Louise H. Kellogg | 1959-2019

Louise H. Kellogg
Distinguished Professor Louise Kellogg

Our colleague and dear friend, Distinguished Professor Louise Kellogg, passed away on April 15, 2019.  Louise built bridges among communities with her scientific vision and dedication to equity. She consistently promoted early career and underrepresented scientists, providing mentoring, friendship and wise counsel. Her family, friends, and colleagues around the world are grieving her loss.

Louise contributed significantly to our understanding of Earth’s interior, both through her research and as a leader in numerous multidisciplinary collaborations. She brought her vision for a better future to each of these projects, promoting novel approaches as well as the inclusion of diverse participants. Her love of life shined in her work as well as personal activities. She leaves us with a rich legacy of treasured ideas and memories.


Louise Kellogg Memorial Fund

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


Modeling Earth’s Interior

Louise focused her research on collaborative studies of the dynamics of the solid Earth, seeking to understand mantle convection and crustal deformation through computational models rooted in observation. She was fond of emphasizing the importance of processes ranging in scale from atoms to solar systems that act on the time scales of isotope decay to the evolution of planets, and her diverse research covered these scales in time and length. She never shied from the numerical challenges they presented.

The "marble cake” model for the compositional evolution and structure of Earth’s interior.
Diagram illustrating the possible dynamics of an intrinsically dense layer in the lower mantle aka "The Dr. Seuss figure".

Louise is best known for her planet-scale seminal paper, “Compositional Stratification in the Deep Mantle,” in which she demonstrated that inconsistencies in the composition of and heat flow associated with mantle-derived basalts can be understood using computational models that include a compositionally distinct layer in the deep mantle. This stealth layer is consistent with the mixing and stretching of filaments of rock of different compositions, as observed in outcrops of mantle rocks, suggesting a “marble cake” model for the compositional evolution and structure of Earth’s interior.

Recently, Louise explored how carbon cycled through the atmosphere, mantle and crust soon after Earth formed, using the current distribution of carbon in Earth’s crust and the dynamic feedbacks between atmospheric CO2 and weathering as model constraints. This research included integrating data and theoretical calculations of how carbon behaves in the Earth through her leadership position in the Deep Carbon Observatory project.

At smaller, shorter scales, Louise was interested in the dynamic deformation of Earth’s crust, participating in collaborations to simulate earthquakes as well as to characterize crustal responses to earthquakes. She was key to trans-disciplinary research focused on the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a breakthrough collaboration leading to new concepts of rapid response to human disasters using remote sensing data and sophisticated computational tools.

Louise constantly pushed the boundaries of computing from the earliest vector computers to today’s massively parallel, multicore machines. Her research led to a deep appreciation of the need for detailed models of complex processes in four dimensions. Such models require diverse expertise to develop, and Louise played a key role in facilitating community software development. She was instrumental in the formation  and then later became Director of the Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics (CIG). Similarly, she provided insightful guidance to many organizations including the COnsortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences (COMPRES) and the Cooperative Institute for Dynamic Earth Research (CIDER).  Each of these collaborative and national-scale efforts promotes research addressing challenging deep Earth problems as well as the education of early career Earth scientists, two of Louise’s deepest and longest running passions. Her contributions to these efforts exemplify Louise’s insights into how to make significant advances in geosciences, computational capabilities, and interdisciplinary teams.

Louise in the KeckCAVES
Louise in the KeckCAVES.

Vision and Visualization

Louise had a deep appreciation for the importance of “seeing” science.  She loved and understood the beauty of well designed graphs and diagrams that effectively communicate science, forseeing the potential of three-dimensional visualizations for scientific insights.  She used this vision to initiate and sustain a unique collaboration - the Keck Center for Active Visualization in Earth Sciences (KeckCAVES). As the director of KeckCAVES, Louise guided interdisciplinary collaborations and software development that enable scientists to interact with their data in an immersive, virtual reality environment. The resulting collaborations have led to insights into everything from how to rapidly respond to earthquakes to the morphology of ancient microbial communities to past changes in ocean circulation to the dynamics of Earth’s deep interior. The scientific insights have also led to pedagogical insights.

Children playing in the AR Sandbox.
Children experiencing the AR Sandbox on Picnic Day.

A collaboration on lake visualization led to the development of an augmented reality (AR) sandbox that provides insights into topography, landscapes and water flow. AR sandboxes have been built by hundreds of schools, museums, and other groups across the globe, extending Louise’s influence into the lives of innumerable children of all ages.

An Extraordinary Mentor

Louise was a steadfast leader of efforts, large and small, to increase equity, inclusion and diversity in academia. Some of these efforts are transforming organizations. For example, she was a founding member of the UC Davis Strength Through Equity & Diversity (STEAD) Committee, which provides research-based information and advice about best practices for achieving excellence, equity, and diversity in faculty recruitment. In developing the STEAD best practices, Louise provided invaluable wisdom; a calm, warm and optimistic orientation to difficult discussions; and an openness and curiosity about people's lives and experiences. As chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences for more than 10 years, Louise helped build a culture that values diversity in research and individuals. Her leadership was recognized by a Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity and Community in 2005, but she insisted that the award was really for the department as a whole since it took the efforts of many people to build the diversity of our community. She used her award money to initiate Tuesday Tea in our department, which builds community by encouraging conversation while sipping her favorite beverage.

Louise consistently championed women in STEM, providing mentorship to innumerable scientists both directly and as a role model of an outstanding scientist who treated others with respect. She made people feel valued and intelligent, irrespective of their level of experience or knowledge, and she made special efforts to support early career scientists by promoting recognition of their research. She graced many of us with advice and wisdom at critical times in our careers, helping us both succeed and promote the well being of others.

Louise was particularly active in working to improve life for students. She advocated for UC Davis to provide consistent messaging and services to students affected by the extensive California wildfires in the past two years, with an emphasis on mental health services. During the government shutdown earlier this year, she advocated for Graduate Studies to develop an emergency financial support system for students who unexpectedly lost their funding. As a mentor, Louise encouraged her students to keep an open, curious mind by supporting them in their pursuit of broad interests, believing that exploring a diversity of experiences leads to both better mental health and a deeper understanding of one’s own science. She also enjoyed discussing the process of answering student questions, exploring how a question that appeared simple on the surface may be connected to much deeper ideas. The process of answering questions was just as important to Louise as answering the questions themselves. Her legacy of inclusion lives on in each of us that she touched with her mentoring.

Louise and her grad student.
Louise driving one of her graduate students to commencement.

Racing Through Life

Louise loved motorcycles, sports cars, dancing and running. She and her husband, Doug Neuhauser, took motorcycle trips for years and kept a MG Midget running for decades past its natural lifetime. They enjoyed the classic car road races at Laguna Seca every year. A BMW roadster eventually became Louise’s commuting car.

Louise’s enthusiasm for modern dance manifested in her taking classes for years, serving on the board for the Pamela Trokanski Dance Theater in Davis, and regularly attending performances, particularly at the Mondavi Center. Louise’s interest in dance led to a special production - Collapse (suddenly falling down) with choreographer Della Davidson - that integrated data and software from the KeckCAVES collaboration into the performances. Lidar scans of landslides and disappearing beaches were projected onto the stage in three-dimensions, where they were manipulated by the dancers. The show won the Isadora Duncan Dance Award for visual design, in large part due to Louise’s contributions to both the infrastructure that allowed the visualizations and the details of their projection. It was a collaboration that Louise particularly cherished for the friendships that emerged from the hours of working closely together.

Louise running.
Louise looking back to check on her running partner before nearing the finish line. Pretty classic Louise.

Later in life, Louise discovered running. Intrigued by some colleagues’ experiences with running road races (5k’s to marathons), she started running for exercise, using races as motivation to push herself. She joined department colleagues in road races starting in 2012 with a 5k, and over several years became a long distance runner, completing 10k and half marathon courses on the West and East coasts. In characteristic fashion, Louise was competitive about running - but in competition with herself, always pushing to improve her time and to go longer distances. Running was also a mechanism for supporting other women in the department, encouraging colleagues to sign up for and train for something that would challenge them.


Louise embraced life fully, whether it was inviting everyone over for Thanksgiving dinner (long live the Turducken), listening to live music, pulling Peeps pranks, figuring out a solution to a difficult problem, cutting out stacks of dinosaur hats in meetings, or sorting out how to convince the architects to include plumbed distilled water in our new building. She tackled problems, large and small, with determination, persistence, insight, and often humor. Louise is leaving a legacy within each of us that she touched in life.

Messages of sympathy and memories of Louise may be sent to memories-of-louise@ucdavis.edu.
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