Department News 2019-2020

Louise H. Kellogg portraitLouise H. Kellogg | In memoriam: 1959-2019

Our colleague and dear friend, Distinguished Professor Louise Kellogg, passed away on April 15, 2019.  Louise built innumerable ties among people, using her outstanding science, trans-disciplinary vision, and dedication to equity. Her family, friends and colleagues around the world are grieving her loss. Messages of sympathy and memories of Louise may be sent to If you wish to have your message included on this web page, please let us know.

Louise Kellogg Memorial Fund. Make a gift in support of first generation students studying Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Davis. This support represents one of the many passions of Distinguished Professor Louise H. Kellogg.

Bill CaseyBill CaseyAmerican Chemical Society Fellow

Bill Casey has been named a 2019 American Chemical Society fellow. The new fellows will be feted at the society’s fall national meeting in San Diego in August. The fellows program began in 2008 as a way to recognize and honor ACS members for outstanding achievements in and contributions to science, the profession, and ACS.

Alex NavrotskyAlexandra NavrotskyNew Mineral Named for Alexandra Navrotsky

Navrotskyite, a uranium-bearing mineral found underground in Utah’s Blue Lizard mine, was named for Distinguished Professor Alexandra Navrotsky. Navrotskyite resembles fiber-optic bundles, with tight clusters of needle-shaped crystals. A physical chemist, geochemist and materials scientist, Navrotsky is director of the Nanomaterials in the Environment, Agriculture and Technology (NEAT) organized research unit and the Peter A. Rock Thermochemistry Laboratory at UC Davis.

Sarah StewartSarah Stewart | She Rewrote the Moon’s Origin Story

From Nautilus: The Apollo missions were a giant leap for science. Nautilus spoke to Sarah Stewart last year about the scientific significance of the Apollo lunar landings, as well as how her laboratory experiments, which replicate the pressures and temperatures of planetary collisions, informed her model of the moon’s birth. Stewart’s bold vision grows out a love for science planted in high school in O’Fallon, Illinois. “I had phenomenal math and physics teachers,” she said. “So when I went to college, I wanted to be a physics major.” At Harvard, where she studied astronomy and physics, “I met amazing scientists, and that sparked a whole career.”

David GoldDavid GoldScientists Debate the Origin of Cell Types in the First Animals

From Quanta magazine: Theories about how animals became multicellular are shifting as researchers find greater complexity in our single-celled ancestors. 
David Gold, who was not involved in the study, comments on the findings.

Nicholas PinterNicholas PinterA flood forced this town to move. It could be a model for others hit by the climate crisis

From CNN: "It's estimated that something like a third of US communities will face increased risk of flooding by the middle of the century," Pinter explained.

From UC Davis: Climate change and sea-level rise are bringing more water to people’s doorsteps, threatening communities from Midwestern America to Jakarta, Indonesia. Entire towns are moving to escape rising waters. But how do towns address these growing threats and still retain their sense of community? To find out, flood expert Nicholas Pinter and his team are visiting dozens of communities across the Midwest  that have moved entirely off the floodplain in a concept called "managed retreat." Read the full, multimedia story of two of those towns — one in Illinois, the other in Wisconsin — at UC Davis Science & Climate,

Sarah StewartSarah Stewart | Wandering Space Rocks Help Solve Mysteries of Planet Formation

From Quanta magazine:  After an interstellar asteroid shot past the sun, scientists realized that there’s probably a lot of itinerant rocks out there. Those stones are changing what we know about the birth of solar systems. Stewart studies a strange new planetary phase called a synestia, which she and Simon Lock, a planetary scientist now at the California Institute of Technology, proposed in 2017 to describe the formation of the moon. A synestia is a bloated, swollen cloud of vaporized rock shaped like a puffy bagel. In a synestia, the material that made the Earth and moon would have thoroughly mixed.

Qing-zhu YinQing-zhu YinModeling Early Meteorite Impacts on the Moon

From the egghead: As our solar system was forming nearly four and a half billion years ago, a planet-sized object struck the early Earth, leading to the formation of the moon, possibly from a hot, spinning cloud of rock vapor called a synestia. But after the Earth and moon had condensed from the vapor, there was another phase of growth as meteorites crashed into both bodies.

Sarah StewartSarah Stewart | Science of the Moon

UC Davis Live on Facebook. UC Davis professor Sarah Stewart, an expert on planet formation, discussed the significance of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on UC Davis Live. Watch the video.


Mike OskinMike Oskin | Prepare for an Earthquake

From KCRA 3: 4 Ways to Prepare for an EarthquakeThere are more than 15,000 known faults in California, according to the California Earthquake Authority. Most Californians live within 30 miles of an active one. “It doesn’t have to be scary," UC Davis professor of geology Mike Oskin said. "We are prepared in this state and every individual can do something to be prepared for themselves

From Fox 40: SoCal Earthquakes Renewed Interest in Early Warning App. Is It Coming to Sacramento? Moments before you even feel an earthquake, ShakeAlert is designed to give you a warning. There is no timeline for when the app will reach Sacramento. In the meantime, University of California, Davis professor of geology Michael Oskin recommends taking steps to prepare yourself. “One of the most predictable things about earthquakes is they have aftershocks, so they trigger more earthquakes around them,” Oskin said.

From the Los Angeles Times: Afraid of the Big One? Consider Sacramento, which avoids the worst California quakes

Qing-zhu YinQing-zhu YinEarth Has WAY More Gold Than the Moon and Here's Why

From That may seem odd, given the two worlds' shared (and violent) history. About 4.5 billion years ago, a Mars-size planet dubbed Theia slammed into the proto-Earth, blasting huge amounts of material from both bodies into space. Some of this liberated stuff was incorporated into the bruised and battered Earth, and some coalesced to form the moon. Yin is a member of a research team — led by Meng-Hua Zhu, of the Macau University of Science and Technology in China — that used computer simulations to model millions of impacts on the moon.

John RundleJohn RundleLocal Professor Weighs In on Recent Seismic Activity in Southern California

From Fox 40: “Typically, major earthquakes like that have foreshocks and the small earthquake on July Fourth would have been classified as a foreshock of the 7.1 earthquake,” said John Rundle who is a distinguished professor of physics and earth science at UC Davis. Rundle has studied earthquakes for years and says they're fairly difficult to predict.