Outstanding Earth Scientists (10 Phenomenal Careers)

Earth science studies structure, composition, and history of the planet. Since most human activities are in direct interaction with Earth, this area of study is extremely important. Without it, we would not have strong understandings of climate change, sustainability needs, and both the basic and complex functions of the planet. Take a look at the list of eight outstanding earth scientists located across the globe.

Awarded Sustainability Scientist: Anne R. Kapuscinski, Ph.D.

Anne R. Kapuscinski is a leader in sustainability science.
Anne R. Kapuscinski, Ph.D.

Not only is Anne Kapuscinski the first woman to chair the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Board of Directors, but she is also one of the loudest voices today on climate change. Her research on food-energy and food-water-energy systems integrations maintains discourse on sustainable practices across social, ecological and economic interests and practices. Moreover, she is a leading researcher in the world’s fastest-growing sector for food, aquaculture.

Kapuscinski has a diverse academic background. She received her B.A. in Biology from Swarthmore College. Later, she earned both her M.S. and Ph.D. in Fisheries from Oregon State University. Within the earth sciences community, she is particularly dedicated to sustainability science.

In addition to serving with UCS, she works with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in a working group seeking to enhance global fisheries and other aquatic resources. Furthermore, she served as an advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the FDA, the World Health Organization and the Global Environment Facility.

Lastly, Kapuscinski directs the Coastal Science and Policy Program of UC Santa Cruz. There, she teaches and trains future earth scientists and conservationists. Of note, her work has been awarded. She holds the 1997 Honor Award for environmental protection from the Secretary of Agriculture, a 2001 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, a 2008 SCB Distinguished Service Award, and the 2014 Natural Products Association’s Rachel Carson Environmental Award.

Outstanding Earth Scientist: Read about Anne R. Kapuscinski.

Published Field Expeditionist: Benjamin Edwards, Ph.D.

Benjamin Edwards is an outstanding earth scientist.
Benjamin Edwards, Ph.D.

At Dickinson College in Carlisle in Pennsylvania, Benjamin Edwards is a professor of earth sciences. He started his education at Carleton College and continued to the University of Wyoming. Ultimately, he earned his Ph.D. in 1997 at the University of British Columbia.

Edwards’ research areas include Alpine and Arctic climate change and glaciovolcanism, the interactions between glaciers and volcanoes. He is also interested in the influence that volcanic ash has on plants, as well as the processes of soil-forming and the impact of plate tectonics on virtually everything.

An avid field expeditionist, he has traveled much of the world. He has even taken students to study in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, Peru, and Chile. Much of their research centered on climate change, glaciers, and volcanic stratigraphy.

As with most researchers, Edwards is well-published. In 2016, he and J.L. Smellie co-authored Glaciovolcanism on Earth and Mars: Products, Processes and Paleoclimate Implications. He also published dozens of articles and book chapters.

Of note, the professor has his own blog where he posts updates on results from his research projects, as well as reports from field trips. Edwards appeared in written and other media on numerous occasions, with the latest appearance being a 2017 interview for “The Lava Catcher” with Discover Online Magazine.

Outstanding Earth Scientist: Read about Benjamin Edwards.

Outstanding Earth Scientist: David Phillips, Ph.D.

David Phillips is the head of the school of Environmental Science at the University of Melbourne.
David Phillips, Ph.D.

At the University of Melbourne in Australia, David Phillips is a professor of earth sciences and the head of the School of Environmental Science. He earned both his B.S. and M.S. at Rhodes University. Later, he completed his Ph.D. at Princeton University.

He utilizes 40Ar/39Ar geochronology as a way of estimating geological samples’ thermal histories and age. His recent research is dedicated to the formation and timing of ore deposits with a particular focus on diamond and gold. Of note, Phillips is a diamond specialist. He studies volcanic rocks aged under a million years, as well.

Philips’ geographic focus is South Africa and Australia. He regularly publishes articles in various journals. You can find recent works in Lithos and Earth and Planetary Science Letters. He also wrote multiple book chapters over the past several years.

Additionally, Phillips earned the Dean’s Teaching Award from the University of Melbourne in 2009. He is also a member of the Geochemical Society and the Australian Geological Society.

Outstanding Earth Scientist: Read about David Phillips.

Expert Seismologist: Kuvvet Atakan, Ph.D.

Kuvvet Atakan is a Norwegian earth scientist.
Kuvvet Atakan, Ph.D.

At the University of Bergen in Norway, Kuvvet Atakan is a professor of earth sciences. He began his education in geological engineering, earning a B.S. at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. When he moved to Norway, he acquired his scientific doctorate in seismology at the University of Bergen.

Atakan’s first employment in the field was in his home country, Turkey, at the Mineral Exploration and Research Institute. He was later employed at the University of Durham in the United Kingdom for two years before getting a post at the University of Bergen. Of note, his current tenure has incorporated numerous functions, including the Advisory Council Chairman of the Earth Science Department from 2003 to 2005 and Vice Rector of Education from 2009 to 2013.

Professor Atakan has authored more than 600 scientific papers, including more than 400 presentations. Furthermore, Atakan currently represents Norway in the International Seismological Centre. He is also a Norwegian Academy of Technical Sciences member and a member of more than 10 other scientific groups and committees. He also runs the European Plate Observing System – Norway Projects in addition to five other projects. His current research is in processes that lead to earthquakes in subduction zones.

Outstanding Earth Scientist: Read about Kuvvet Atakan.

Experienced Seismologist: David D. Oglesby, Ph.D.

David D. Oglesby teaches earth sciences at UC Riverside.
David D. Oglesby, Ph.D.

David Oglesby is a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of California, Riverside. He actually attending UCR for his undergraduate work. However, he transferred to UC Santa Barbara to complete his Ph.D.

Earthquake processes are Oglesby’s specialty. His research interests range from earthquake physics, with particular emphasis on the effects of stress inhomogeneity and fault geometry, to wave computational models of wave propagation, faulting, and ground motion of earthquakes. Additionally, he publishes his findings quite regularly. You can find some of his work in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

His recent projects include dynamic models of the Chi-Chi Earthquake in Taiwan in 1999 and a focus on Rose Canyon Fault in San Diego. Both include earthquake dynamics and forecasting ground motion for future quakes.

Today, Oglesby is a respected professor at his university, as well as in his subject area. He utilizes decades of experience to impart his knowledge to students and future colleagues. Moreover, he is frequently involved in new projects related to earth science.

Outstanding Earth Scientist: Read about David D. Oglesby.

Published Seismologist: Andy Calvert, Ph.D.

Andy Calvert is a published earth scientist who studies tectonic structures.
Andy Calvert, Ph.D.

Currently, Andy Calvert is a professor at the Department of Earth Sciences at the Simon Fraser University of California. He is also the graduate program chair. The courses he currently teaches include introductory applied geophysics, global geophysics, and exploration seismology. Of note, Calvert also belongs to the tectonics and petrology research group of his university.

He obtained his B.A. and Ph.D. in the United Kingdom. The latter degree was received from Cambridge University. Studies during and after his education focused on the crustal and tectonic structure of diverse areas like Ontario’s archean craton.

Calvert is also well-published. He authored numerous papers related to his field of expertise. His research focuses on enhancing the quality of below-the-surface photos that can be found from seismic reflection data. He is also dedicated to improving the interpretation accuracy of this data. At the moment, his projects are suitable for Ph.D.- and M.Sc.-level work, and involve detecting massive sulfide ore bodies in mining camps.

Outstanding Earth Scientist: Read about Andy Calvert.

Outstanding Earth Scientist: Michael James Bickle, Ph.D.

Michael James Bickle is an outstanding earth scientist.
Michael James Bickle, Ph.D.

At the University of Cambridge, Michael James Bickle is a professor of tectonics in the Department of Earth Sciences. He is also the director of the Carbon Capture and Storage Centre of Cambridge. Of note, he obtained an undergraduate degree at this university. However, he acquired his Ph.D. from Oxford University and continued his post-doctoral work in Leeds and Zimbabwe.

Bickle is also a fellow of the Royal Society and the American Geophysical Union. The NERC ESIOS Science Advisory Group also invited him to be a member. He is also a part of the Review Committee on Disposal of Radioactive Waste and the working group of the Royal Society working on marine resources. Previously, he was part of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.

He is well-published in the field, too. You can find much of his work in Geology and the Journal of Geophysical Research. His research is a mixture of geochemical and petrological field-based research with physical modeling. The goal of the research is to improve the understanding of the processes that control evolution on a global level. Other interests he researches include mountain belts and their thermal revolution and processes that control Earth melting.

Outstanding Earth Scientist: Read about Michael James Bickle.

Published Geologist: Yaoling Niu, Ph.D.

Yaoling Niu is a geophysicist.
Yaoling Niu, Ph.D.

Born in China and a citizen of Great Britain and Australia, Yaoling Niu is a geophysicist and geologist. He started his academic career at the Lanzhou University of Geology in China where he acquired BSc. Niu moved to the US to obtain his M.S. and, later, his Ph.D. in Geophysics and Geology from the University of Hawaii. Since 2004, he has been on the staff of Durham University working as a professor and a coordinator of their natural science program.

His first professional appointment was as an assistant lecturer then as a researcher at Lanzhou. This university awarded him the title of an honorary professor in 2010. From 1993 to 2000, he was a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland in Australia. He taught economic geology, geochemistry, and petrology. He finally moved to the United Kingdom in 2001 and became a senior research fellow at the Natural Environment Research Council.

Niu participated as an invited institutional and conference speaker on numerous occasions. He has made more than 200 scientific contributions and is well-published. Of note, he has also served as an editor for numerous publications in his field of study.

Outstanding Earth Scientist: Read about Yaoling Niu.

Notorious Geologist: Rob Strachan, Ph.D.

Rob Strachan is a professor and researcher of geology.
Rob Strachan, Ph.D.

Currently, Rob Strachan is a professor of geology at the University of Portsmouth’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. He has held this position since 2013, and he was also Head of School from 2007 to 2017.

Strachan graduated from the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth in 1978 with a B.S. in Geology. He acquired his Ph.D. from the University of Keele in Staffordshire in 1982. Soon after completing his studies, he was employed by the Oxford Brookes University’ Department of Geology. He worked there until 2003 as both a lecturer and a reader. Then he moved to his current post. Some of his current curricula include structural geology, how Earth works, and geodynamics.

His interests in research vary from the nature of orogenic processes within lower to middle continental crust to granite emplacement mechanics in various structures. Some of the other focuses of Strachan’s research include reactivation history and evolution of continental fault zones. He also uses geochronological techniques to date metamorphic and deformational orogeny events. Much of his research is published in notable journals. You can find his more recent 2018 publication in Geoscience Frontiers and his 2017 works in the Journal of the Geological Society.

Outstanding Earth Scientist: Read about Rob Strachan.

Outstanding Earth Scientist: Ricardo Salvador, Ph.D.

Ricardo Salvador is a director with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Ricardo Salvador, Ph.D.

With the Union of Concerned Scientists, Ricardo Salvador serves as the Director of the Food and Environment Program. He is also a senior scientist at the organization. His position entails direct influence and collaboration with other scientists, politicians, economists and citizens. Ultimately, he aims to move the current food system toward an entity that provides healthy foods through the use of environmentally and socially sustainable practices.

Of note, Salvador holds a B.S. from New Mexico State University in agricultural science. He also has both an M.S. and Ph.D. from Iowa State University. His latter degrees are in crop production and physiology.

Prior to his work with UCS, Salvador was employed by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The programs he designed targeted the intersection of food and human health as well as economic and social equity. He was also an associate professor at Iowa State University, teaching agronomy. Of note, Salvador’s course in sustainable agriculture was the first of its kind at a land-grant institution.

Lastly, Salvador’s work has taken him beyond the Ivory Tower into mainstream media. He appeared on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show (MSNBC) to discuss his research. Also, he has been quoted in publications like The New York Times,  The Boston Globe, and Politico among others. Moreover, Salvador is a 2013 NBC Latino Innovator and recipient of the 2014 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award.

Outstanding Earth Scientist: Read about Ricardo Salvador.


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