He will only offer classes during the spring term. Strobel hopes to acquire another three years of data with the Cassinni spacecraft before burning up the spacecraft in Saturn’s atmosphere in September 2017. The New Horizons spacecraft flies by Pluto on Bastille Day (July 14) next summer, and next spring, the activity level will quickly increase.

Strobel’s planned date of retirement is June 30, 2018, once the Cassini and New Horizon missions are over.

Eric Ryberg given the Lawrence Alexander Hardie Undergraduate Research Award in Earth and Planetary Sciences

Eric Ryberg ’15 has been honored with the Lawrence Alexander Hardie Undergraduate Research Award in Earth and Planetary Sciences. Working with Assistant Professor Naomi Levin, Ryberg, a chemistry major, studies the use of 170 Isotope in Ethiopian rainwater to develop a new paleoclimate proxy. His project description is as follows:

170 is an isotope of oxygen, indicating it has a different mass than normal oxygen. Mass differences cause isotope fractionation in water during phase changes (evaporation, condensation, etc.). The more common 180-isotope and hydrogen isotope in water have been thoroughly studied. However, 170 has not been deeply explored. Using rainwater from four collection stations in Ethiopia, the 170-composition of rainwater will be analyzed to determine 170-variation as a function of rain amount and moisture source and then compared to 180 and hydrogen isotopes in the same samples. Observations will be used to develop 170-records as tools for reconstructing past climate.
Congratulations, Eric!

Research Professor Richard Stolarski Honored by GRL

E&PS Research Professor Richard Stolarski has been honored by the prestigious journal Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) of the American Geophysical Union. His 1991 paper, “Total Ozone trends deduced from Nimbus 7 Toms data,” is part of the Anniversary Special Collection, which comprises the 40 top GRL papers published since the journal began 40 years ago. Since inception, more than 31,000 papers have been published by GRL.

GECS Student Justin Falcone Awarded Truman Scholarship


Senior Justin Falcone, who has dedicated his personal and academic pursuits to studying and addressing the global implications of climate change, was recently named one of 59 recipients of the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship. The awards are given annually to U.S. college undergraduates with demonstrated leadership potential and a commitment to public service.

The winners, who represent 52 colleges and universities, were chosen from a group of 655 nominees. Recipients are awarded up to $30,000 for graduate study.

Falcone, who is studying environmental archaeology and minoring in global environmental change and sustainability, is the first winner from Johns Hopkins since 2010. He plans to pursue graduate studies in environmental science, management, and policy.

“The Truman Scholarship is more than a bridge that connects scholars to the places, both literal and academic, that they want to go,” says Falcone. “Although it serves that purpose, it is also a diverse community of leaders and change agents united by a passion for making a difference. I’m humbled to be a part of that community.”

Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels called Falcone to let him know he had been selected for the award.

Falcone, a native of Cinnaminson, N.J., spent the summer of 2012 in the shadow of Sicily’s Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, where, he wrote, he “began to realize how environmental forces impact the cultural fabric of island communities in unique ways.”

Using funding from Johns Hopkins’ Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, Falcone sailed from Tahiti to Hawaii during the spring of 2013 and documented the impact climate change is having on the island communities most vulnerable to rising sea levels. He visited the Society, Marquesas, and Tuamotu islands, as well as the Phoenix islands, which are among the 32 atolls that make up the island nation of Kiribati. In Hawaii, Falcone worked on an organic farm in an area of the rain forest that has recovered from volcanic activity.

Photographs from his travels documenting the effects of climate change are scheduled to be displayed at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library on the university’s Homewood campus during the 2014-15 academic year.

“I have always been a person of multiple interests that pivot around human-environment interactions,” Falcone says. “While I intended to study how past Pacific communities have experienced climate change so that data could be applied to future models, I realized I could insert myself into the present equation.”

Falcone took a particular interest in Kiribati during his excursion and, once home, launched Project Kiribati, the first international initiative designed to support a sustainable clean water infrastructure for the low-lying South Pacific island nation. The group has partnered with Johns Hopkins Hospital—via its Supporting Hospitals Abroad with Resources and Equipment (SHARE) group—and others to supply medical equipment, vitamins, and water purification tablets to individuals living in Kiribati.

The effort is an offshoot of the Alliance for Clean Water (ACWa), a Johns Hopkins student group founded by Falcone that is dedicated to the protection of clean water in natural and urban environments. The group, which is associated with the university’s Center for Social Concern, conducts service trips, including “canoe and clean” outings to remove plastic waste from local estuaries, research trips to test the water quality of aquifers, and education trips designed to instill an appreciation of the watersheds that supply Baltimore’s water.

Falcone is also the inventor of patent-pending environmental technologies developed with the help of the university’s Office of Technology Transfer. He is a Bloomberg Scholar, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and a former participant on the Apolline Project’s archaeological expedition at the north slope of Mount Vesuvius. Last summer he was a member of an NSF REU team at USC’s Wrigley Institute on Catalina Island, where he utilized geospatial technologies in the study of coastal climate change.

“I will devote my career to environmental policy because I wish to help those communities most endangered by climate change today,” Falcone wrote in his Truman scholarship application. “I believe in using every tool at my disposal—tech innovation, service, policy, art—to act as an agent of change who considers both where we came from and where we are going.”

Faculty Spotlight: Alexios Monoplois

E&PS Lecturer Alexios Monopolis was interviewed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Education Resources:

We say goodbye and wish well


To GECS major Jacob Rode, who worked in our lab for several years. Jacob was an excellent help both in the field and in the lab. His strong time-management skills allowed him to balance schoolwork, lab work, volleyball club, and RA responsibilities without conflict. We nominated him for the “Student Employee of the Year” award; he was awarded first runner-up, and he certainly deserved the recognition. In September, Jacob started graduate school at UC Irvine, where he will pursue a PhD in psychology. Best of luck and surf!

To assistant research scholar and statistics extraordinaire, Mike Bernard. Mike was instrumental in many of our field and laboratory projects, and a great mentor to our undergraduates. Mike kept the labs in order and the data organized. In August, Mike will start a new job as field technician at the Harvard Forest LTER site. By moving back to Massachusetts Mike and Jess will reunite with their families. We wish them all the best.


Congratulations to EPS major Adam Dec for receiving an NSF REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) Award. The REU is provided by the Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) site. Adam is summarizing long term data on urban soil invertebrate fauna and conducting his own independent field study on the spatial distribution on invasive earthworms. Adam plans to develop this project into a Senior Thesis.

Summer Field Work

Using Palmer Field funds, graduate students Haoyuan Ji and Shuning Li went on a road trip across the western U.S. last June collecting lacustrine carbonates and waters from evaporative lakes for triple oxygen isotope studies.


Shuning on Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake, UT.


Haoyuan walking through tufa deposits along the western shore of Pyramid Lake, NV.


Haoyuan collecting a water sample using a fishing wire at the bank of the Bear River, UT.